Basketball: Conant girls back in Final Four; ConVal, Mascenic and the Oriole boys all knocked out

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team traveled to Hillsboro-Deering for an NHIAA Division III playoff game on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' basketball team played at Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III tournament on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team played at Hillsboro-Deering on Wednesday for an NHIAA Division III tournament game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' basketball team traveled to Hopkinton for an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team hosted Lebanon for an NHIAA Division II tournament game on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/8/2021 5:09:55 PM

The 2020-21 NHIAA divisional tournaments began last week - and they’re nearly over. In normal times, the playoffs are staggered by division, with Division III and IV starting in late February and Division I and II on their heels, creating a lengthy March Madness situation culminating in multiple championship events. These aren’t normal times, of course, and this year all teams in all divisions started their tournaments last week. Of the local teams, only the Conant girls are left standing; to find out how they go to the semifinals and how Mascenic and ConVal fared, read on.

Division III Girls

Conant girls heading to semifinals, Mascenic out

The Conant girls’ basketball team is back in the semifinals after beating Monadnock and Hillsboro-Deering in the NHIAA Division III tournament last week. 

“Feels good to be back in the Final Four,” head coach Brian Troy said after Sunday’s 50-25 quarterfinal win over Hillsboro-Deering. “We took another step towards our ultimate goal, which is a state championship. It was great to see contributions from every player on the team tonight.”

Brynn Rautiola had 12 points to lead the Orioles and Elizabeth Gonyea had 11. Emily Howell had 12 for H-D and Zoe Kemp added 10.

The Orioles got there by beating Monadnock in Swanzey Thursday, 67-42.

Conant got a 25-point outburst from center Emma Tenters to go with a 16-point game from Gonyea and 11 points from Rautiola. 

Junior guard Grace LeClair had 14 for the Huskies, who have only one senior, forward Mackenzie Hopkins. 

Defending champion Conant (13-0) has won 34 games in a row dating back to their semifinal loss to Fall Mountain on Feb 27, 2019. The Orioles will play their semifinal game against Campbell (10-2) at Trinity High School Thursday at 7 p.m. Conant knocked the Cougars out in the quarterfinals last season. 

The other semifinal pits Newfound vs. Fall Mountain. 

The Mascenic girls did just about everything right in their Division III playoff game at Hillsboro-Deering Thursday night – everything, that is, except make baskets.

“I think we outplayed them in just about every aspect of the game except putting the ball in the basket,” first-year Viking head coach Troy Shaw said after the 36-21 Hillcat win. “Some nights, it goes like that. It’s just unfortunate when it goes like that in first round of playoffs.”

The Hillcats got a strong showing from the smash-and-dash combo of Kemp (17 points) and Howell (15 points), who accounted for 32 of H-D’s 36 points. The Vikings played solid defense, limited their turnovers and played with intensity, but their shots just wouldn’t fall.

“We were doing well, but it’s just a different atmosphere when you go away for a playoff game,” Shaw said. “And for a lot of these girls, it’s their first away playoff game. It’s tough, it’s a tough way to lose it.”

Skye Lambert scored a team-high 10 points but couldn’t get her floaters to fall. Hannah Zina (six points) provided a spark in the second quarter, scoring, grabbing an offensive rebound, hitting a free throw and then a three-pointer, but she was in and out of the game to get her ankle taped and couldn’t get a flow going.

The Vikings shot 2-10 from the free throw line.

Mascenic (0-9) has no seniors and just one junior, Olivia Shaw, and Coach Shaw said he expects the girls to all be back together next winter for another go-round.

“This is just the beginning for this program,” Shaw said. “It’s still a good experience for these girls because they’re only going to grow from it.”

Division III boys

Mascenic, Conant knocked out at Hopkinton

Defending Division III co-champions Mascenic took care of business right away in their playoff game at Hillsboro-Deering Wednesday night, holding the Hillcats to just one hoop in both the first and second quarter on their way to a 27-4 halftime lead.

When these two teams met last year, the Vikings pulled out to a similar commanding lead; head coach Brandon Kear played his bench for the entire fourth quarter, and the Hillcats nearly pulled an epic comeback, outscoring the Vikings 37-16 in the fourth.

