"We didn't beat them from the floor, we beat them from the line" said Newmarket head coach Jamie Hayes.
That pretty much sums up this game. Epping shot just 3/15 from the foul line, compared to 18/26 for Newmarket. That was the difference in the game, as the Newmarket boys basketball team remained undefeated and with a 43-31 win over their rival Epping on Thursday night in Epping.
Here's the game's complete recap, plus video highlights and a post-game interview with Player of the Game Adrian Edgerly.
Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws
Epping could have won this game if they shot better from the line. Late in the 3rd quarter the Blue Devils trailed by 7. At that point in the game they were 0/8 from the line. So if they made their free throws they would have been winning. Newmarket meanwhile was 8/10 from the line at the time. These were 2 evenly matched teams, what separated them was the charity stripe.
Give Epping Credit for Hanging in There Against a Tough Newmarket Squad
Going into this game Epping was only 1-3 while Newmarket was 6-0. Epping was coming off a 20 point loss in their last game to Derryfield. Newmarket was the clear cut favorite in this game. But you have to give the Blue Devils credit, because despite their woes at the foul line they battled hard, hung and there and played pretty much evenly with the Mules for the majority of this basketball game.
Epping junior guard Paul Holmes hit a pull-up jump shot from 15 feet away with 4:28 left in the 3rd quarter, tying the game up at 24-24. The crowd really got into it after that shot. That was halfway through the 3rd quarter though and the Blue Devils only scored 7 more points the rest of the game.
Epping just kept battling though, and they only trailed 27-24 early on in the 4th quarter.
In the 1st half it was 5'9" senior guard Dan Shennett who kept the Blue Devils in it. Newmarket led the entire half, but the lead was only about 3 or 4 points the whole way. Their largest lead of the half was just 5. The sharpshooting Shennett scored 11 of the team's first 13 points. He was hitting shots from all over the place, including a nice leaner along the baseline and a three-pointer from about 6 feet behind the arc. However Shennett would only score 5 more points over the next 2 and a half quarters.
"Dan's a good player and a good shooter" said Epping head coach Tim Sullivan. He was shooting well for us at first, but he played a lot of minutes tonight. As the game went on he lost his legs a little bit."
Also playing well for the Blue Devils were Jacob West, Brandon Carleton, Frank Stanley and Jimmy Stanley. West was particularly strong on both ends of the floor. He is the team's most athletic player and is only a freshman. Definitely a player to watch down the road.
Back-to-Back Threes for Newmarket Were Daggers
Epping was only down 27-24 early on in the 4th quarter. With a big home crowd behind them they had some momentum and it looked like they had a real shot at pulling the upset. But then Newmarket answered back with back-to-back threes, by senior guard Adrian Edgerly and sophomore guard Christian Hawkins. Just like that the Mules lead went from 3 to 9, and it was 33-24 Newmarket with just 5:14 left to play. The shots came during Epping's biggest scoring drought of the game, making the 9 point deficit seem more like 19.
Hawkins is a solid player, and being only a sophomore he'll keep getting better. He's only about 5'10", but quick, athletic and can shoot it. Hawkins finished with 12 points, including 3 three-pointers. Look for him to take over as the team's go-to scorer next season once Edgerly graduates.
Also for Newmarket, senior forward Ryan Carpenter was another solid contributor. He only had 2 points, but he did a very nice job on the glass, pulling down 9 rebounds on the game.
"Ryan Carpenter played very well for us, especially on the boards" said Coach Hayes.
Edgerly Played Through the Pain
Edgerly had a game-high 17 points, along with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals to lead the Mules to the win. I mentioned the big three that he hit to make it a 30-24 game after Epping had cut the Newmarket to just 3 in the 4th quarter. He also knocked down a number of clutch free throws down the stretch to help seal the victory. What's even more impressive is that he did all of that with a pretty bad headache. At the beginning of the 4th quarter he had to leave the game and immediately went to the end of the bench and put his head down.
"I had a really bad headache right then" said Edgerly.
Not even 2 minutes later he was right back in the game and then right after he went back in is when he knocked down the trey which doubled the Newmarket lead.
Rude Welcome for Epping Into Division IV
This is Epping's first season in D-IV after moving down from Class M (D-III). But it's like the schedule makers have basically said, "welcome to Division IV. As your welcome gift into the division you get to go and play all of our top teams consecutively to start your season."
The Blue Devils have had to face Pittsfield (4-2), Sanborn (2 divisions higher in D-II), Wilton-Lyndeborough (3-3), Derryfield (5-0) and now Newmarket (7-0). And oh by the way, they also have to play Raymond twice, yes the same Raymond team that is currently my #5 ranked team in Division III. They also still have to play Sanborn, Derryfield, Wilton and Pittsfield again and they also have to play Concord Christian (3-0) twice. That is a BRUTAL schedule for a D-IV team.
This is EXACTLY why we need the heal point system. Epping might only end up with 6 wins, while a team from up north that has a MUCH easier schedule gets wins 7 games and gets higher playoff seed despite the fact that Epping is a MUCH better basketball team. It's just not right.