JAY MOUSSEAU goes hard to the hoop for a pair of points late in the Timber Wolves’ win over Campbell on March 3. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 05, 2012LITCHFIELD — The third time is a charm.
There was no question that Campbell has had Prospect Mountain's number over the last few months.
The Cougars were the first team to defeat the Prospect Mountain hoop boys, getting a win in late January in Alton. The Cougars were the lone team to beat the Timber Wolves twice, picking up a win on Feb. 14 in Litchfield.
Additionally, the Cougar girls' hoop team knocked the Prospect girls out of the playoffs on their way to the Division III championship game and the Cougar soccer boys ended the season for the Prospect Mountain boys back in the fall season.
Needless to say, the Timber Wolves were due.
The Prospect hoop boys collected on that debt on Saturday, March 3, fighting through a physical battle to come away with a 51-47 win in the Division III quarterfinals, earning the team its third trip to the Final Four in the last five years.
"Pregame, I told t hem, don't get too high or too low, it's a long game," coach Tom Bourdeau said. "But when Campbell came back (in the third), our guys were tripping over their chins."
However, with the game tied after three quarters, Bourdeau noted it was a whole new game with eight minutes to play.
Prospect got two huge three-pointers from senior guard Pat Cassidy in the final frame to help pull out the four-point win.
Campbell pulled out to a 2-0 lead with the first hoop of the game but never led again.
It took almost four minutes for the Timber Wolves to get on the board, but a Logan Roberts tip tied the game at two and a Zack Drouin three-pointer gave Prospect a 5-2 lead.
A Campbell three tied the game, but two free throws from Drouin and a bucket from Austin Perrin pushed Prospect to a four-point lead. After another Campbell hoop, Cassidy and Drouin hit hoops to open up a 13-7 lead. The Cougars got the final hoop of the quarter, but Prospect led 13-9 after one quarter.
Roberts hit the first hoop of the second quarter and Drouin converted on his own steal for a 17-9 lead. Prospect also forced the Cougars into the bonus with 6:38 to go in the half.
Roberts took advantage with two free throws for a 19-9 lead. After Campbell got on the board 3:11 into the frame, Drouin hit back-to-back hoops to push Prospect's lead to 23-11 with 3:16 to go in the half.
After a free t hrow and a hoop got the Cougars back to within nine, Roberts hit a jumper to push the lead back to double digits. After another Campbell hoop, Drouin hit a bucket for a 27-16 lead. Campbell hit a three-pointer, but Perrin answered with a trey of his own to push the lead to 30-19 with 20 seconds to go.
However, Campbell got the final hoop of the half and Prospect's lead was 30-21 at halftime.
The hosts got on the board first in the third quarter, but hoops from Cassidy and Perrin pushed Prospect's lead to 11 at 34-23. However, Campbell got a three-point play and two hoops to cut the lead to four and then hit a free throw to cut the lead to just three, 34-31, with 2:34 to go in the quarter.
Perrin hit a pair from the line, but a Campbell three-pointer closed the gap to 36-34.
An Ethan Henderson jumper upped the lead to four again, but Campbell scored the final four points of the quarter and tied the game at 38 heading to the final frame.
Cassidy, playing with four fouls, drilled his first big three-pointer of the fourth quarter to get Prospect out on the right foot to start. After a pair of Campbell free throws, Jay Mousseau hit a hoop and then drilled two free throws. Drouin followed with a bucket to give Prospect a 47-40 lead with 4:50 to go.
Campbell got another hoop to cut the lead to five, but Cassidy sunk his second three of the quarter to make it 50-42 with 3:15 to go in the game.
Campbell got a hoop and a three-pointer to cut the lead to 50-47 with 1:55 to go. Drouin got a huge block at the other end and then a traveling call gave Prospect the ball back.
However, a jump ball that appeared to just about everyone in the gym to be a foul, gave the Cougars a final chance. The hosts missed three three-pointers in a row and Mousseau hauled in a defensive rebound on the third miss and was fouled. The junior hit a free throw to make it 51-47 with seven seconds to go and Campbell couldn't do anything else.
"That's a 3 vs. 6 game," said Bourdeau.
The first-year coach, having faced the Cougars twice already, knew he probably had to stay away from the normal fast break to keep his team fresh.
"We like to run the ball," Bourdeau said. "But we didn't look at the fast break today to try to save legs for late in the game."
Those breaks may have paid off, as Roberts, Mousseau and Perrin, the Timber Wolf front line, each played the entire 32 minutes.
"We're more than a one-horse team, our guys stepped up," Bourdeau said. "We know we can play with anyone. If we play our game, we can compete."
Drouin led the way for Prospect with 17 points, while Cassidy added 10, Perrin put in nine and Roberts had eight.
With the win, Prospect advanced to the Division III semifinals for the third time in five years. Prospect took on second-seeded Conant in the semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University after deadline Tuesday, March 6. The Division III finals are Saturday, March 10, at 5 p.m., also at SNHU.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126