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Knights best Eagles in season finale

AS KENNETT’S MATT LAUTENSCHLAGER (32) and Brian Fox leap top put on the pressure, Kingswood’s Kohl Meyers launches a shot during action March 2 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 07, 2011
NORTH CONWAY — The final contest of the regular season for the Kingswood and Kennett boys' basketball teams was close through one quarter, but the Kingswood Knights pulled away late in the second quarter and grabbed a 65-39 win over their Carroll County rivals on March 2 in North Conway.

"The Kennett boys hustled real hard the whole game," said Kingswood coach Dan Chick. "Especially defensively.

"We played well enough to beat them, but I thought they did a good job as far as defense goes," he added.

"I told these guys, I've had more talented teams, deeper teams, but I've never had a team of guys that are gentlemen, good sports, hard workers and respectful more than these guys," Kennett coach Steve Coté said. "I am very proud of them. These are the types of kids you want to have."

As is usually the case when the two rivals hook up, things were close in the early going, as the 1-16 Eagles hung tough against the 8-9 Knights.

Kingswood got out to a 3-0 lead on a Tim Campbell free throw and a Kohl Meyers hoop, but a Mike Lautenschlager three-pointer tied the game for Kennett. Matt Lautenschlager then drilled a field goal to give Kennett a 5-3 lead, but Meyers answered with two from the free throw line to tie the game at five.

Brian Fox put Kennett up again, but a bucket from Zack McKenzie tied the game for the Knights. A Joe Irvine free throw gave Kingswood an 8-7 lead, but Mike Lautenschlager hit one from the line as well to tie the game at eight.

Irvine hit two from the line for the Knights, but Alex Milford got a steal and hoop for Kennett to tie the contest at 10. Meyers hit the final hoop of the quarter, giving Kingswood a 12-10 lead after eight minutes of play.

A Dustin Stewart free throw pulled Kennett to within one to open the second, but hoops from Meyers and David Velez and a free throw from Irvine pushed Kingswood out to a 17-11 lead. Meyers hit another hoop to make it 19-11 and Tom Melnik and Campbell both came up with big blocks on the defensive end for the Knights.

Milford got Kennett to within six with a bucket, but two free throws from Melnik and a Phil Erwin steal and hoop pushed Kingswood to a 23-13 lead.

Nate Ela hit a free throw and Matt Lautenschlager put in a hoop to pull Kennett back within seven, but Campbell answered with a bucket to put the lead back to nine. Ela then drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead to six, but a Melnik hoop and rebound closed out the half, giving Kingswood a 27-19 lead after two quarters.

The Lautenschlager brothers combined for three free throws sandwiched around a Meyers hoop early in the second half, making it 29-22 in favor of the Knights, but Irvine converted on a three-point play and Meyers drilled a hoop to push Kennett to a 34-22 lead.

Robert Starkey sunk a three-pointer for the Eagles to cut the lead to nine, but a pair of McKenzie free throws pushed it back to double digits. After a Milford steal and hoop, Irvine converted his second three-point play of the quarter and that started a 12-0 run to end the quarter for Kingswood, giving them a 48-27 lead at the horn. Meyers hit a hoop and two free throws and Velez hit a field goal and a three-pointer in the run.

Campbell hit a free throw and Dave Hersey drained a bucket to stretch Kingswood's lead to 51-27 at the start of the fourth quarter. Starkey hit another three-pointer for the Eagles, but a pair of free throws from Irvine and a bucket from Melnik kept Kingswood comfortably in front.

After another Starkey three-pointer, Meyers came up with a huge block on the defensive end. He then hit a free throw and McKenzie hit a hoop to give Kingswood a 58-33 lead.

A steal and hoop from Milford got Kennett back on the board, but Cam Whitcomb answered for the Knights. Jacob Lyman hit for Kennett, but Whitcomb drained a three-pointer to make it 63-37. Ryan Vajentic hit a field goal for Kennett and Erwin hit two free throws for the Knights to close out the scoring.

"It doesn't matter what the records are, it's a rivalry and they always play us tough, especially up here," Chick said.

The veteran coach noted that there were few big runs from either team, which helped keep the game close.

"We'd make a shot or two and a good stop, but there were no 15-point runs (early)," he said.

"I was really, really happy with how we played in the first half," Coté said. "We definitely rebounded the ball better than last time we played them."

Coté noted his game plan was to stay on Meyers' left side, making it harder for the southpaw to go to the hoop.

"I thought if we got off to a good start and shot well, we'd have an opportunity," the Eagle coach said. "Unfortunately the ball wasn't falling, which has been our problem."

The Eagles finished the regular season at 1-17, while the Knights finished at 9-9 and earned a spot in the Division II playoffs. Chick was anticipating either Pelham or Portsmouth as the first-round opponent.

"I'd just assume it be Pelham because we didn't match up well against Portsmouth at all," he said.

The playoffs began after deadline on Wednesday night. Check our sports section's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro/ for an update from that game.

The playoffs continue at the home of the higher seed on Saturday, March 12, at 7 p.m. The semifinals are at UNH on Tuesday, March 15, at 6 and 7:30 p.m.

JV action

The JV Knights bested the JV Eagles in their final regular season contests. Cam Whitcomb scored 15 to lead Kingswood, while Adam Szewczyk added 14 points and Parker Shure had 11. David Darrigo led the Eagles with 11 points on the night.

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