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Vikes snag big win

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic senior Drew Rines dribbles the baseline past Monadnock’s Joe Minson. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 5:54PM

A lesson for opponents around Division III: Don’t give Mascenic bulletin board material. The undefeated Vikings have perhaps not gotten the respect they deserve this season, with denigrates claiming Mascenic’s 6-0 start was the result of a soft schedule. Opposing fans and statewide pundits wanted to know: Aside from Conant, have the Vikings really beaten any tough teams?

Monadnock was the latest early season test of Mascenic’s mettle. At 7-2, they’re a cut above the Hillsboros and Raymonds of the world. And with senior star Joe Minson on the brink of 1,000 points, there was an electric, but uneasy, feeling in the air Tuesday night.

“I think it motivated my guys a little bit,” said Mascenic head coach Jay Starr. “These guys are a really tight group and they kind of rose up to the challenge here tonight.”

Early on, all eyes were on Minson, who needed 14 points to hit his milestone. He delivered, scoring 13 in the first and then knocking down the big one in the second quarter. “First half, to be honest, we came out a little helter skelter,” said Mascenic senior Drew Rines. “We didn’t really adjust to the environment right away like we planned on.”

The Vikings looked passive, settling for jumpers, missing layups and getting to the line for just five free throws. Mascenic trailed by as much as 12 and was down eight at the half. Then, the Vikings found their spark — energy guy TJ Hiott.

“We needed some size in there, I felt like we were getting beat up on the board a little bit, so I put TJ in,” said head coach Jay Starr.

Hiott entered the game in the third quarter and immediately made his presence felt. He grabbed every board in his vicinity, bullied the Monadnock big men, and got to the line a few times with a Eurostep and a McHale-like post move.

“We have guys putting up shots and busting their butts to get to the basket,” Hiott said. “If they miss and I give them a second chance, I know if they go back in, there’s a good chance they’re going to get it in the hoop next time.”

The Vikings fed off Hiott’s energy, and the one-two punch of Sammy Stauffeneker and Zack Barthel took over.

“That’s a pretty good duo,” Starr said. “We like to run a lot of pick and rolls with the both of them. They’ve been playing together for a long time, so it really showed out there in the third and fourth quarter.”

Barthel worked hard under the basket and came up with 19 points, 14 in the second half. Stauffeneker, meanwhile, showed why he is one of the best guards in the state, relentlessly attacking the hoop and scoring 14 of his game-high 21 in the second half.

“Sam really made a commitment to going to the basket and that was terrific what he did there,” Starr said.

The Huskies had no answer. Minson, who’d looked every bit the 1,000-point scorer in the first half, was invisible in the second, where he’d score just six points, blanketed by defender DJ Turner.

“I guess DJ really got in his head or something,” Rines said. “He just didn’t hit any shots coming down the line. He got in foul trouble and he just kind of scared away from the ball.”

Turner finished with 14 of his own.

Stauffeneker would hit back-to-back shots to put Mascenic up for the first time, 50-48, and from there, it was just a matter of holding on. The Vikings did so, winning 64-57 and improving to 7-0.

The Huskies marched off the court past a sign in the Mascenic fan section that read “Have we beaten anybody yet?” Starr called it a “statement win,” but acknowledged that it probably wouldn’t be enough to silence the doubters.

“I think we’ll need some more wins, for sure,” Starr said. “We’re early in the season, we still need some big wins to get to our goals, but this was a big win.”

Mascenic is now second in Division III behind 8-0 Somersworth, whose own star, Brighton Early, recorded his 1,000th point this week. The Vikings travel to Hillsboro-Deering (0-7) Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.