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Newport Junior Reaches 1,000 Points in Victory

  • Newport's Andrew Houde gets a hug from his 5-year-old brother, Jackson Cote, as Houde's family comes to center court to congratulate him on scoring 1,000 career points on Feb. 6, 2014. At right is their mother, Erin Cote. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)

    Newport's Andrew Houde gets a hug from his 5-year-old brother, Jackson Cote, as Houde's family comes to center court to congratulate him on scoring 1,000 career points on Feb. 6, 2014. At right is their mother, Erin Cote. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Newport's Zach Whalen, left, and Jason Teeter crowd Stevens' Nate White in the second quarter of the game in Newport, N.H., on Feb. 6, 2014. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)

    Newport's Zach Whalen, left, and Jason Teeter crowd Stevens' Nate White in the second quarter of the game in Newport, N.H., on Feb. 6, 2014. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Newport's Andrew Houde gets a hug from his 5-year-old brother, Jackson Cote, as Houde's family comes to center court to congratulate him on scoring 1,000 career points on Feb. 6, 2014. At right is their mother, Erin Cote. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)
  • Newport's Zach Whalen, left, and Jason Teeter crowd Stevens' Nate White in the second quarter of the game in Newport, N.H., on Feb. 6, 2014. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)

Newport — Andrew Houde has a little brother, 5-year-old Jackson. Quite little, as in maybe hip high on the 6-foot, 3-inch Newport High junior. It’s safe to say Jackson is both Houde’s biggest and smallest fan.

And if Jackson’s teenage hops match those he pulls off now, he’ll make a decent basketball player when he’s older. Or pole vaulter.

Jackson wasn’t the first to reach Houde on Thursday night after he netted his 1,000th high school point in a 67-53 win over archrival Stevens in front of 16 family members and about 500 others shoehorned into Wheeler Gym. Houde’s teammates beat Jackson to the punch — or, rather, the tackle, one that knocked the prolific scorer to the midcourt floor as orange and black streamers cascaded from the stands.

After five minutes of pictures, flowers, smiles and congratulations, not to mention Jackson’s healthy, shoulder-high embrace of his brother — the Tigers got back to business. With Houde sidelined by first-half foul trouble, teammate Spencer Coronis poured in a career-high 36 points as Newport (12-1 league, 13-3 overall) continued its pas de deux with Conant atop the NHIAA Division III standings.

“Well, I just wanted to get it over with; I was a little nervous to start,” admitted Houde, who finished with 22 points. “After it got done, when the guys tackled me at half-court, that was a great feeling. Got to take a picture with my family, got back to the game and won. That’s nice.”

A lifelong Newport resident, Houde has scored most — but not all — of his points in Tiger togs.

The lanky shooting guard spent his freshman year at Pembroke Academy playing for Matt Alosa, the PA legend and son of Houde’s Concord-based AAU coach, Frank Alosa. That experience ended after one season and 107 points; it’s been all Newport ever since, and the Tigers have been the big beneficiaries.

Riding Houde’s points, Newport reached the state semifinals for the first time in more than a decade last winter. With Coronis’ development into an equally capable scorer, the Tigers have higher goals in mind this season — such as a tournament top seed.

“They want it, yeah,” said third-year Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo, himself a 2,000-point scorer at Kearsarge. “Whether first seed, second seed, third seed, whatever, we know we’re going to have tough games throughout the playoffs. We’re really dialing it down into a single-game approach.”

Lavolpicelo pulled Houde with him two points short of 1,000 during the Tigers’ 87-33 decimation of Hinsdale on Monday to make sure his junior scorer would be able to join Newport’s 1,000-point list in front of another Wheeler sellout. Houde wasted little time.

The basket came 58 seconds into the contest, moments after Stevens’ Ryan Tanguay (team-high 21 points) converted his own steal for the game’s first points. Inbounding under the Cardinals’ basket, Houde backed off a screen in the paint, took Coronis’ pass and banked it off the glass to tie the affair.

After the tackle, handshakes, back slaps and assorted bonhomie, Newport — through its dynamic duo — spent the night slowly pulling away from the Cardinals (4-9, 5-10). Houde scored seven of the Tigers’ 16 first-quarter points, finishing with a pull-up jumper from the right elbow over Tanguay two seconds shy of the period buzzer.

“His crossover to the middle, pull-up to the foul line reminds me of Stevie,” Stevens coach Scott MacNamee said. “But he’s a little bit different from Stevie in that he’s a foot taller and will get a shot off from 40 feet regardless of the pressure.”

It was Tanguay’s play that put Newport in peril. Houde had two fouls to his account before the game was 5½ minutes old, the second coming on a Tanguay drive. Houde drew his third and hit the bench with 4:50 left in the first half.

“He was in serious foul trouble against Sunapee the whole game,” said Lavolpicelo, referring to the Tigers’ 85-74 loss to the Lakers on Jan. 29, their only league defeat of the year. “That’s actually something we haven’t had to deal with a lot.”

But Newport now has Coronis as a second option, and the Tigers didn’t lose a beat with Houde riding pine.

The hosts held a 23-17 advantage when Houde drew foul No. 3. Coronis scored five of the Tigers’ final seven points of the half, and Zach Whalen dragged down three key defensive rebounds as Newport took a 30-26 cushion into the break.

With Houde and Coronis again linking up in the third quarter, the Tigers’ lead gradually grew. The two combined for 13 points in that stanza, which Houde closed with a dazzling double-clutch, two-handed scoop in traffic for a 46-37 lead.

Coronis lit up the Cards for 11 points — including three of his game-high five 3-pointers — early in the fourth as Newport pulled away.

“So far this season, 32 minutes of effort hasn’t always been the case; tonight, that was the case,” MacNamee said. “But now we’ve gotta combine 32 minutes of effort with intelligent basketball. We can’t just show up and play hard and expect to win. We’ve gotta to do that and now start to build upon that.”

Houde did his part on his big night. He scored. He assisted. He rebounded. He delivered flowers, to family members as well as Coronis’ mother, Diane. (“I spend the night at Spencer’s house all the time,” Houde said. “She’s a great cook.”) He ended the night munching on orange- and black-frosted cupcakes.

Little Spencer ran around the floor, carrying a sign commemorating his big brother’s big moment. He bore a smile as big as his face could contain.

Free Throws: Houde is the 13th player in Newport history to reach 1,000 points for a full career. Matt Spanos was the last Tiger male to do it, in 2003, while Samantha Hemingway was the last of either gender to hit the plateau in 2008. … Houde now has 407 points for the season and 913 for his Newport years. At his current 25.44 points per game average, he’d reach the 1,000 plateau in Tiger colors at Fall Mountain on Feb. 25. … Jordan Haines netted 13 points and Nate White delivered eight for the Cardinals, who visit Windsor on Tuesday. … Newport authorities had to close the Wheeler Gym doors 20 minutes prior to the start of the varsity game, having reached the building’s capacity. … Tiger fans shouting, “We want Gummy!” were rewarded when Lavolpicelo inserted senior Gunter “Gummy” Hubert into the game in the closing moments. … The Tigers visit Hopkinton on Monday. The Hawks are 10-1 heading into tonight’s visit to Hillsboro-Deering.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.