Woodsville Junior Prefers Jump Shots to Pit Stops

  • Woodsville's Garrett Olsen makes a jump shot during the third period against Colebrook, Thursday night, January 12, 2017. Woodsville beat Colebrook at home with a final score of 64-30. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — John Happel

  • Woodsville's Garret Olsen returns the ball down court during the first period against Colebrook Thursday night, January 12, 2017. Woodsville beat Colebrook at home with a final score of 64-30. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 1/12/2017 11:47:59 PM
Modified: 1/13/2017 4:53:34 PM

Woodsville — Mike Olsen has a situation any parent would love to have: a teenage son who doesn’t want the keys to the car. Stock cars usually don’t have keys, anyway.

Olsen’s youngest son, Garrett, has found a different machine to operate, and it suits him well.

Switching between point guard and shooting forward, the Woodsville High junior has been growing in importance to the Engineers’ boys basketball team, which rode the younger Olsen’s game-high 22 points to an efficient 64-30 win over Colebrook on Thursday night at the Woodsville Community Building.

Mike Olsen won a pair of NASCAR Busch North championship in the early 2000s. He maintains his old North Haverhill race shop for his oldest son, Ryan, who is showing his father’s affinity for asphalt.

Garrett’s preferred track is hardwood, however. After a run to last year’s NHIAA Division IV semifinals and a strong start to the current campaign, the youngest Olsen and the Engineers (6-1 league, 7-2 overall) are finding the road reasonably smooth.

“We have some guys back from last year — Sam (Pushee), Eric (Thornton) and Cooper (Davidson) — and we’ve all been working together,” said Olsen, who set season and career highs with Thursday’s effort. “We all have been growing up together, so we’re working together. We’ve been messing around in practices, hanging out after practices and getting to know each other. We know where to find each other on the court.”

That’s become apparent for a team that has lost just once in D-IV play one year after making a run to the state semifinals.

“We made shots,” Woodsville coach Jamie Walker said. “Anytime you’re playing and you make shots on the offensive end, it looks like your offense is working. Defensively, I thought we contained their point guard, which is key against these guys. We kept him on one side of the floor, got some turnovers, which led to some easy baskets.”

Ryan and Garrett were a regular presence at the track when their father was competing on the now-defunct Busch North circuit. When Mike was done with a race, he’d return to the hauler to talk shop with his racing-legend grandfather, Stub Fadden, or old friend and NASCAR crew chief, Frank Stoddard. The boys would simply run around the adults, as little ones are apt to do.

Ryan has begun to take over for his father on the race track, competing regularly at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. He also debuted on the ACT Late Model Tour last summer and nearly copped rookie of the year honors.

Driving as a competitive outlet has never appealed to Garrett, however. He has fond memories of Mike’s career and he gladly supports Ryan, but he’s found the basketball court to be his preferred surface.

“He offered for me to get in a car multiple times, but it’s not really my thing,” Garrett said. “I don’t really like to race. I just like basketball.

“I just feel like I understand it more. I know what I’m doing on the court. I know what I’m doing with the ball.”

The youngest Olsen left no doubt of that against the Mohawks (4-4).

Olsen started by scoring the game’s first eight points, burying two 3-pointers around a 16-foot win jumper. Thornton, who with Olsen has provided a two-headed point guard replacement for the graduated Derek Maccini, dumped two triples of his own off the bat as Woodsville built a 17-4 lead after less than five minutes.

Walker calls Olsen a point guard, but the junior fades to wing forward when the Engineers drop back into their 2-3 zone defense. Between Olsen, Pushee (15 points) and Davidson, Woodsville presents a long-limbed defensive frontcourt that can adequately cover corner to corner when not competing for blocked shots or rebounds.

“Our important guys are going to pick up enough fouls the way they play that I don’t need them picking up cheap fouls out and around,” Walker said of his zone strategy. “With Coop, Sam playing underneath, with Garrett attacking the basket, those guys are going to get fouls. We’re trying to minimize them by playing a zone.”

The Engineers kept Colebrook point guard Jose Alvarado reasonably under wraps most of the night, holding the senior southpaw to 10 points. At the other end of the floor, periodic scoring outbursts from Olsen, Thornton (10 points) and Pushee gradually allowed Woodsville to pull away for a comfortable win.

To date, only defending champion Littleton (in a 63-25 rout last Friday) and D-III Stevens (in a 57-50 loss at Hanover High’s Connecticut River Shootout) have flattened Woodsville’s tires. Both squads pressured the Engineers into defeats.

“It’s going to come down to us being able to handle pressure,” Walker said. “We’ve played two teams that pressed us really hard, and we had trouble.”

That may eventually require someone with two hands on the wheel — or the basketball, in this case — with a clear view of the road.

The youngest Olsen doesn’t need a car pushing several hundred horsepower to enjoy himself or have success. He likes being a piece of the machine rather than the pilot.

“I think we can make it to Plymouth (State and the final four) if we’re all together and we’re all in sync,” Olsen said. “We’re really good when we’re in sync.”

Free Throws: Olsen’s night included four rebounds, three assists, five steals and a full-palm block of Colebrook’s Deagan Riff on a late first-half drive. Olsen delivered one of his assists from his stomach, poking the ball away from three Mohawks for Pushee to finish. … Thornton took a pass seconds into the second half, then stopped in front of his bench and held the ball aloft, calling for a stop in play. He’d realized he’d been given a smaller girls ball to start the half. “I knew that when I palmed it,” he said, exchanging the small ball for the larger alternative. … Riff, a freshman, also had 10 points for Colebrook. The Mohawks’ 11-player roster consists of two seniors, with the rest sophomores or freshmen. … The Engineers host Rivendell on Monday night.

Girls Basketball

Colebrook 54Woodsville 25

Woodsville — Michaella Biron scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter as Colebrook ran away from Woodsville (6-4 overall, 5-3 NHIAA).

The Engineers led, 11-9, late in the first period, before a series of turnovers gave the Mohawks the lead, Woodsville coach Russ Wilcox said. The Engineers were outscored in the second half, 23-6.

Lily Kinder led Woodsville with 15 points. The Engineers visit Blue Mountain tonight.

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


Stub Fadden was the grandfather of former NASCAR Busch North champion Mike Olsen. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described how they were related.

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