Tears, milestones, fundraising and – oh yeah, basketball – at Conant’s Hoops for Hope

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant hosted the tenth annual Hoops for Hope basketball games on Saturday Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Peyton Springfield of Conant scored his 1,000th career point on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Peyton Springfield of Conant scored his 1,000th career point on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/3/2019 12:09:54 AM

Three wins, 1,000 points and 4,000 dollars. The Conant Orioles stacked up the numbers at the Hoops for Hope basketball tripleheader Saturday, where those in attendance left with a singular lesson – make every second count. 

The Pratt Auditorium was packed to capacity with a sea of color, fans from Conant and Monadnock sporting the shirts in shades representing the particular type of cancer that had affected them. It’s not a matter of if, but when and who in the crowd had been touched by cancer in one way or another, and the same was true of the players and coaches. 

“This has been a personal thing for me every year,” said Conant senior Delaney Beaven

Beaven, a four-year Oriole, felt the sting of losing team mom Michele Chadbourne who succumbed to cancer in 2017; and, Beaven’s grandmother Suzanne O’Brien battled cancer and was the featured speaker at Hoops for Hope 2015. 

“I can definitely say that I get my fight from her today,” Beaven said.

Beaven and the Orioles put up quite a fight against the No. 1 Monadnock Husky girls on Saturday in what’s been a slugfest of a series in recent years. The Huskies beat Conant in the championship two years ago; the Orioles knocked Monadnock out at SNHU last year, and in December, the Huskies won the first game between the two this season, 53-43.

Since then, Conant hadn’t lost a game coming into Saturday, winning nine in a row; Monadnock dropped just one game, to Fall Mountain, and sat atop Division III at 12-1. Saturday was a marquee matchup, but the Orioles were up to the task.

Senior Mariah Chamberlain (22 points, 10 rebounds) scored 16 points in the first half, and sophomore Elizabeth Gonyea (24 points, 10 rebounds) had eight in the first quarter, and Conant’s defense stifled the Huskies, staking the Orioles to a 26-19 lead at the half.

“I thought our energy from first quarter all the way through was fantastic,” said Oriole head coach Brian Troy. “We did foul a little too much, we were overaggressive at times, but I thought for the most part they played well together, they really stuck to the scout perfectly … We know how dangerous [Caitlyn] Boucher and [Gwen] Simpson and Colby [Sanders] are together. We wanted to do a good job going into this game containing them a little bit and I though we did. I was very happy.”

Conant held that trio to 13 in the first half, and the second was more of the same, as the Orioles tightened their grip and increased their lead to 20. The Huskies managed 33 free throws, but made only 17, while the Orioles went 9-9 from the line and continued to play stellar defense. Beaven, in particular, was inspired on D.

“Today when I was on the court, I was tired, and I was on Boucher, I was like ‘I gotta do this for my mémère,’” Beaven said. “She pushed through the hardest thing I could ever imagine. She’s definitely a role model for me.”

Boucher finished with a team-high 14, and Simpson had 13, but Conant cruised to a 59-43 win, their tenth in a row. Beaven credited improved team chemistry due to season-long bonding for their win.

“We just weren’t as close as we had been in past years,” Beaven said, “so we’ve been working on teamwork, and I think that’s why we took the dub today, because we worked together and pulled through.”

Monadnock and Conant are now tied for No. 2 in DIII at 12-2, both behind Fall Mountain (13-2); the Wildcats are the only team to have beaten the Orioles and Huskies.

Conant is at Hopkinton (10-4) Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Quest for 1,000

Peyton Springfield came into Saturday’s game with 996 career points, on the verge of a milestone after coming up short in Thursday’s loss at Somersworth. He’d missed a slew of free throws in the game; making them could have put his team over the top and gotten him to 1,000, and he was looking for some vengeance on both accounts against Monadnock.

He’d achieve the first eight-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter, hitting a mid-range J from the right elbow for his fourth point of the game and 1,000th at Conant. Springfield was mobbed by his teammates and then posed for a picture at halfcourt before play resumed. After the game, Springfield said he’d never really considered that he’d become a thousand-point scorer, despite the fact that his dad Dave, brother Devin and sisters Brooke and Maddy had all done the same.