Kear said he showed his boys that game film this week in practice and told them to approach the playoff matchup as if they were down by 21, and it seemed to work, as the Vikings beat the Hillcats 56-27.

“It motivated me, at least,” Kear said. “I think it was also a good way to show them how far they’ve come.”

Joe Cocozella had a game-high 15 for the Vikings; Zack Coombs had 10 to lead Hillsboro-Deering.

Right up the road Wednesday night, Conant lost their playoff matchup at Hopkinton. The Hawks have size in 6’8” Brendan Elrick; excellent guardplay in Quinn Whitehead and Michael Oberheim, and a lethal outside shooter in Owen Milchick, but the Orioles’ gritty effort kept them in the game until the final minutes.

“I couldn’t be more proud of those kids,” said Conant head coach Eric Saucier after the game. “I mean, it’s David and Goliath out there, and we never gave up.”

Senior Hayden Ketola came out hot against the Hawk man-to-man defense in the first half, scoring all seven of his points early on. Senior Colson Seppala had success early as well, with eight of his team-high 13.

Whitehead carried the first-half scoring load for the Hawks, with 10 of his game-high 14.

Garrett Somero did a tremendous job on Elrick defensively, holding him to 12 points on a bevy of offensive rebound putbacks. What Conant may have lacked in size and skill, they made up for with grit and hustle.

“It’s all heart,” Saucier said. “That’s what kept us in the game. I’ll coach kids with heart over kids with talent any day.”

Whatever success Conant found in the first half withered away in the second, as the Hawks switched to zone and planted Elrick in the middle. The Orioles, faced with a major shotblocking presence, became tentative, throwing up floaters to avoid the swat. Meanwhile, Milchick came alive for Hopkinton, hitting a three-point dagger to extend the Hawks’ 23-18 halftime lead to nine at the end of the third and then another in the fourth that buried the Orioles, and Hopkinton won it 46-31.

“I’m glad that these seniors and these kids got to play,” Saucier said. “COVID has been tough on everybody. I don’t even know what I would have done without the season. So to have a season and be able to give these kids a chance to compete and to give me some sanity – and get me away from my girlfriend, because I would drive her crazy – it’s a blessing and I’m glad we were able to do it.”

Mascenic moved on to Hopkinton Saturday evening. The Aerie spelled doom for Mascenic, who nearly overcame Hopkinton’s hot start and Owen Milchick’s lights-out shooting, but ultimately fell 47-37 to end their season in the quarterfinals.

Hopkinton has plenty of weapons, but it was the senior sniper Milchick who hurt the Vikings in the Hawks’ nest, scoring eight of his game-high 17 in the first quarter with a pair of open threes.

“It was just a careless first quarter,” Kear said. “Not closing out to shooters, a couple of turnovers – just not showing up fully ready to be great. We spotted him 19 in the first, first quarter, and then it was trying to play catch up from there. We dug our heels in and competed, which is great, but spot them that 19, it’s tough to overcome.”

Undersized and outgunned, the Vikings still nearly found a way to win thanks to strong defense the rest of the way, but their lack of a true go-get-me-a-bucket scorer left them unable to penetrate and convert consistently. Dylan Barthel (team-high 11 points) found some success driving right at Elrick and the Hopkinton D; senior center Gabe Turner pulled off a couple nice post moves and hit a pair of midrange jumpers for nine points, and Blaine Krook and Jack Cocozella were able to strike, sparingly, but it wasn’t enough. The Vikings hurt themselves at the line, too, shooting just 5-13 (somehow, Hopkinton did not attempt a single free throw).

The Vikings cut Hopkinton’s lead to 31-29 late in the third quarter after Krook took a charge and Mascenic got a breakaway layup from senior Shea Zina, but Milchick hit another dagger three followed up by an Oberheim buzzerbeater.

Mascenic’s press turned Hopkinton over three times in the final minute of the game but the Vikings couldn’t eat into the 10-point lead.

