Boys’ basketball: ConVal takes No. 1 in Division II after beating Souhegan in overtime

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal’s Mather Kipka avoids Souhegan’s Matt McCool for an overtime assist to Max Richard on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' basketball team hosted Souhegan in the annual Hope for Gus game Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/6/2019 12:54:06 PM

The ConVal boys’ basketball team grabbed the signature win of their season to date by beating longtime rival Souhegan in an overtime thriller in front of a packed house Tuesday night. 

The Cougars came into Tuesday’s game at 10-1, already sporting their best record since 2001 and tied for first in Division II. The Sabers were 8-3, strong, and excited, with their student section and band out in full force in ConVal’s gym in honor of Peterborough’s Gus Dreher and the annual Hope for Gus fundraiser for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“We knew this was going to be playoff atmosphere-esque,” said ConVal head coach Leo Gershgorin, “because we knew Souhegan was going to bring people – it’s Hope for Gus, the two communities, it was awesome.”

Souhegan – helmed by former ConVal head coach Peter Pierce – came out in a 3-2 zone topped by lanky 6’6” sophomore Matt McCool. It’s a tough front to attack head-on and can be difficult on wing three-point shooters, but when you come out as hot as ConVal’s Max Richard, it doesn’t matter what’s in front of you. Richard buried a trio of three-pointers right out of the gate as ConVal jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the opening minutes. 

“That man was on a mission,” Gershgorin said. “He was on a mission. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen   that look in his eyes.”

Souhegan pushed their defensive front out to challenge the perimeter shot, but it didn’t slow Richard, who would hit another three and finish the quarter with 14 points, giving ConVal a 17-10 lead after one.

“Max was the difference in the game,” Pierce said. “That’s a lesson where it doesn’t have to be at the end of the game. It’s all at the beginning of the game. Max comes out and makes a big splash and we’re now scrambling to catch up, which we did, but it takes a lot of juice.”

Souhegan turned up the defense and staunched the Cougar torrent, holding ConVal to 12 in the second and cutting the lead to 29-25 at the half. 

“I think they decided to dig in,” Pierce said. “It was more mental than it was physical.”

At the half, senior Manny Bowman whipped his ConVal teammates into shape with some rousing words, Gershgorin said.

“Manny says ‘We didn’t drive all those hours to Andover in the summer, we didn’t drive all those hours to Nashua to lose games like this. Let’s go.’ That’s the type of leadership we’ve been waiting for all year.”

The second half featured inspired play as both teams tried to find victory through sheer force of will. ConVal maintained a slight lead throughout, ballooning it to six before Souhegan cut it back to one, and back and forth and back again.

Taylor Burgess hit a couple big jumpers in the second half to keep ConVal ahead; Ben Henry grabbed an offensive rebound, got fouled on the putback and converted the and-one bucket with a roar, and the Cougars had a chance to put it away in regulation, up 43-37. That’s when McCool reared his head.

“He’s a great player,” said ConVal junior big man Mather Kipka. “We knew he was going to get his points. I was just doing my best to not let him get the ball and if he did, just play him straight up, do the best I can.”

McCool got eight of his team-high 22 in the fourth quarter, edging the Sabers back into the game, and with under a minute to go, he’d loft one up one-handed from the right side, off the glass and into the hoop for two and a 47-all tie game.

“He hit some great shots,” Kipka said. “Especially that one to send it to overtime, that was a great shot.”

Souhegan scored first in the overtime period, putting the Cougars on their heels playing comeback for the first time all game. ConVal was up to the task. Kipka drove baseline and found Richard in the lane with a wraparound pass to tie it at 49. Souhegan scored, but Bowman tied it up at 51 with two free throws. Jeff Boehm (17 points) went 1-2 at the line for Souhegan and the door was open for ConVal, down one. It was time for Kipka to shine. Gershgorin called timeout and told him: if you can draw McCool up high and get a step on him, do what you do. 

“The thing about Mather is he never wavers,” Gershgorin said. “Whether he’s playing great, whether he’s struggling, whether I’m screaming at him to do something, whether I’m not saying anything to him, he never wavers.”

Connor Buffum penetrated, drew some defenders, bought a little space for Kipka and got him the ball. Kipka beat McCool and took it to Jeff Kieswetter in the paint, where Kipka fought through a foul and muscled the ball into the hoop to give ConVal the lead.

Kipka missed the free throw, but Curtis Redd missed the front end of a one-and-one on the other end; ConVal got the board and found a wide-open Wyatt Davis streaking to the hoop to put ConVal up for good. The Cougars won it, 56-52.

“It’s really good for us to have a test against a really good team like this,” Kipka said. “It was down to the wire, back and forth a lot, especially in that overtime. It’s a really good mental test for our team against another really good team and I’m glad we came out on top…It felt like we worked really hard and this is a culmination of everything we’ve been working on for the last year and a half.”

Kipka finished with 13 points. Ben Henry added seven. 

ConVal stays tied with Pembroke for first place in Division II at 11-1, in stark contrast with most Cougar teams of the past two decades. The last ConVal team to win more than eight games in a season was the 2000-01 team, which went 12-6. Since then, ConVal’s gone 63-248 up until this season. Pierce, who had a 6-30 record at ConVal in his two seasons as head coach from 2011-13, had praise for the Cougars’ new direction.

“It’s a function of commitment,” Pierce said. “[Gershgorin] is doing a great job. [Gershgorin] is able to focus not just the players but the support people for the players, the parents, everybody else on what needs to be done. That was the missing element, that level of commitment is what was missing. He’s managed to do it and I’m happy for him.”

ConVal has Stevens (0-12) at home Friday night at 6:30 p.m., and don’t let the record fool you – the Cardinals swept the Cougars last season, and ConVal hasn’t forgotten.

 

Mascenic 61, Hopkinton 55 / Mascenic 80, Hillsboro-Deering 62

The Vikings are back up near the top of the heap in Division III after a big overtime win at Gilford Friday, another road win at Hopkinton  Monday night and a blowout of Hillsboro-Deering on Tuesday. Mascenic is now on a six-game win streak since their loss to Conant.

Sam Stauffeneker, who lit up Gilford for 41 on Friday night, scored another 20 against Hopkinton Monday, where Trey Shaw and Gabe Turner added 15 each. Stauffeneker scored another 28 points on Tuesday and now has 978 for his career. TJ Hiott had 15 points on Tuesday and Zack Barthel had 14.

The Vikings (10-3) are in fifth place in DIII,  just behind the Orioles, who are also 10-3 but hold the tiebreaker over Mascenic. 

The Vikings host Winnisquam Friday at 7 p.m.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, your source for Peterborough area news.


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2019 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy