Tigers Run-and-Gun Their Way Past Hillcats

Newport — There are a number of talented Division III boys basketball teams in New Hampshire this winter, with Conant, Stevens, Berlin and Hopkinton in the mix along with Newport, which opened the season Friday night with an 85-59 win over Hillsboro-Deering at Wheeler Gym.

Kevin Fowlerm the Hillcats’ first-year coach, said what many veteran coaches have said who have faced Newport: “We have no answer for Andrew Houde,” he said.

While Houde finished with 29 points despite a low shooting percentage, this is a Newport team that scores seemingly at will because of its rapid push-it-up pace.

“You take a lot of shots, you get a lot of points,” Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo said.

In some ways, this was a typical opening night as the bodies were flying and the ball was bouncing all over the place. And there were plenty of fouls, as 65 personals were called.

That meant there were plenty of foul shots. Like the shooting from the floor, the foul shooting was not so hot — Newport was 20-of-38 and Hillsboro 13-of-27.

“While this may be my first year, I knew what we were coming into when we came up here,” Fowler said. “We knew we didn’t match up well, but our goal was to play hard and do the best we could. I think we did that.”

While Houde may be the Tigers’ headliner, there is a very strong supporting cast. Spencer Coronis (16 points), Zach Whalen (13) and Derrick Pare (10) are all factors. The common denominators among all four double-digit scorers is they are all juniors and they are all athletic.

Houde perhaps showed his athleticism best in a first-half play were he leaped, blocked the shot, then followed the ball out of bounds then leaped over the end-line and knocked it back in play to a teammate.

The pace of the game was hectic, Lavolpicelo was OK with it.

“Yeah, but there were times I wish we bothered to play defense at the other end,” he said. “We have to continue to improve on defense.”

Hillsboro tried to run with Newport, but the Tigers still scored 23 points in each of the first two periods and were in pretty good shape with a 46-27 lead at the break.

Houde, who scored eight straight points in two minutes just before the half, finished the first two periods with 22 points.

By the half, Hillsboro’s Brett Bennett, the team’s 6-foot-3 senior center, had four fouls. With Bennett on the bench, the scoring was left to Rood Minta, who finished with 16 points and was the only Hillcat in double figures.

The Hillcats were able to slow Houde down in the third period (3 points) it didn’t slow the Newport offense as Pare started the offense going with a 3-pointer, and by end of the frame it was a 66-40 game.

Mascoma comes to Newport on Tuesday.