Coach Kear found himself in a novel situation after the game, his first true heartbreaking loss since taking over just after the 2019-20 season started. There was a lot more teaching for him this season than last, as the kids who grew up in the shadow of the 2020 championship class started coming into their own. There’s still a lot more to learn in this coming offseason, after the Vikings lose their size and strength with Zina and Turner graduating.

“We’re going to need everybody to be on another level,” Kear said. “I appreciate the work that Shea and Gabe put in. They were strong and stout for us and we’re going to need that next year. We’re going to have to play some old school Conant-style basketball and really just try to play fast and make you work. ... We still have plenty of untapped talent to dig into.”

Division II Girls

ConVal’s magnificent seven knocked out by Lebanon

The ConVal girls’ basketball team’s magnificent seven were reduced to a final four at the end of Friday’s NHIAA Division II home playoff game against Lebanon. The small but mighty Cougars were shorthanded the entire season, and after three of them fouled out fighting to the end of the 55-43 Raider victory, ConVal played the final minute with only four players on the court. Even then, the Cougars went down swinging, battling not simply for another playoff game, but to extend their shortened season for another day with each other.

“The biggest thing that we talked about the last couple of days – we just wanted to play for one more day in the gym,” ConVal head coach Kevin Proctor said. “It wasn’t even about getting to Hanover or Bow. We wanted to be in this gym tomorrow together.”

ConVal (1-7) gave the visiting Raiders all they could handle, holding Lebanon to just one field goal, a Catherine Cole three, in the first quarter. But Cole and her teammates would parade to the free throw line over and over again and make up the difference with stellar shooting from the stripe.

Cole (13 points) was 6-6 from the line in the quarter and finished 8-8, as did Salley Rainey (14 points). As a team, Lebanon got to the charity stripe 35 times, making 26, while ConVal shot just five free throws the entire game, making four.

“I was proud of their defense,” Proctor said. “I thought they did a good job. We had a game plan, we were able to neutralize it in the first.”

All seven of the Cougars contributed throughout the night; Maddy Faber (nine points) had tough buckets in the first and fourth and was all over the floor for loose balls; Makenna Proctor hit an early three and played smothering defense even after she was saddled with her third foul; Jada Stevens provided a spark off the bench; Mairin Burgess found success in the pick-and-roll; Morgan Bemont (eight points) handled the ball well hit two big threes in the fourth quarter, and the Cougars’ twin seniors Emily and Julia Donovan left it all on the floor as always, scoring eight points apiece in their final game.

Proctor said the Donovans’ senior leadership was crucial this season and seems to have rubbed off on the underclassmen.

“They are the nicest kids,” Proctor said. “I’ve been hard on them over the last couple of years because of the potential that I could see in them and what we needed from them. And I think that leadership, when your senior captains are getting that feedback from the coach, if they handle it with maturity and understand where it’s coming from, then that trickles down to the younger players. That’s a good role model.”

Despite the Raider free throw parade, ConVal kept it close the entire game, but the physical Lebanon defense turned up the pressure in the second half and ended up turning over the young Cougars 28 times. That’s something Proctor expects to shake off by the time next season rolls around, following an offseason full of AAU basketball for his team, bolstered by the return of players lost to COVID protocols and, hopefully, on the heels of a normal preseason.

“If we want to go beyond the prelims or the quarterfinals, we’re going to have to grow up a little bit in that regard,” Proctor said. “Being able to handle physicality as ballhandlers and kind of give it back a little bit, that’s something that offseason is going to really develop and the weight room is going to continue to develop.”

Division II Boys

ConVal season ends at Lebanon

The Cougars drew a tough tournament matchup in undefeated Lebanon, and the Raiders were as advertised, holding ConVal to just two points in the first quarter on the way to a 54-37 Division II playoff win.

“Tonight wasn’t our night, but we competed to the end,” ConVal head coach Leo Gershgorin said. “This season, these young men faced obstacles on and off the court like no team before them and overcame each one.”

Senior Wyatt Davis had nine points; senior Isaiah Michaels had eight and Christian Buffum had seven.

ConVal (6-5) graduates Davis, Michaels and Tristan Hutchinson.


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