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Basketball: Skilled, steady Cougars devour Knights; new Mascenic coach gets big win

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Kingswood on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/11/2020 1:12:01 AM

The ravenous Cougars made a meal of the visiting Kingswood Knights on Friday, and if they continue building on the momentum they carried over from last season, Division II could be a buffet. 

“We were very hungry after our semifinal loss last year,” said senior captain Connor Buffum after Friday’s 84-59 win, “and we had to really prove something this year, because other teams were looking at us saying ‘Obviously this team’s going to be good again this year.’ We had to come out and show that it wasn’t a fluke last year, it wasn’t that 17-1 just randomly happened, so everyone’s really hungry to get out there and really try proving our name as a school.”

ConVal improved to 4-0 on the year with the win, focusing their defensive efforts on neutralizing one half of Kingswood’s potent scoring duo of Brogan Shannon and Ethan Arnold, who each came into Friday’s game averaging 24.3 ppg. 

“[Shannon] is one of the best guards I’ve seen in Division II,” said ConVal head coach Leo Gershgorin. “Might be the best guard we’ll see. He’s just super quick, and [Arnold] just finds a way….Our goal was to take one of them away.”

Shannon got his, scoring a team-high 19 and going 8-8 from the charity stripe, but the Cougars held  Arnold to just seven points.

“That was the goal,” Gershgorin said, “and we were going to dare the rest of the team to score the rest of the points that he would have had.”

ConVal’s still a defense-driven team, but this year, holding opponents in the 30s, as they did in the opener at Merrimack Valley or in the Christmas tourney against Conant, might be the exception rather than the rule.  

“This year, we’re changing a little bit,” Gershgorin said. “We’ve got guys that can score the basketball. It’s that happy medium. You want to play good strong defense but when you’re putting up 80 points...59 to Kingswood, to us, that’s like holding most teams to low 40s, mid 40s, because that team can score. That’s a great offensive team.”

The difference-maker in Friday’s action was ConVal senior captain Mather Kipka, who’s put it all together in his final year and had it on display against the Knights, dropping a game- and season-high 35 points with a trio of threes and an array of spins and strides to the basket. 

“Part of why our identity is the way it is is because of him,” Gershgorin said. “He just works hard. He’s deserving of it, he’s earned it, hopefully we can build off that.”

Seemingly everyone on ConVal has found their game already in the early season, the product of another year-round basketball schedule with offseason tournaments and summer runs. 

“We play year round together which has helped us come together and create chemistry as a team,” Buffum said. “[Gershgorin] has helped us become the players we’ve come to be.”

Buffum knew he had big shoes to fill this season to replace Ben Henry and Max Richard’s duties as the primary ball-handlers, and he, along with junior captain Wyatt Davis, have stepped up admirably. Davis’ confidence and demeanor make him a prime fit for captaincy and a dependable point guard, and Buffum has transformed from a three-point marksman to an all-around player who can drive to the basket for two and defend just about anybody. 

“I knew that I had to take Max and Ben’s role of taking control of the ball and not just be a three-point shooter,” Buffum said. 

The Cougars are versatile as ever, dangerous from deep up and down the lineup. Six different players hit three-pointers for ConVal Friday night; Davis had 13 points, Taylor Burgess had 11 and Buffum had 10 as the Cougars kept rolling. Gershgorin called his boys “skilled and steady.”

“We talk about that in every practice, we talk about it in games,” Gershgorin said. “We’ve got guys who can play basketball, that can score the basketball, that can defend, that can do all those things, and they’re just steady. I feel like they don’t need motivation..They’re going to come out and they’re going to do their thing, it’s beautiful.”

The Cougars move into a tie for first place in DII with undefeated Hanover. Now, it’s a matter of staying hungry. 

“Everyone is going to come at us and play their best every time they see us,” Kipka said, “so I think it’s really good that we’ve been able to come out and find a little bit of consistency, we’ve really found our footing here four games in. And we’re matching up with people, we’re meeting their intensity, and I think that’s really good for us to do.”

ConVal (4-0) is at Hollis-Brookline (2-2) Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

Langlois steps down at Mascenic, Kear steps up

Mascenic head coach John Langlois abruptly resigned from his position Wednesday, four games into the winter season.

