CHAD PETERSON gets a hand on a shot from Newfound’s Jesse Mitchell during action Dec. 28 in Gilford. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 02, 2012GILFORD — Newfound had the size, but the physical game went to Kingswood and in the end, physicality beat out sheer size and the Kingswood boys' basketball team earned a trip to the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament finals with a 53-40 win over the Bears on Wednesday, Dec. 28, in Gilford.
"My biggest thing going in was (Newfound's) size," Kingswood coach Dan Chick said. "But we can be very aggressive and that aggressiveness helps us against the size."
"It just got too physical," Newfound coach Alan Merrifield said. "But we knew what we were getting in to. It just got more physical than I wanted it to get."
The two teams were pretty evenly matched through much of the contest and it wasn't until the very end that Kingswood pulled away for good.
Neither team scored for more than two and a half minutes to open the game and Kingswood's Adam Fritchy got the Knights on the board first. Newfound's Ryan O'Connor followed that up by converting a three-point play for a 3-2 lead for the Bears, but buckets from Kohl Meyers and Fritchy put Kingswood back on top by three.
After a pair of free throws from O'Connor, Matt Haskell hit one from the line to tie the game at six, but Kingswood's Parker Shure closed out the quarter with a three-pointer to put Kingswood to a 9-6 lead after eight minutes.
Haskell pulled the Bears within one to open the second, but a Zach Smithwood rebound and hoop and a Meyers steal and hoop propelled Kingswood to a 13-8 advantage. Eric Vose hit a bucket for the Bears to cut the lead to three, but Zach McKenzie answered for Kingswood to again put the lead to five.
An O'Connor rebound and hoop put Newfound within three points again, but once again, Smithwood answered for the Knights with a rebound and putback. Zach Seaverns hit a hoop for the Bears, but Smithwood and Mackenzie Tetreault hit back-to-back buckets to close out the quarter, giving Kingswood a 21-14 lead at the halftime break.
McKenzie caught fire in the third quarter, as he hit the first bucket to push the lead to nine. After Jesse Mitchell drained a three-pointer for the Bears, McKenzie answered with a three-pointer at the other end. O'Connor hit for two and McKenzie answered that with two field goals at the other end, pushing Kingswood's lead to 30-19.
Haskell hit back-to-back hoops to cut the lead to seven, but another McKenzie three-pointer pushed the lead back to 10. Haskell did his part, as he drilled two more hoops to bring his team within six, but a Shure hoop kept Kingswood at a safe distance. O'Connor made a great move to close out the quarter, putting in a layup to make it 35-29 after three.
McKenzie accounted for 12 of Kingswood's points in the frame.
Shure opened the fourth with a hoop and Steven Guyotte hit a free throw for the Bears to keep the deficit at seven.
After a Meyers bucket, Noah Merrill hit two from the free throw line to bring his team back within seven, but another McKenzie three-pointer pushed Kingswood's lead back to double digits.
O'Connor and Mitchell hit free throws for the Bears, but Meyers answered with two of his own from the line for a 44-35 Kingswood lead.
After Haskell hit another hoop, Meyers hit two more free throws and McKenzie hit another hoop. Meyers sunk a shot to push the lead to 50-36 before Haskell and Ben Prive hit back-to-back buckets to again cut the lead to 10.
However, McKenzie hit a free throw and Tetreault closed out the scoring with a hoop for the 53-40 final.
"Zack's a good shooter, he just has to get the right mindset and tonight he got it," Chick said.
However, Chick noted that the size mismatch scared him a bit going in so he was happy to see his team play tough to compensate for the Newfound size inside.
"We're not very big, but I feel like the guys are pretty tough," Chick said. "We can play with bigger teams as long as we maintain that toughness."
"We have to establish our inside-outside game a little better," Merrifield noted. "We were a little inconsistent."
The Bear coach was pleased with the effort on the defensive end, but his team couldn't quite get past the Kingswood aggressiveness.
"They tried to put a lot of pressure on the guards and really tried to get in the guards' heads," Merrifield continued. "They do a lot of little things to get in their heads."
The Bear coach said he was hoping his squad would get Kingswood off of their game, but instead, the Knights got the Bears off their game.
Merrifield lamented that the Bears have still played just one 32-minute game this season (a win at Mascoma), something he said his squad needs to do to be successful.
"We need to come out as a team with five guys on the court and seven guys on the bench playing as one," he said. "I don't think we have that right now."
He added that he hoped the Mascoma game won't be the highlight of the season and he expects his team to create more highlights as the year goes on.
McKenzie led all scorers with 20 on the night, while Meyers poured in 12 for the Knights. Haskell led the Bears with 15 points, while O'Connor chipped in with 12 before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
The Bear boys earned their way into the semifinals with a hard-fought 44-43 win over Laconia in the opening round of the tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Laconia led 13-12 after one, but Newfound pulled ahead 19-18 after the first half. The Bears held the one-point lead through three, leading 32-31 with eight minutes to go and closed out the 44-43 win.
Haskell had a big night for the Bears, pouring in 16 points, while Mitchell added 14, including four three-pointers. O'Connor had 10, including six in the fourth quarter.
The Bears will host Belmont on Friday, Jan. 6, at 6:30 p.m. and Franklin on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126