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Engineers feel a draft in NHIAA semifinal loss

  • Woodsville's Corey Bemis (12) moves past Epping's Shawn Hill during the NHIAA Division IV semifinal game at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodsville's Billy Green looks for an opening to pass during the NHIAA Division IV semifinal game against Epping at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodsville head coach Jaime Walker talks to his team before the start of the NHIAA Division IV semifinal game against Epping at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, March 04, 2019

HOLDERNESS, N.H. — It was the one that got away from Woodsville High’s boys basketball team.

The track meet No. 4-seeded Woodsville was hoping for came to a screeching halt in the third quarter of Monday’s NHIAA Division IV semifinal match against top-seeded Epping. The Engineers never recovered, falling 50-45 at Plymouth State University’s Foley Gymnasium. Woodsville senior Billy Green led the way with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals. Patrick Reardon-Estes added eight points and 12 rebounds in the loss. The Engineers end their season at 16-5 overall.

Woodsville’s first trip to the D-IV final since 2007, and a chance for the program’s first title since 1977, will have to wait another year.

“I think we settled,” said Jamie Walker, Woodsville’s 19th-year head coach. “I think, in those last few possessions, kids settled for what was easy. We’re a young team. They start three or four seniors; we start one. We’re a bit younger than they are. Maybe this is a good learning experience for that.

“I think their seniors kind of took over in the end, especially their point guard (Hunter Bullock).”

Epping (20-1) will face No. 2 Littleton (19-2) in the D-IV championship game at Plymouth State on Friday. It is Epping’s first trip to the final since 2015; the Blue Devils have not won a D-IV title since 2014. Littleton’s last title was in 2016.

“I think they knew we could shoot; I don’t think they knew how well we could shoot,” Walker said. “They started to come out a little bit more and recognize our shooters in the second half. … We didn’t move enough toward the end.”

The Engineers were lights out in the first half. They shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first quarter, netted six 3-pointers before halftime and built a lead of 11 points early in the second quarter.

Green, who emerged as Woodsville’s go-to presence this season, scored seven points in the opening quarter, helping the Engineers take a 15-10 lead after eight minutes of play. Back-to-back 3s from Conner Maccini and Brendan Walker seconds apart to open the second stanza added to Woodsville’s lead.

“They hit a ton of shots,” Epping head coach Nick Fiset said of Woodsville’s first half. “It’s hard to beat a team that’s knocking down 3s like that.”

Epping answered with an offensive run of its own, including three 3s by Adam LePage before halftime. The Engineers still led, 31-25, at intermission.

Then Woodsville’s offense went cold. It managed only five points in the third quarter, three off of a 3-pointer by Green at the buzzer, and came out from the break shooting 2-of-13 from the floor. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, were able to retake momentum, scoring 12 points to take a 37-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

“Their zone slowed us down a little bit; we like to play up-tempo. It took us a while to get our feet settled,” Fiset said. “We’ve been in close games all year. That doesn’t bother us.”

The fourth quarter had five lead changes, including a six-point swing off of back-to-back steals and back-to-back 3s from Woodsville’s Green and Reardon-Estes that gave the Engineers a 45-41 lead with 3:11 remaining. Woodsville did not score again as the Blue Devils rallied for nine unanswered points in the final minutes — including two free throws in the dying seconds — to secure the win.

Bullock, Epping’s shifty point guard, led the way with a game-high 20 points. LePage added 16 for the Blue Devils.

Woodsville loses Green, Carson Baril and Noah Baril to graduation in the offseason. But Walker said he feels good about the group coming back — including four of his five starters — one year after a large graduation class forced the Engineers to start from scratch.

“We’ll certainly miss Billy (Green), but we’ve got four guys coming back who started,” Walker said. “They’ll help us next year.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.