Neither Langlois nor athletic director Kevin Rines were willing or able to discuss the specifics behind the resignation on the record.

“I shook every player’s hand and I hope that they win a state championship this year and I wish them the best,” Langlois said Friday morning.

Langlois finished with a 17-6 record at Mascenic.

The Vikings turned to Brandon Kear to take over head coaching duties, effective Thursday. Kear won four straight Class M championships as a player for Conant in the late 2000s and spent several years as an assistant to Eric Saucier, including the 2014 championship season.

Kear couldn’t have gotten off to a better start than he did Friday night, when the Vikings traveled to last year’s runners-up Somersworth and shocked the Hilltoppers with a 77-69 win. 

Sam Stauffeneker scored a game-high 28 points, 19 in the second half; Trey Shaw scored 16, as did Dylan Vaillancourt, who hit a huge three in the fourth to make the Viking lead insurmountable. 

Mascenic (4-1) head to Kear’s alma mater Conant to take on the Orioles Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.​​​​​​

Conant 37,
Mascoma Valley 32

Senior Connor Hart spearheaded the Orioles on defense as Conant won on the road at Mascoma Friday night. 

“Defense won this game,” said head coach Eric Saucier.

Hart had nine rebounds and took two charges; Anthony Gauthier kept up his torrid scoring pace with 20 points in another low-scoring Oriole affair. 

Conant (4-1) hosts Mascenic Tuesday. 

 

Moultonborough 65, Wilton-Lyndeborough 53

A tough Panther team with ten seniors took a win in Wilton Friday, despite Jack Schwab’s team-high 21 points. 

“They were smarter with the ball than us,” said WLC head coach Malin Segal.

JJ Leblanc had a season-high 16 and Kyler Tremblay added eight.

WLC (2-3) has dropped three straight and looks to right the ship Tuesday at Hinsdale (1-6).

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

ConVal 40, Kingswood 29

ConVal’s lone senior Emma Hixson is most often found cracking a smile or just plain cracking up, but the four-year varsity player and two-time captain has had to be stern this season while taking over as the true team leader. 

“There’s a lot of pressure having to lead the team and having the girls look up to me,” Hixson said after Friday’s game against Kingswood. Pregame, Hixson hustled her young wards through a team photo session and get them on the court. After the tip, she continued to lead, scoring a game-high 14 as the Cougars dispatched the Knights 40-29.

“We want to be able to get that lead, pull it out and walk away with the win,” Hixson said. 

Freshman Morgan Bemont added nine points in the game and Emily Donovan had six. 

The Cougars executed Friday night and showed marked improvement not just since the beginning of the season, but even since Monday’s loss at Souhegan. Now, ConVal’s 3-2 and looking like a potential playoff team, but Hixson said building something together as a team is just as important as the wins and losses. 

“Honestly, when we talked about team goals for the season, very few of them were numerical, make playoffs, win these games,” Hixson said. “It was more like ‘play for each other.’ We want to build chemistry. Obviously we want to win games but it’s more about building chemistry and improving.”

ConVal hosts Hollis-Brookline (5-0) Tuesday. 

Conant 65,
Mascoma Valley 15

The Orioles remain undefeated atop Division III after blowing out the Royals by 50 on Friday night. Conant has outscored opponents 133-32 in their past two games; the 15 points scored by Mascoma Friday is the lowest total for an Oriole opponent since they held Somersworth to 13 last January. 

“We’ve really been committed to defending the ball this season,” said head coach Brian Troy. “The girls have been working hard day in and day out.”

Teagan Kirby had a game-high 12 points to lead Conant; Silas Bernier scored 11; Elizabeth Gonyea scored 10 and Mylie Aho and Emma Tenters had eight apiece. 

Conant (8-0) is at Newport (1-4) Tuesday and then hosts Hopkinton (6-2) Friday night. The Hawks started out 6-0 before losing to Conant Monday and then again to Fall Mountain Friday. 

Mascenic 40, LinWood 31

The Vikings improved to 5-2 – tied for fifth in a crowded Division IV – by beating LinWood on the road Friday night, 40-31. 

Senior Shelby Babin scored a team-high 12 points; Annika Martel and Lexi Vautour had eight each and Alannah Johnson scored 7.

Mascenic hosts Epping (3-5) next Friday. 




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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