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Tigers Hold Off Cougars

Newport — “Yes, it was like root canal,” said Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo after his Tigers had to grind out a 46-41 win over upset-minded Kearsarge last night in a New Hampshire Division III boys basketball game at Wheeler Gym.

The win kept Newport undefeated at 6-0. They had to earn every point against the 1-6 Cougars.

“I think our defense frustrated them,” said Kearsarge coach Nate Camp. “We tried to make every shot a tough shot.”

Kearsarge, which played in Division II until this year, is now 1-6 , but the Cougars very close to getting win No. 2.

While Kearsarge never led in the fourth quarter, it was a 40-38 game with 3:26 to play. At that point Devin Wade, who has played only sparingly this season because of a shoulder injury, broke ahead of the pack and got a three-point play. Newport then converted Kearsarge’s second consecutive turnover into two more points as sophomore Andrew Houde added two free throws. Carter Noordsij dropped in a three for the Cougars to make it 45-41, but it was too little, too late.

“This was one of those backyard games with a lot of scrapping going on and people making plays,” Camp said. “We just didn’t make enough of them.”

Meanwhile Lavolpicelo thought the focus wasn’t there for his team after a tough game with Stevens last Friday and a long road trip on Monday.

“We just weren’t in the right frame of mind and the Kearsarge defense frustrated us,” he said.

The complexion of the game took a huge change between the second and third periods as Newport took a 21-7 lead and then went more than eight minutes without getting a point as Kearsarge got back in the game in a big way at 21-20. Newport finally broke the spell when Peter Wacholtz drove the lane and scored. That put the Tigers into an 8-0 run and the lead to 29-20. But the Cougars would not go away and trailed just 35-29 at the end of three periods.

Noordsij, who had a 15-point game, kept the Cougars in the hunt when he scored five points in the early part of the fourth quarter to make it 39-36. However, turnovers and some solid free throw shooting by the Tigers was too much for Kearsarge overcome.

Lavolpicelo thought his team looked a little tired and attributed that to their recent schedule.

“We really struggled out their offensively at times,” he said. “I thought our defense was good, but we might have been a bit tired offensively. Of course Kearsarge’s defense did frustrate us. However, we picked up the win and that’s what’s important.”

Derrick Pare continued to be a big basket-maker for the Tigers after his 3-pointer lifted his team out of a 5-1 hole at the 3:48 mark of the first period. He also scored the Tigers’ final four points of the period to get Newport on top at 12-7. Then when Kearsarge closed to 24-20 in the third period he hit his second 3-pointer. He finished with 12 points.

Newport hosts Hillsboro-Deering on Friday. Hopkinton comes to Kearsarge next Tuesday.