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Joyce Endee

Fitting finale

Kennett hoop boys grab win in final home game

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

SENIORS (l to r) Michael Lautenschlager, Alex Milford, Seth Davison, Dustin Stewart, Scott Conner and Robert Starkey pose for a photo prior to their final home game Feb. 23. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 27, 2012
NORTH CONWAY — If a Hollywood screenwriter was scripting a story on the 2011-2012 Kennett boys' basketball team, he or she may not have been able to script a better ending to the home season than the Eagles delivered on Thursday, Feb. 23.

With just one win under their belts on the season, the Eagles came into the final home game of the season against Laconia with high hopes, but struggled out of the gate.

But behind a monster night from one senior and contributions from all six seniors playing in their final home game, the Eagles rallied and walked off with a 49-42 win, sending them to their final game with a little momentum in their step.

Senior Seth Davison scored 18 points, including 10 in the second half, and all six seniors contributed on the offensive end for the victory.

"Our second and third quarters definitely were key," coach Steve Coté said. "We mixed up a couple of things in the full court and half court that caused them fits."

The mixing things up did put the Sachems off their game, as Laconia scored just four points in the second quarter and one in the third and went through a stretch of 13:19 between the second and third periods when only one point went on the board.

The game started more in the favor of the visiting Sachems, as they scored the first four points despite not having their top scorer, who had quit the team earlier in the day.

A Seth Davison three-point play cut the lead to one and a Robert Starkey three-pointer gave Kennett a 6-4 lead, but the Sachems scored the next two hoops to take a two-point lead.

After a Davison hoop pulled the Eagles even, Laconia closed out the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 14-8 lead after eight minutes.

The visitors hit the first hoop of the second quarter to push the lead to eight, but Alex Milford answered with a hoop. The Sachems followed with a bucket to push the lead to 18-10, but that was the last scoring they'd do in the quarter, as Kennett shut the door for the final five minutes of the frame.

Starkey drilled a three to cut the lead to five and three Davison free throws made it a two-point game. Starkey then drilled a three-pointer to give Kennett a 19-18 lead at the halftime break.

The Eagles continued their run in the third period, as Davison, Milford, Scott Conner and Jordan Stocker all had hoops, stretching the lead to 27-18 before Laconia finally got on the board, hitting a foul shot with three minutes to go in the period, their first hoop in more than 10 minutes of game time.

Davison followed with a bucket and Ryan Vajentic hit a three-pointer and a field goal to push the lead to 34-19. Davison then drained a three in the final seconds of the quarter to give Kennett a 37-19 lead after three quarters.

The Sachems found their stroke from downtown in the final frame and quickly began closing the gap. The visitors hit a three to open the fourth before a Conner hoop and a Davison three gave Kennett more separation at 42-22.

Laconia proceeded to hit two in a row from beyond the arc to cut the lead to 42-28, but Michael Lautenschlager hit a hoop for Kennett to make it 44-28. The Sachems hit another three then a field goal and two foul shots and the Eagle lead was down to nine at 44-35.

A pair of free throws from Dustin Stewart pushed the lead back to double digits before another Sachem three made it 46-38. Conner hit two free throws and Milford hit one down the stretch, allowing the Eagles to hold the Sachems off by the 49-42 tally.

"Defense is what's going to get us there," Coté said.

He noted that neither team was shooting well from outside early, but it seemed like both teams found that stroke in the second half.

"We started hitting those threes in the third quarter and it gave us a cushion," the veteran Eagle coach said.

However, Coté was well aware that Laconia was not going to lie down.

"Laconia is a gritty team and (Brandon) Sorrell, when we were at Laconia, he put his team on his back, so we knew what was in store," Coté said. "The bottom line was if we could keep our composure and hit our free throws."

The Eagle coach was especially pleased for the seniors, who got to go out on a high note. Davison, Stewart, Conner, Lautenschlager, Milford and Starkey were all playing their final home game for the Eagles.

"I am so happy for the seniors, it's a great way to end their careers at Kennett," Coté said.

Coté noted that after the Hanover games in the middle of the season, with a few small exceptions, the Eagles showed marked improvement and it paid off with a couple of wins, which was great for the team.

Davison finished with 18 points to lead Kennett, while Starkey had nine (all on threes) and Conner added six.

The Eagles played their final game after deadline Monday at Kingswood.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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