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ConVal, Souhegan put on a show for Gus

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Souhegan for the Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal’s Kalli Taylor guards Souhegan’s Mia Len during the girls' basketball Hope For Gus game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 05, 2018

Gus Dreher got a pretty good show on Saturday. The Peterborough middle-schooler is the famous face of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare, degenerative disease that Gus and just a few hundred other boys are living with. At Saturday’s annual Hope For Gus basketball fundraiser, the ConVal girls gave him a game to remember with a big overtime win against rival Souhegan.

“Obviously we wanted to play a good game against Souhegan, but we also wanted it to be about Gus,” said ConVal junior forward Rachyl Parslow.

The Cougars and Sabers are intertwined by geography and rivalry, and no one knows that better than ConVal head coach Kevin Proctor. Proctor teaches at Souhegan with Gus’s father, Steve, and the Hope For Gus games were heavy on his mind all week leading up to Saturday’s contest, as he tried to impart the importance to his team.

“We talked about time,” Proctor said. “We all have a certain finite time that we get to be here. Some of us are really fortunate. Gus’s family, they’re racing time. Every second, every ounce of what they give every day is to try to find a cure for their son.

“I just asked them to not waste the time that they have to appreciate it and to squeeze every ounce out of it that they can, and that’s exactly what they did.”

The Cougars had already dropped a contest with Souhegan earlier in the season, and they knew they’d have their hands full with the Sabers in the rematch.

“The last time we played them, it was a little bit rough,” Parslow said. “But we knew that we have improved a lot as a team, mentally and physically, so we knew that we could definitely meet them competitively, it’s just our mindset had to be where it had to be.”

The main focus for ConVal defensively had to be senior guard Mia Len, who’d notched her 1,000th career point the week before and provides the Sabers with the bulk of their scoring and playmaking. Proctor’s seen plenty of Len, too, as her advisor at Souhegan for years.

“Mia plays the game at a different level,” Proctor said. “Our goal was to disrupt their rhythm in any way. We knew we weren’t going to be able to keep her from scoring, we just didn’t want them to run what they are able to run when she’s the head of the ship.”

Early on, it seemed like Len was in control. ConVal guard Kalbie Grassett picked up three first-half fouls as she and Sarah Dauphinais tried to slow Len’s aggressive attack. Between Len (game-high 27 points, 10-19 FT) and Elizabeth Greenwood (seven points, five in the first quarter), Souhegan got off to a good start, taking a 22-17 lead into the half. But Parslow and the girls weren’t intimidated.

“I just knew that if we stuck together as a team, didn’t let them in our heads and didn’t let the officials get to us, then we could pull through and stick it out through the game and not roll over,” Parslow said. “I think we played really well as a team.”

The Cougars hung in there and found themselves down just two with under a minute to go, when Emma Hixson (six points) put in a layup to tie the score at 37. ConVal got the ball back and had a shot to finish it in regulation. Natalia Hautanen got up a contested jumper, which missed; Lindsey Carey got the rebound and put it back up among a sea of Sabers. That shot missed too, leaving Carey hopping mad as she was looking for a foul. None were forthcoming and the two teams went to overtime, all knotted up.

In the extra frame, ConVal started losing its stars, one by one. First, Hixson fouled out, then Dauphinais, and then Carey, who exited with a team-high 19. Parslow was the most seasoned Cougar left standing, and she was up to the task.

“ I was really proud of Parslow stepping up,” said Proctor.

The feisty junior forward took over ball-handling duties and protected the rock while scoring seven of her 18 points in the extra period. Len did her damnedest, but ConVal kept ahead, and won it 50-46.

“I think they were playing for something a little bit bigger than the game today,” Proctor said, “so I think that made a big difference.”

Indeed, Parslow said the team was inspired by Gus’s struggle as they went out and beat their rivals, focusing on making the most of every single day they have, where others aren’t so lucky.

“[Gus] might not have every single day,” Parslow said. “Don't give up or get frustrated, be thankful for every minute you have.”

“I'm glad he had a good game to watch.”

ConVal (5-8) has already eclipsed their win total from last season with five games remaining. Next up is a home game against Stevens (5-7) Friday at 6 p.m. ConVal beat Stevens 40-26 in January.

The ConVal boys didn’t fare quite as well in their tilt with Souhegan Saturday, as the Sabers won it 51-36. Del Bonsu-Anane led ConVal with 13. Several players were unavailable for ConVal with illness.

The Cougars (4-6) look to avenge their early season loss to Stevens (7-6) when they travel to Claremont Thursday night at 7 p.m.