(Durham NH) Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned.
And that was the way it was for Coach John Fisher’s Bishop Guertin team versus Winnacunnet tonight.
But on this night, Coach Fisher was the one with the smile on his face afterwards saying, “I feel blessed to have had this moment.”
The Cardinals (18-5) took the Division 1 title, 42-35, over Winnacunnet on Saturday night at Oyster River in Durham.
“We wanted to speed things up,” said Coach Fisher.
“We knew they were big,” said Nate Kane (11 points), “so we tried to full-court press them.”
Speed things up. Get some easy baskets. Stay away from defensive half-court situations. Good intentions, but that’s now how it went. Fast breaks were rare, but the Cardinals half-court defense was exceptional.
“They’re athletic and long,” said Winnacunnet coach Jay McKenna post-game. “They put a lot of pressure on us in the half-court.”
So while the Cardinals didn’t score a lot of points, they made up for it with great defense.
“We were scraping and dominating the boards even though they were a bigger team,” added senior Nate Kane.
The other thing that didn’t go as BG hoped, but still worked in their favor, was free throws.
“We knew that they have been good at free throw shooting, so we were trying not to foul them,” recalled Coach Fisher.
But foul they did, sending Winnacunnet to the foul line twenty-four times.
The Warriors made only ten of twenty-four attempts! Two of those misses were on the front end of one-and-one’s.
The Cardinals were 10-of-14 from the line.
A big difference? You bet.
“Our free throw shooting has been good this season and has won us a bunch of games,” said Coach McKenna.
“In fact, we’ve worked on free throw shooting with this group more than any other one we’ve had,” Coach McKenna added.
“We even shot a lot of free throws this morning,” he added. “Some nights you make them and some nights you don’t.”
So on this night, BG didn’t want to foul but did, and it worked to their advantage.
Not the way BG coach John Fisher planned it……..but I’m sure he’s happy with the unplanned ways things worked out.
This was a one-possession game (26-25) one minute into the final quarter after a Joseph Allen layup set up by Brett Marelli.
The game got away from Winnacunnet in the next five minutes.
While the Warriors had only one free throw (five attempts) the Cardinals put ten points together and came away up ten (36-26) with two minutes left. Winnacunnet didn’t have time to recover.
During the crucial BG segment, John Sullivan hit a fallaway jump shot in the lane and went in on a successful layin assisted by Nate Kane.
Matt Santosuosso scored on a drive and pairs of free throws (Jordan Robichaud & Dylan Santosuosso) extended the lead to ten points.
“You have to be able to make free throws at the end of games and we did,” added Nate Kane.
Junior Sam Andreottola paced the Warriors with twelve points. Senior Brett Marelli (WPI commit) added ten.
Senior Dylan Santosuosso (Colby-Sawyer commit) was Bishop Guertin’s top scorer with twelve points.
Consecutive three’s by Nate Kane and Dylan Santosuosso gave the Cardinals a 10-5 lead early in the second quarter.
Later in that quarter a Brett Marelli rebound basket tied the score at 13-13.
The next nine points belonged to BG. Two of the points came on an end-of-the-half, buzzer-beating rebound score by Matt Santosousso after a 3-point miss by his brother Dylan.
The Warriors cut into that eight-point deficit (22-13) in the third quarter and were in a one-possession game (26-23) after three.
Joseph Burns early layup in the 4th quarter put Winnacunnet within one point but Bishop Guertin pulled away the rest of the way to gain the D1 title.
Coach Fisher: “We wanted to do a good job on defense and make them work on every possession.”
Dylan Santosuosso: “This is all very exciting. The game had runs, up’s and down’s. We got into foul trouble early in the third quarter and I thought it might affect us in the long run. Thankfully, it didn’t.”
Matt Santosuosso: “We played strong. We played solid. It feels great. It’s amazing.”
Nate Kane: “We knew they were good after they upset Exeter early in the tournament.”
Coach McKenna: “There is an awful lot of disappointment among the kids right now. We’re exceptionally proud of the effort they put in tonight. We had a tough time making shots. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
Noisiest game I’ve been to this season. In most games, you can hear every coaches’ word during timeouts. The benches, for both teams, were very active.
The lighting at Oyster River was excellent. I won’t be able to use the “lighting” excuse for mediocre pictures this time.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)
The link to this coverage will be on Twitter (@mcclellandpeter) and later pictures will be up on Instagram (@mcclellandmiscellanea).