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Conant boys grab tournament victory

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Coe-Brown 74-42 to win the Red Division title at the Zero Gravity Holiday Tournament at Keene State College on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

Over the last decade you probably won’t find a more successful high school boys basketball program in the state than Conant.

The Orioles won five straight state championships between 2006-10 and played in six title games overall. But during that stretch, Conant has not shared the same kind of success when it comes to the annual holiday tournament held at Keene State College. Typically the Orioles are the smallest school in the toughest division and it has not translated into many tournament titles.

Conant owns just one Red Division championship over the last decade-winning the whole thing in 2009 in the midst of the program’s last state title run-and two tournament crowns overall. Last year, the Orioles fell in the championship game to Division II Lebanon by just two points.

But despite the limited number of holiday titles, Conant enjoys playing in the tougher division-especially this year. With a regular season schedule that includes only a few difficult match-ups, any good competition is welcomed.

“I always like the competition here. It’s always good and it’s good to see new teams,” said coach Eric Saucier.

And while the Orioles did not have a very difficult time on their way to winning the Red Division title this year, the experience is exactly what they were looking for. Conant played a pair of higher division teams from within the state and picked up another victory due to a weather related forfeit.

In the championship game on Sunday, the Orioles cruised to a 74-42 win over Coe-Brown, a Division II team, and won the yearly first round match-up with D-I Keene by a score of 79-63.

“It’s good for motivation going into the next few games knowing we won the championship and we can hang with other divisions,” said junior Robert O’Brien. “We just came here to play hard and try to win.”

After defeating Keene on Friday, the Orioles were supposed to play Lebanon in a rematch of last year’s championship game, but Saturday’s snowstorm prevented the Red Raiders from making the almost two-hour trip to Keene.

So by virtue of the forfeit, Conant marched into the title game. And outside of a short stretch between the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, Conant dominated its way to the win. It was 6-0 to start the game and 16-4 midway through the first.

But Coe-Brown got back into it with a 12-3 run that made it just a three-point Conant advantage after eight minutes.

“We got up early and then we sort of relaxed a bit and let them right back into it,” said senior Devin Springfield.

The Bears tied the game on their first possession of the second and then took the lead for the first time, 21-19. The teams battled over the next few minutes until Conant once again proved its dominance.

Trailing 24-21, the Orioles found that swagger they played with to start the game.

Springfield drained a short baseline jumper and O’Brien followed with a three. From there, the Orioles were off to the races. Conant would score the next 11 points to turn a three-point deficit into a 37-24 advantage. The 22-point effort in the second gave the Orioles a 41-30 lead at the half.

“They just need to play hard for 32 minutes,” said Saucier. “If they play hard, the wins will take care of themselves.”

But while the double-digit difference was nice, nobody was happy with the defensive effort. Conant takes great pride in its play on that end of the floor and allowing that many points in a half is really unacceptable for a team with state championship aspirations.

The goal every game is to hold an opponent to 40 points or less and if the Orioles were going to come even close to that they would have to turn things around in a hurry after the break.

“Second half I’m happy with the defense. We just got lazy and at halftime I challenged them,” said Saucier. “You could see the difference. It was like night and day. Sometimes they’ve just got to be reminded.”

With the full court press working to perfection and the Bears missing the few shots they had, Conant turned the game into a one-sided affair.

Not only did the Orioles score 15 points in the third, but they held Coe-Brown to just two. They were less than 30 seconds away from keeping the Bears scoreless before a pair of free throws finally snapped Conant’s 13-0 run.

“If we can put that together for a whole game we’re going to be really tough to beat,” said Springfield.

The fourth was much of the same as the starters built up the lead to as many as 34 before giving way to the bench with about four minutes left.

Springfield, who earned MVP honors, finished with a game high 18 points to go along with six rebounds and five steals.

“For us to win this it’s a pretty good accomplishment, but this isn’t the championship we want. We want the championship at the end of the year,” said Springfield.

O’Brien, who landed on the Red Division all-tournament team, scored 17 points for the second straight game. Senior Jake Calson, the Stephen Record Memorial Sportsmanship Award recipient, and junior Kyle Carland each chipped in 10, while junior Eli Hodgson added eight.

The Orioles also mixed in a big piece to their bench with senior Josh Leblanc returning to the team. Leblanc, who scored six points versus Coe-Brown and pulled down 10 rebounds against Keene, joined the team late and needed to meet the practice requirements of Saucier before playing in a game.

“It was good to get Josh back in the rotation,” said Saucier. “He’s going to help us.”

Conant is 4-0 and returns to regular season action on Friday at Monadnock.

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