Sunapee’s Lake-Effect Storm Stuns Tigers

  • Jesse Stiffler, of Sunapee, tosses the ball up to a teammate after scrambling with Jason Teeter, right, and Noah Wade, second from right, of Newport, during their game in Newport, N.H. Thursday, February 20, 2014.  Sunapee won 61 - 60. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Jesse Stiffler, of Sunapee, tosses the ball up to a teammate after scrambling with Jason Teeter, right, and Noah Wade, second from right, of Newport, during their game in Newport, N.H. Thursday, February 20, 2014. Sunapee won 61 - 60.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrew Houde, of Newport, shoots outside the three point line against Sunapee during their game in Newport, N.H. Thursday, February 20, 2014. Sunapee won 61 - 60.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Andrew Houde, of Newport, shoots outside the three point line against Sunapee during their game in Newport, N.H. Thursday, February 20, 2014. Sunapee won 61 - 60.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jesse Stiffler, of Sunapee, tosses the ball up to a teammate after scrambling with Jason Teeter, right, and Noah Wade, second from right, of Newport, during their game in Newport, N.H. Thursday, February 20, 2014.  Sunapee won 61 - 60. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Andrew Houde, of Newport, shoots outside the three point line against Sunapee during their game in Newport, N.H. Thursday, February 20, 2014. Sunapee won 61 - 60.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Newport — Sunapee High’s boys basketball team made four 3-point baskets in the final 61 seconds for a jaw-dropping 61-60 win over Newport at a stunned Wheeler Gym on Thursday night.

The unlikely hero was Laker senior Alex Gioldassis, who hadn’t scored all night until he connected on three straight from beyond the arc in the final 40 seconds, banking the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left.

“I’ve been coaching for 23 years, and I’m sure I may have been involved in a game like this, but I can’t think of one,” Sunapee coach Ed Tenney said.

Tenney was close to being a factor in a Sunapee defeat when he picked up a technical following a foul on one of his players in the fourth quarter. That sent Newport’s Andrew Houde to the line, and he converted three of four attempts for a 56-49 Newport lead with 2:01 to go.

“I thought the technical was academic at the time,” Tenney admitted.

Newport, which trailed all night until there was 5:50 left in the fourth quarter, started working on the clock and looked comfortably in front at 56-49 with 1:16 to go. Even when Sunapee’s Matt Tenney hit a 3-pointer (his only field goal) to cut the lead to 56-52, the Tigers still looked in good shape.

That was until Gioldassis got his hands on the ball. Gioldassis first 3 came with 40 seconds left, bringing the score to 58-55. Newport increased the lead to 60-55 before Gioldassis hit again to make it 60-58 with 16 seconds left. Still, Newport looked OK as the Tigers had the ball and Spencer Coronis was fouled. Newport was in the bonus meaning Coronis had two shots. He missed them both.

“When Coronis missed those free throws, I said give me the ball,” Gioldassis said.

He got the ball, but was several feet beyond the arc and let it fly anyway. The shot was long, but just long enough as it banked in with 6.5 seconds left.

Newport did get a desperation shot away before the game was over, but it was missed and Tenney leaped skyward as the final horn sounded.

“You know it was just one of those times when you just knew no matter where you shot the ball from it was going to go in,” said Gioldassis.

A key sidelight to the win was the defensive job the Lakers did on Andrew Houde, Newport’s 1,000-point scorer. Led by the work of Noah Skarin and others, the Lakers held Houde to just two field goals and only one 3-point basket. Houde finished with 13 points.

Both teams came into the game with 12-2 records, with one of Newport losses an 85-76 loss at Newport on Jan. 28.

Sunapee is a New Hampshire Division IV team and Newport in Division III. Tenney thought such divisional crossover games were a good idea.

“Now that we have played, everybody in Sunapee is going to be cheering for Newport to do well in their tournament,” Tenney said.

Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo simply said Sunapee made its shots and won the game.

“Maybe we should have pushed that kid (Gioldassis) out further,” Lavolpicelo said.

When James Fitzgerald scored 15 points for Sunapee in the first period as the Lakers shot out to a 23-12 lead it looked like a repeat of the January victory.

Newport closed to 34-24 at the half, then went on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and it was a scramble the rest of the way — until Gioldassis put on his Superman suit.