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Conant boys advance to D-III title game

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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

  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant boys basketball team defeated Newport 65-42 in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

It was clear that this Conant team was not about to come up one step short.

Not again.

And with a 65-42 victory over third seed Newport in Tuesday night’s Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University, the No. 2 Orioles improved to 20-1 and cleared the last hurdle to reach the state finals and come within 32 minutes of their ultimate goal.

“We know what we need to do and we know we’ve got to get it done,” said senior Devin Springfield. “It’s nice to be put in that opportunity and we’re going to do out best to take it home.”

Winning a championship has been the one and only motivation for this group, especially after last year’s semifinal loss. It has been three years since Conant played in and won the last of its D-III record five straight championships. But the wait is over, as they take on No. 5 Campbell for the 2013 crown on Saturday at 3 p.m. at SNHU. Conant has won nine championships in school history.

“This team, from the beginning of the year, has had one goal,” said Conant coach Eric Saucier. “We’ve got one game left and we’ve got to find a way to win it.”

Unlike its quarterfinal contest against Somersworth, the Orioles got off to a fast start on Tuesday. They were up 7-0 before Newport really knew what hit them and it didn’t get any easier for the Tigers. With its typical in your face defensive pressure, especially with junior Robert O’Brien’s shadowing of Newport’s leading scorer sophomore Andrew Houde, Conant really took Newport out of its game early.

“We always try to get out to a good start and tonight we did and kept it going from there,” said O’Brien.

And when the defense is clicking for the Orioles, the offense is almost impossible to stop. They were getting to the basket with relative ease, scoring 14 of their 20 first quarter points on lay-ups, while forcing Newport to settle for long shots. With a 20-8 lead after the first, the Orioles looked ready to end the game early.

“We knew if we got to the hole and got to the free throw line we were going to win,” said Springfield.

Despite being a little jump shot happy in the second, Conant took a 32-21 lead at the half. A pair of free throws to start the third brought Newport to within nine, but that was as close as the Tigers would get. An 8-2 run pushed the lead to 15 and from there it never dipped below double digits.

“At half, I said we’ve got to attack the basket,” said Saucier. “In the second half, I thought we attacked the rim a lot more and we got away from the threes.”

Conant took a 50-35 advantage into the fourth, but got a scare in the opening minute when Springfield hit the floor hard after a lay-up attempt. After sitting out less than a minute, Springfield was back in time to help the Orioles finish off a 9-2 spurt that pushed the lead to 20.

“We’ve been working hard all year to get to where we are right now,” said O’Brien.

Springfield scored 26 points with eight rebounds, both game highs, and O’Brien added 14 and three blocks. Eli Hodgson had nine points and six rebounds and Kyle Carland chipped in eight with six boards. Jake Carlson, despite dealing with the stomach flu, played 28 minutes and scored on his only shot attempt to go along with six rebounds.

“I knew he’d tough it out,” said Saucier. “He’s a tough kid and he played good defense for us.”

Houde led Newport with 18 points, four below his season average, followed by Derek Pare’s 12, coming on 4-of-9 shooting from three.

The Orioles shot 54 percent for the game and 63 percent in the second half, giving them a 13th straight win.

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