Stevens Hoop Peaking at the Right Time

Langdon, n.h. — Making its free throws down the stretch, the Stevens High boys basketball team came away from the loud Wildcat Den on Wednesday night with 60-48 win over Fall Mountain.

It was not a tournament game, but it seemed like one as the large crowd was vocal and didn’t quiet down until the Cardinals closed out the game with a 9-2 run to put the Wildcats away.

The Cardinals are closing out the regular season playing some of their best basketball of the year. They followed a startling win over Conant last week with a game for the ages, as they rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Kearsarge. Once 2-6, Stevens (8-9) can finish the season at .500 with a win at Hillsboro-Deering on Friday night.

“You know, this was one of those nights where we played a complete game,” said Stevens coach Scott MacNamee. “I think the key was the communication on defense. There have been games where we had two or three good quarters, but tonight we were good for four quarters,” he said.

The game was wild at times, as a Fall Mountain player was ejected and MacNamee was hit with a technical for stepping on the floor to protest a situation that saw an official put the ball in play while substitutions were being made. Neither situation had a factor in the outcome of the game.

The Cardinals can finish no worse than 15th in the New Hampshire Division III standings, and MacNamee thinks if all the cards fall into place Stevens could end up 12th, which would mean a first-round bye. But is they finish lower than 12th they will have a first-round game at home on Tuesday.

“Anybody that gets to Southern New Hampshire University (site of the semifinal and finals) has a chance,” MacNamee said.

Fall Mountain, which has a closing regular season game at Monadnock on Friday, is 9-8 and started the day tied for 10th with two other teams.

“I don’t know where all this is going to wind up,” Fall Mountain coach Jason Bardis said.

What Bardis would have liked to have seen Thursday night was a better transition game that resulted in more baskets, particularly easy baskets.

“We just didn’t get that part of the game going,” Bardis said. “We had to work real hard for everything. It would have been nice to get some lay-ups.”

The final minutes of the game were a loud scramble. With 2:39 to play, Stevens had a 51-41 lead, but the Wildcats’ Nick Burns made a shot from underneath, followed by a Stevens turnover that the Wildcats turned into a Matt Wood 3-pointer, and it was a 56-51 game. With 1:17 to play and the noise deafening, the Cardinals’ Tyler Haines found Nate White free underneath and the lead was back to seven at 53-46.

This put the Wildcats into a must-foul situation, and the Cardinals made their free throws to hold on.

Ryan Tanguay finished with a 19-point, nine-rebound game even though he had to sit twice with foul trouble.

White’s hard work underneath got him a 20-point game, while Jordan Haines had 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Burns was the only Wildcat in double figures with 14.