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Cards End With A Win

Claremont — What started out as a promising season for the Stevens High boys basketball team — seven wins in the first eight games — was followed a long down period, with seven losses in the eight games going into last night’s game against Hillsboro-Deering. But the Cardinals regrouped enough to earn a 51-40 win at Carr Gym to wrap up a spot in the NHIAA Division III tournament.

The victory clinched the 12th spot for the Cardinals, who will travel to Litchfield, N.H., where they’ll face fifth-seeded Campbell in a play-down game Thursday. Campbell is 14-4.

“We came out flat, stayed flat, but got the job done,” said Stevens point guard Billy Brooks, who returned to the lineup for the first time in three weeks. Brooks has been out with a dislocated shoulder and he said he was “about 70 percent” last night. He took a hard fall while driving in the fourth quarter, but said he didn’t land on the shoulder. “I took that on the hip,” he said

It was one of those wins, that while important, was not played with a lot of flair.

“We haven’t played well in a long time,” Stevens coach Scott MacNamee said. “We’ve got one more chance. We’ll have to see how much they want it.”

Hillsboro-Deering (4-14) has lost seven straight and had not scored more than 40 points in those seven losses.

While Stevens had the lead all the night, it was not one of those comfortable leads as the Hillcats trailed by only five, 41-36, with 5:36 to play.

Brooks then led a 7-0 run as he made five of the points on a put-back, drive and a free throw. Before the game, there was some doubt as to whether he would play, but he took a regular shift and had 11 points.

Because it was senior night, MacNamee started his five seniors and played them as a unit for most of the first quarter and the start of the third quarter. The seniors got the Cardinals out to a 9-5 lead after one that got to 25-16 at the half. As the second half moved along Stevens took a 31-19 lead, but couldn’t put the Hillcats away. As the third quarter was drawing to a close, Viktor Montanez was fouled while taking a 3-point shot with .5 seconds to go. Montanez missed the first, made the second and missed the third. But as the ball rolled off the rim, Ian Robie tapped the ball back for the Hillcats to make the Stevens lead uncomfortable at 36-30.

Notes: Paul Potter and Andrew Marro were inducted into the first Stevens High School Wall of Fame last night. Potter, who died in 2012, graduated from Stevens in 1947 and began teaching and coaching at the school in 1956. He retired in 1985. He taught mathematics and coached track, skiing and golf and was the New Hampshire Track Coach of the Year in 1987. He was the first Stevens graduate to be a Stevens teacher. ... Marro graduated from Stevens in 1980 and spent 30 years in the Marine Corps, enlisting in 1983 and reaching the rank of master gunnery sergeant. He served in a number of combat operations including Desert Storm. ... Also cited last night was Scott Leavitt, who has been at the scorer’s table as an announcer or official scorer for 20 years.