Gilford’s David Sykie goes up for a layup during the Golden Eagles’ 66-51 win over Belmont on Feb. 21. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
February 27, 2012BELMONT – It was Senior Night for the Belmont High School boys' basketball team on Feb. 21. But it was visiting Gilford High School that made it a night to remember.
The Golden Eagles shot the lights out from downtown, sinking nine three-pointers on the night to breeze to a 66-51 victory in the regular season finale for both squads.
"We finally started hitting some shots," explained Gilford coach Chip Veazey. "We really moved the ball around and then we had some good looks and they went in for us."
Gilford senior guard Connor Veazey was the most deadly sharpshooter on the night, as he scored 18 points, all coming thanks to six threes. Veazey hit four threes alone in the third quarter, as the Eagles scored 27 points in the frame to take a commanding 60-31 advantage heading into the fourth.
"We have guys who can drive and stuff like that, so I just try and get open for them to pass me the ball," the senior said. "I had one shot that bounced pretty much all the way around the rim and went in for me. We just started to knock down some shots."
Gilford (11-7) got off to a strong start despite the Senior Night festivities, as the Belmont duo of Cawlin Clough and Gene Duclos was honored before tipoff. GHS senior Ronny Bean scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter, sinking a pair of threes in the process, as the Eagles ended the opening period on a 12-2 run to take a 17-7 lead after eight minutes of action.
"Bean killed us in the first quarter," admitted Belmont coach Derek Hamilton. "We came out in a zone, thought we'd live and die with them shooting threes. But that obviously didn't work out for us."
The Gilford lead grew to 27-11 in the second quarter before Belmont's Kaleb Brace scored back-to-back hoops midway through the quarter. Cawlin Clough and Pedro Perez sank free throws just before halftime to get the Red Raiders within 33-18 at intermission.
"We started the game well and that's important," said coach Veazey. "Something we talked about before the game was that we wanted to use this as a first tournament game."
Despite a fullcourt press from the Red Raiders to start the third, Gilford managed to settle into its half court offense, and that's where Veazey took off. He drained two straight threes early in the quarter and teammate Derrick Dubois added another just seconds later. Veazey then followed with two more threes, the latter extending the Gilford lead to 52-26 with 3:43 left.
"They shot the lights out, especially in that third quarter," said Hamilton. "You hope to come out of the half and cut into the lead. But we were a little late getting out on their shooters. It's tough, we're putting pressure full court and they're still able to get into their half court sets."
Trailing by 31 early in the fourth quarter however, the Red Raiders (4-14) didn't go away. Bret Spaulding drilled a three, Jared Clough scored four straight points and Duclos put back some hoops thanks to offensive rebounds. All told, Belmont ended the game on a 20-4 run to close the final gap to 66-51.
"It's discouraging to the kids but to their credit, they finished the basketball game tonight," said Hamilton. "We're happy they came out and won the fourth quarter, and that's something to take out of a game like this."
Brace led Belmont with 12 points, while Jared Clough scored 11 points for the Red Raiders. Spaulding had 10, including three 3's, to put three BHS players in double figures.
Dubois had nine for the Eagles while David Sykie chipped in six in a solid all-around game.
"The focus was really good tonight," admitted coach Veazey. "We did what we've been working on. We've played like seniors at times this year, and tonight was one of those nights."