Packed Gym Watches Newport Hoops Edge Stevens

Claremont — Newport is the top team in New Hampshire Division III boys basketball because it does not lose any close games. Last night at Stevens, the Tigers hung on for a 61-57 win over the Cardinals at Carr Gym and it was the sixth time this season that Newport has won games by six points or less. It was also the second time the Tigers (13-0) beat the Cardinals by four points, having knocked off Stevens 53-49 on Jan. 4.

If there was a key factor in the Tigers win last night it was probably the foul line where they were 17-of-19 including eight of nine in the fourth quarter.

“In this environment, that’s super,” said Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo.

That environment was a full house of 600 with many people being turned away at the door. A fire department spokesman said that there cannot be anymore people in the building than there are seats. There might have been additional seating on the stage behind the south basket, but recent rain resulted in leakage onto the stage floor. Most of the tickets were sold in the schools prior to the game.

A woman selling tickets said she had only 55 for sale once the doors were opened. Many stayed in the lobby before the varsity game began hoping to take the seat of someone who left early. Lavolpicelo said when the team bus pulled in before 5 p.m. there was a line of people waiting to get in.

Stevens was coming off a 64-62 win from the night before at Hopkinton, but Cardinals coach Scott MacNamee said he was not using that as an excuse.

“I think I probably should have played more people,” he said. “I think certain player showed some fatigue at certain times in the fourth quarter.”

Like the game at Newport, this one came down to the final moments. Newport had leads of six and five points in the final two minutes and each time, a Stevens 3-pointer made it a one basket game. At 54-49 Jordan Haines hit one from beyond the arc.

Devin Wade then hit two free throws and the Tigers got the lead back to 59-54 when Donald Pellerin hit a 3-pointer to make it 59-57 with three seconds to go, and Stevens was out of timeouts.

With .2 seconds left, however, Newport called a timeout with the ball under the Stevens basket. A bit of discussion followed, and one second was out back on the clock. When that happened, Lavolpicelo wanted his timeout back. The officials agreed.

It didn’t matter as Newport’s Spencer Coronis was quickly fouled as he made both free throws to end the game.

Another unfortunate thing for Stevens happened when scrappy Billy Brooks fouled out in the fourth quarter. Brooks was having a big fourth quarter with nine points, but his aggressiveness cost him when he was tagged with his fifth foul with 2:46 to play. Lavolpicelo thought that it was significant that Brooks was no longer in the game.

“Brooks is one of the better players around,” said the Newport coach.

Stevens (8-5) has lost four of its last six, but MacNamee felt pretty good about the way his team played last night.

“It was a game that could have gone either way,” he said. “I have nothing to complain about.”

Jordan Haines had a big game for the Cardinals with 22 points. Brooks added 12 and Logan Batchelder 11. He hit three threes. Newport sophomore sensation Andrew Houde had a 20-point night with four 3-pointers and a 6 for 7 effort from the foul line.

Newport is looking at another tight game on Tuesday, when Hopkinton comes to Wheeler Gym. Stevens hosts Windsor on Wednesday.