(Dover NH) “When we’re poised on offense, we’re tough to defend,” said Portsmouth Christian coach Derek Summers post-game.
#5 PCA defeated #12 Sunapee, 66-44, in the Division IV preliminary round on Monday night.
The Lakers (9-10) got off to a nice, 9-5, lead but couldn’t hold it.
The Eagles (15-4) started hitting three’s when Sunapee zoned and found routes to the basket when the Lakers switched to man-to-man defense.
“They certainly have shooters and drivers,” said Sunapee coach Tim Puchtler afterwards.
“We played them a month ago and had trouble with their press,” he added. “We made adjustments and didn’t really have trouble against it today. Our problem was after we broke the press. We just couldn’t relax and play basketball. We did early in the game and we had a very good four or five minutes.”
Baskets by Nick Belisle (10 points), Jacob Stoughton, and Nick Pollari keyed the Lakers good, 9-5, start after three minutes.
The Eagles reacted with a timeout and came out of it with better rebounding. They also started to put up points against whatever defense Sunapee tried.
PCA reeled off ten straight points and took the lead for good in the process.
Consecutive three’s by Jason Stockbower (20 points) and Connor Hickey gave the Eagles the lead. Gavin Nagy (14 points) and Seth Huggard (14 points) followed with successful drives to the basket.
That run of points built the lead to 15-9. A second three by Jason Stockbower raised the margin to 25-15, 2 ½ minutes into the second quarter.
Jason had eleven points in that decisive second period.
The PCA lead was twelve (32-20) at halftime and was elevated to twenty (42-22) two minutes into the second half.
“We expected them to fight us pretty hard and they did,” said Jason Stockbower afterwards. “They switched up some looks on us from the first time we played them, so we had to make some adjustments.”
Andrew Claus (11 points) cut the Eagles lead to sixteen in the first minute of the final quarter but that was as close as the Lakers could get.
Coach Summers: “We wanted to get out and run and make sure we kept them off the glass. When we gave them second opportunities in the first half, we usually paid for it.”
Portsmouth Christian reached the D IV state finals last year and in 2016 and 2005. They are still chasing their first state basketball title.
“We’re a good team and we’re looking to go far in the tournament this time,” said Jason.
The Eagles have won eleven of their last twelve games. The higher seeds, however, are still alive in the tournament and several of them already have wins over PCA this season.
“Every tournament game will be a battle for sure,” said Coach Summers.
PCA 17 22 16 11 = 66
Sunapee 12 10 15 7 = 44
(The pictures will enlarge.)