Third-Seeded Tigers Hold Off Feisty Cougars
Newport’s Spencer Coronis hugs his teammate Josh Murphy after the Tigers’ 46-44 win over Kearsarge last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Newport’s Andrew House drives past Kearsarge’s Carter Noordsij during the Tigers’ 46-44 second-round win in Newport last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
The Newport bench cheers as the Tigers cement their narrow lead in the final seconds against Kearsarge. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Newport — Sophomore Andrew Houde swished three foul shots with 17.8 seconds left, lifting Newport to a 46-44 win over Kearsarge last night in the second round of the NHIAA Division III boys basketball tournament at Wheeler Gym.
The Tigers trailed 44-43 after Kearsarge’s Peter Allen hit an off-balance shot to give the Cougars a one-point lead with 48 seconds to go. On Newport’s next possession, the Tigers had trouble against the Kearsarge defense. Houde attempted a deep 3-pointer that was off the mark, but he was taken down and given three shots.
“When he got up and pounded his fist, I felt like he was going to do well at the line,” Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo said.
“We took a timeout, and all I talked about was what we were going to do after we got the lead.”
Houde, who had a 21-point game after being held to six points in Kearsarge last Friday, made all three foul shots without touching iron.
Kearsarge still had a chance to tie or take the lead, but the Cougars had a hard time clearing for a good shot. They eventually attempted a shot that was way off the mark. Newport rebounded and ran out the clock.
It was the third time the two teams had met. The Tigers won all three games.
Kearsarge came into the game coming off a first-round win over Inter-Lakes on Tuesday. The Cougars were the 19th seed against the third-seeded Tigers (18-1).
“Hey, we started 3-6 and took the third seed to the wire,” said Kearsarge coach Nate Camp. “That’s pretty good.”
It was the first time Newport hosted a postseason game since 2000. The Tigers will be back at Wheeler Gym tomorrow night in the quarterfinals against No. 6 Hopkinton, the only team to have beaten Newport this winter.
Newport had 450 tickets available; athletic director Doug Beaupre said all but 20 were sold.
The game had a strange start. Kearsarge, the underdog, raced out to a 15-4 first-quarter lead as Newport could not take care of the ball and couldn’t make a shot.
“I think we showed our youth (three sophomore starters) and inexperience,” Lavolpicelo said. “Once we made a few baskets, we were all right.”
Newport went on a 19-9 run in the second quarter, took a 25-24 lead at the half and the game was tight the rest of the way.
“It was kind of a redemption win for us,” Newport sophomore guard Spencer Coronis said. “We got beat in a play-in game last year and we came back with a big win on own court in front of a lot of people.”
While it was joyous win for Coronis and his teammates, it was a tough loss for Kearsarge senior captain Ollie Gallo.
“We were so close,” he said. “This was very painful.”
Houde, who Lavolpicelo said “was unstoppable at times,” had a big second quarter to get the Tigers out of a 15-4 deficit. He hit three long 3-pointers and a steal, then raced the length of the floor for the layup as his 11-point period brought the Tigers out of a deep hole.
Newport started the fourth quarter with a 40-34 lead and did not have a good period. They missed free throws, turned the ball over and scored just three points as Kearsarge took a 44-43 lead with 48 seconds to go.
“I knew if we could get one more stop we had a good chance,” Camp said. Almost. Houde took a long range shot that was off the mark, but he was clearly fouled and made his free throws to decide the game.
“We left it all on floor,” said Camp, whose Cougars finished at 7-13.