“I didn’t have that mentality,” Springfield said. “When my siblings did it, I was just happy for them. It didn’t cross my mind.”

Springfield’s averaging just about 20 points per game, fourth in Division III (after a 41-point explosion at Gilford Friday, Mascenic’s Sam Stauffeneker is first at 22.9). That pace has earned him a place in the rafters at the Pratt, the first boys’ player to score 1,000 as a junior at Conant.

“Hard work, dedication, teammates, it takes everything,” said head coach Eric Saucier, who’s now coached four thousand-point scorers in Jimmy Peard, Kyle Todd and the Springfields. “It’s everything put together, the individual time you put in and the work you do with your teammates.”

Springfield, too, credited his teammates for their own hard work to get him in position for history.

“I would not come even close without them,” he said.

Back to the game, the Orioles had to face reality – the thousandth point had been scored, but Conant was down, as Monadnock’s Jake Kidney was shooting the lights out early. Kidney hit four threes in the first quarter and the Huskies were up 16-10 after one.

As always, Conant came roaring back. Seniors Jake Drew (14 points) and Gavin Motuzas (10 points) picked up the scoring in the second quarter, cutting the Monadnock lead to one. Springfield hit another jumper to give Conant their first lead at 26-25, and the Orioles would not trail again.

Kidney finished with a team-high 15 points but was held scoreless in the second half as Conant pulled out to a ten-point lead and held the Huskies at bay. A Kevin Putnam three brought Monadnock within five, but Springfield immediately pulled up on the ensuing possession for a three of his own and stuck a dagger in the Huskies.

“My teammates were like, ‘Peyton, we’ve got to put our trust in you,’” Springfield said. “‘You do a lot for us, we’re going to do a lot for you. If you’re not scoring, we’re going to help you score.’”

Drew absorbed an onslaught of hard fouls down the stretch and kept rolling and Conant held on for a 59-47 win.

Springfield finished with 26; Drew had 14 and Gavin Motuzas 10.

Conant’s now 10-3 and tied for third in Division III with White Mountains, who ousted the Orioles in the first round last year – something Springfield and his teammates are working to prevent from happening again.

“Obviously our goal is to make it the championship,” Springfield said. “We got bounced in the first round last year. It would be great to see improvement – to make it to SNHU is basically the main goal. I’ve never been there once in my life and that would be great.”

It was a special night for Springfield, who said it was an honor to play in the Hoops for Hope game after attending every one of them for the past ten years. During the Stand Up ceremony, players and fans wrote the name of a person they knew who had been affected by cancer, and Springfield chose Samantha Dubois, the Rindge teenager who famously battled leukemia and has been thriving since.

“She went through a tough battle,” Springfield said. “I can’t imagine going through cancer. I don’t know what I would do with my life. That’s the strongest thing you could do – fight cancer, go on, go to college right after and live your normal life. Props to her, 100 percent.”

This was the first time that Conant and Monadnock were paired for Hoops for Hope and the attendance was maxed out. The stands were packed in the day’s opening contest, pitting Conant’s unified team with an all-star team of Oriole unified alumni.

“It kind of threw a few of our players off our game,” said coach Ben Wheeler, “looking around like ‘there are a lot of people here!’”

Ben and wife Ann are coaching the coed team, and under their instruction, each of the players, from Isabelle Tenters to Holly Tom to Madison Gleason to Wyatt Anderson to Mike Roberge, got buckets on Saturday.

“It’s just a special day overall,” Ann said. “It feels good to have so many people out there supporting the teams as well as the cause.”

At last count, at least $4,000 was raised at the event, which will all go to local families who are affected by cancer.

“We’ve lived here all our lives, and we’ve chosen to, and this is one of the reasons, it’s a great community,” Ben said.

At halftime of the boys’ game, former Monadnock coach Ken Ervin, who lost his wife Liz to cancer in September, gave an emotional speech. The two met at Franklin Pierce, married at Cathedral of the Pines and were living in Maine with five kids when Liz found a lump while breastfeeding. She fought for nearly three years before dying in September, and the pain was evident as Ervin spoke. He recalled a moment when his daughter, Tori, made a poignant comment on a car ride.

“Every second of your life is time,” Ervin reflected.

Days like Saturday make it easier to focus on what really counts.


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