Sunday, February 13, 2011

Newmarket Boys Remain Undefeated, Topple Pittsfield

It wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty, but they got it done. They used their depth and strong free throw shooting down the stretch to their advantage. And in a game between two of the best teams in Division IV, the Newmarket boys basketball team improved to 14-0 on the season with a 53-45 win over Pittsfield on Saturday night in Newmarket.

Newmarket = One of Just 4 Unbeatens Left in Boys Hoop
The only other teams still without a loss are Milford, Mascoma and Berlin. Anytime a team wins this many games in a row to start a season the question then becomes - is it better to lose a game before the playoffs so the team doesn't get complacent or do you go for the undefeated season?

"Undefeated is nice, but they don't hang banners unless you win the championship" said Newmarket head coach Jamie Hayes. "Although we actually consider our game vs. Wilton the other night to be a loss. We didn't play well that game - it was an eye opener for us."

Last year the Mules made it to the Class S semi-finals, but after last night they are now the odds-on favorite to win the D-IV title.

"They have those 3 guards with Filion, Hawkins and of course Adrian who are all very tough" said Pittsfield head coach Jason Darrah. "Adrian's a great player, he does a nice job of getting the other guys involved. For them to lose 4 starters and still be this good is impressive."

Adrian Edgerly, a 5'10" senior point guard, has been leading Newmarket all season. He is a returning all-state player and a possible Player of the Year this season in D-IV.

"I want to win every game" Edgerly said. "I'm not worried about us getting ahead of ourselves."

Pittsfield Nearly Pulled the Upset
I expected a close battle in this game. Even though Pittsfield now has 6 losses, they have had a brutal schedule and they had a bunch of injuries early in the season. They are one of the top teams in the division, along with Newmarket, Derryfield and Moultonborough.

With under 2 minutes left in Saturday night Pittsfield was only down by 2, 45-43. The Panthers even led in this game 31-29 late in the 3rd quarter. And they started the game on a 12-4 run.

Depth and Ball Handling Were the Difference
In this game you had 2 good teams, but 2 VERY different teams. Newmarket is a smaller team that is centered around the play of their back court if Edgerly, Christian Filion and Christian Hawkins (only a sophomore, younger brother of former Newmarket star Curtis Williams). The Mules are small, but they're quick, they have kids who can handle the ball well and shoot it. Pittsfield meanwhile is a team that relies on the play of their bigs. 6'9" senior Ben Hill and 6'3" junior Donoven Emerson are their best players, but ball handling and depth are their weaknesses. Newmarket exploited those weakness en route to the win.

The Mules went with a 9 player rotation and did a nice job of keeping their starters fresh for the end of the game. Pittsfield meanwhile played their starters for virtually the entire game.

"We kept rotating 2 new bigs in every few minutes" said Coach Hayes.

As good as Pittsfield's big guys are at rebounding and scoring down low, their lack of ball handling hurt them, as Newmarket forced a number of turnovers.

"They had a hard time getting the ball up the court" said Edgerly. "I would rather have guards over bigs any day."

Team Effort for Mules
Edgerly had a tough game, with a few turnovers, missed 4 straight foul shots in the 1st half and only made 4 field goals, going 0/5 from three-point range. But he stuck with it, and made some big plays and free throws down the stretch. He ended up with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

"I just couldn't buy a basket" said Edgerly. "They taped the Derryfield game so they knew all of our sets."

Newmarket also got strong play from Filion (pictured above), Hawkins, Josh Eisfeller, Ryan Carpenter, Kevin Clougherty and Robert McGloughlin.

"Hawkins is an unbelievable defender, he's stepped up and hit some big shots" said Hayes. "Him and Clougherty did a real nice job of shutting down Chagnon (Kevin Chagnon is Pittsfield's point guard). Filion is getting better, his knee is starting to get back to 100%. And Carpenter is a senior who hasn't played basketball since elementary school."

Filion (12 points) hit some big shots, and made a nice coast-to-coast move in the 1st quarter which ended with a nice pull-up jumper. Hawkins (10 points) is an athletic guard who played tough defense and also had a big three-pointer late to extend the Newmarket lead.

The Mules trailed 12-4 early on, but then they went on a 13-0 run to take a 17-12 lead in the 2nd quarter. Filion and Clougherty both hit threes, and Eisfeller also made a nice bank shot inside over the outstretched arm of Hill. Filion also made a nice dish inside to Eisfeller for a layup inn the 3rd quarter which gave Newmarket a 29-22 lead with 4:03 left in the 3rd. Edgerly's shots weren't falling, but he did a nice job of getting his teammates involved and handling the basketball against defensive pressure.

Emerson and Hill Kept Panthers in It
Emerson is a hard working forward, who once again played well for Pittsfield. He had a team-high 16 points along with 10 rebounds. Hill had 14 points and 9 rebounds.

Hill also had the play of the game, which came about halfway through the 3rd quarter. He caught a pass at the left elbow and immediately faced up towards the basket. Hill then put the ball on the floor and drove hard to the basket with his left hand. The help defense was late to get there, and Hill slammed it down with a 2 handed dunk. The play had the whole crowd buzzing.

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