Category Archives: Souhegan

Souhegan defeats ConVal 53-51 in OT to capture DII title

Souhegan wins DII state title
Keegan Burke gave Souhegan the lead for good in OT with 2 free throws

(Durham NH) Souhegan ran away but couldn’t hide.

ConVal chased and chased finally catching the Sabers late in the third quarter.

Then the fun began!

“There were ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows after that,” said Souhegan coach Pete Pierce afterwards.

The Sabers came away with the DII title, 53-51, in overtime on Sunday afternoon at UNH.

“The difference was a couple of plays,” added Coach Pierce, “and luckily things went our way.”

Joe Gutwein (21 points)

The Cougars (18-4) had a two-point first quarter and trailed by as many as ten points in that quarter.

“ConVal is a great team, and we knew that they would go into a run,” said junior Joe Bernasconi post-game.

It took a while, but the Cougars finally tied things up (28-28) late in the third quarter after a three and a free throw from Malachi Page (11 points).

Joe Bernasconi and John McBride with the hardware

From that point on until the final thirty seconds of overtime this was a one-possession game.  Exciting and crowd pleasing?  You bet!

Three lead changes closed the third quarter while three lead changes and a tie score were the story of the fourth quarter.

The Cougar’s Joe Gutwein (21 points) put in the clutch free throws with a minute left to set up overtime.  Both teams had a possession after Joe’s free throws.  Terrific defense by Malachi Page stopped a Sabers’ drive and Austin Knight nearly ended the game with a half-court rim-out at the buzzer.

There were two more lead changes in the four-minute overtime. 

Owen Michaels

Keegan Burke’s two free throws with 1:24 remaining gave Souhegan (20-1) the lead for good. 

Key play ahead alert!  A rebound by John McBride (15 rebounds) led to an outlet pass to Nolan Colby.  Nolan looked up and saw teammate Joe Bernasconi cutting toward the basket on the other side. 

“Nolan picked his head up and gave me a perfect pass,” recalled Joe.  “He did all the work there.  I just had to make the layup.”

Joe Bernasconi layup in closing OT minute

And Joe did to put the Sabers up by three (49-46) in the last minute.

A steal by Nolan added a free-throw point and after another ConVal miss, Joe added two more freebies to extend the Souhegan lead to six points and seal the deal for the Sabers.

“This game could have gone either way,” said a disappointed Owen Michaels afterwards.  “It felt good when we came back in the fourth quarter.  I felt that we had momentum going into OT but we kind of fell apart as a team.”

Matt Canavan (19 points)

Matt Canavan (19 points) took a heavy fall in the fourth quarter on a drive to the basket.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen after that,” he told me.  “I just needed a few minutes to get it together and then knock down some free throws.”

“It was a fabulous game,” said Coach Pierce.  “It was high school basketball at its best.”

The title was Souhegan’s first since 2004.

Clutch defense by Malachi Page

“This has been my dream since middle school,” said Joe Bernasconi.  “I can’t even believe it right now.  We came through so many challenges this season.”

6-7” John McBride saw limited action because of foul trouble but still gathered fifteen rebounds.  “Those fouls are what I get for being the biggest guy on the court,” he said laughing.

“I’m just so proud of this team,” John added.  “I never thought I’d really be here.”

Matt Canavan: “We knew we should win, and we were confident coming into the game.  We made the plays when we had to.”

Owen McGwire (15 points and 7 rebounds)

Coach Pierce: “We held them in check for a while and then we couldn’t hold them to anything.  What a game!”

Great crowd at Lundholm Gym.  And there was plenty to cheer about for both sides.

The only loss for Souhegan was to Lebanon on January 24th.  The Sabers finished with a seven-game winning streak.

Souhegan   10   11    9   12   11   =   53

ConVal          2   15   17    8     9    =   51

Thanks to UNH’s Doug Poole for the game stats.

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Coach Pete Pierce
Family celebration
Souhegan student section
Souhegan celebrates
Joe Bernasconi at the line in OT
Austin Knight shoots at the end of regulation
Christian Buffum rebounds
Nolan Colby (12 points and 3 steals)
Joe Bernasconi
Austin Knight
Malachi Page
Christian Buffum
John McBride looks for someone to pass to
Joe Gutwein
Nolan Colby

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Souhegan narrowly escapes with a 49-48 win over Lebanon in the D2 semifinals

Jane White (23 points) was nothing but trouble for Lebanon

Moriah Morton (13 points) lines up a late free throw

(Manchester NH) Souhegan 49 Lebanon 48

Looking for a little excitement……this wasn’t the game for you.  Looking for a full dose of excitement….. this was the game to see!

Until Souhegan’s Ashley Tighe had the rebound in her hands after two near misses by Lebanon, and the buzzer went off, this game’s winner was undecided.

But the game ended with those Raider near misses on Monday night at Southern New Hampshire University and 2011 champs Souhegan (17-4) will now line up against #5 seed Kearsarge on Friday (7PM) and try to win another D2 title.

This was an extremely painful loss for the #2 seed, 19-4 Raiders.  They were riding an eight-game win streak and had defeated Souhegan during the regular season.

Heather King (14 points) gets to the hoop

Lebanon went down 10-1 in the first 4 ½ minutes but came all the way back to tie the score (26-26) two minutes into the second half.  Back down they went by eight (37-29) and back they came to tie the score (43-43) with 4 ½ minutes to play.

So you can see that the emotional roller coaster was operational for both teams.  And the ride hadn’t even reached the most exciting part!

There was a tie at 45 and then a Moriah Morton free throw gave Lebanon a 46-45 lead with 1:47 left.  Could the Raiders hold on? No, and if you want to blame one person, the Sabers Jane White (23 points) would be at the top of the list.

The All-Stater had gotten to the basket five previous times and you knew that down one she would try again……….and she did successfully and it put the Sabers in front, 47-46, with 1 ½ left.

Moriah Morton (13 points) made one of two free throws but the score was tied at 47 with 1:26 remaining.

Again back to the blame game.  Souhegan is in a tie game and they have the ball.  What will they do?  You guessed right.  Give the ball to Jane and get out of her way!  She was able to get into the lane, draw contact, and then sink both free throws (49-47) with 1:07 left.

Mickenzie Larivee (10 points) and Taylor Friedman (10 points)

Plenty of time for Lebanon to respond.  With thirty seconds to go Samantha McDonald was fouled by Victoria Forest (her 5th).  She made the first and missed the second (49-48).

The missed free throws (three in the last 1:47) were significant in a one-point loss.

Down by a point, the Raiders fouled Ashley Tighe with fifteen seconds left to face a pressure-packed one-and-one.  (The unfortunate part here for Lebanon was that Moriah Morton (13 points) did the fouling and it was her 5th.)  Ashley missed the front end and again Lebanon had time (fifteen seconds) and needed at least a point.

There was no timeout called….probably none left.  The Raiders passed the ball around the outside before Taylor Friedman (10 points) took a 15-foot jump shot from the left with less than five seconds left.  It missed but the rebound came directly to Colleen Taylor on the same side along the baseline.  Colleen’s quick shot hit the metal on the back of the rim and went off the other side into Ashley Tighe’s hands as the buzzer sounded.

I told you it was a very exciting game!

Jane White led all scorers with twenty-three points, including fifteen in the second half.  Included in those points was a shot from her knees in the lane in the third quarter that went in.  She had slipped down but had the good sense to shoot anyway and came up with a score.

Lebanon’s pressure defense was very good (eighteen steals) but Jane White was able to make enough plays for herself and her teammates (three assists) to carry the day.  If the Raiders had been able to entirely deny the Bentley-bound senior the ball more often things may have ended differently.

Colleen Taylor pressured by Ceara McNamara

While the team from Amherst had the ball in Jane White’s hands most of the time, Lebanon ran well organized patterns and had plenty of good looks.  Their scoring was balanced – Heather King (14), Moriah Morton (13), and Taylor Friedman (10).  Colleen Taylor (St. Joe’s next season) had a rare off night getting just five points but she did have nine rebounds.

An estimated crowd of 525 was on hand with both schools well represented.

This was the first NH girls’ game I have done this season.  Most of my coverage is in Massachusetts.  There is nothing quite like the excitement of a close do-or-die tournament game no matter where it is played.

Souhegan boxscore

Lebanon boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge significantly if you click on them.)

loose ball

Moriah Morton, Victoria Forrest, and Jane White

tight defense

Ashley Tighe (7 points) for two

Moriah Morton looks to get open

Lebanon coach Tim Kehoe

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