Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bow Boys Defeat Mascoma, Punch Ticket to Title Game

Mascoma was the #1 seed and Bow was the #5. But judging from the way tonight's game went you would have thought it was the other way around.

Behind exceptional back court play the Bow High boys basketball team was able to pull out a 59-46 win over previously undefeated Mascoma in the Division III semi-finals on Tuesday night at SNHU.

Bow ended the 1st half on a 16-2 run, which was led by Ryan Hill and Connor Hill (no relation). In the 2nd half it was Connor Hill, Erik Michaud and the strong defense of Gregg Froleiks which helped to seal the win for the falcons and hold off a 2nd half rally by Mascoma.

Back and Forth 1st Quarter
Mascoma actually led this game 12-10 at the end of a back-and-forth 1st quarter. The most impressive player on either team in the game's opening stanza was John Fitzgerald. The 6'1" wing player was was playing with a ton of energy, and he is already an explosive player anyways. Fitzgerald had 7 of his team-high 20 points in the quarter. His 2 most impressive plays were a nice and-1 finish right at the very beginning of the game, and an excellent pull-up jump shot from beyond the three-point arc later on, which gave the Royals a 10-9 lead at the time.

There were definitely some nerves out there and some silly turnovers early on both sides (as to be expected). But the game did get a nice flow to it halfway through the frame when Ethan Dickinson hit a three for Mascoma to put them ahead 7-6, and then literally 10 seconds later Connor Hill drained one of his own to put Bow on top 9-7.

16-2 Run in 2nd Quarter for Bow Was the Difference
Ryan Hill had a big 2nd quarter for Bow. He was getting out in transition and finishing on the break, draining threes and making some nice drives to the basket. Hill also played tough defense.

"Ryan swung the momentum for us" said Michaud. "That was huge".

He is the silent assassin for this Bow basketball team. Guys like Connor Hill, Erik Michaud and Josh Faber might get more headlines, and be more outspoken, but Ryan Hill made a statement in this game that he is also a player to be reckon with. He finished with 18 points, 3 steals and 3 blocks.

"Teams usually focus on our other guys and sometimes forget about me" said Ryan Hill after his big game. "But I just caught fire in that 2nd quarter, and after I made a couple I didn't even think about it anymore. My coaches have a lot of confidence in me, they give me the green light to shoot it whenever I'm open."

Connor Hill (20 points and 5 steals) was also very good in the 2nd frame.

Bow Defense Was Exceptional
Mascoma is a good team. They are a team that scored 70 points on Bow earlier in the season when these same 2 teams met (Mascoma won that game). But it was a completely different story this evening in the semi-finals.

"Our defense is what got us the win" said Connor Hill after the game.

Bow held Mascoma to only 16 points in the entire 1st half. And although the Royals did score 30 in the 2nd half, nothing came easy.

"I thought our zone was pretty effective" said Bow first-year head coach Dave Michaud. "Before the game we wrote the number 41 on the chalkboard. Our goal was to hold them to that number."

Mascoma did make a couple of threes here and there, and they could have scored more but they missed some easy shots inside. But overall they struggled to move the basketball and run their sets to get good looks.

"We were just taking the first shot that we got every time, especially in the 1st half" said Mascoma head coach Jim Barry.

The defensive effort by the Falcons was very impressive. Although they did allow Fitzgerald to score 20, they did a nice job of limiting the touches and points that Mascoma's star senior forward Conner Torrey was able to get.

"We played zone because other than 1 kid we knew they didn't really have any shooters" said Erik Michaud. "And I thought we did a good job on Torrey."

The 6'6" Torrey finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

Falcons Withstand 2nd Half Run by Royals
Bow led by as many as 14 points, 30-16 early in the 3rd quarter. But then Mascoma was able to get back in the game. The Royals went on a 13-4 run in the matter of just a few minutes, and cut the Falcons lad to 34-29. The run was fueled by the play of Ryan Coleman, Fitzgerald, Codie Wardwell and Kyle Welenc. Torrey was also doing a nice job on the boards. Wardwell and Welenc both hit big threes. Coleman had a nice and-1 finish and then took a charge on defense. And Fitzgerald had a nice offensive rebound and and-1 finish of his own. Mascoma only trailed 40-33 after 3 quarters.

Michaud hit a BIG three-pointer right at the beginning of the 4th though, pushing the Bow lead back up to 10, 45-35. Mascoma wasn't giving up quite yet. Ethan Dickinson drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead to 6, 48-42 with 3:20 left to play.

But from then on it was all Bow. There was one stretch late in the game where Ryan Hill, Connor Hill, Erik Michaud and Josh Faber all went to the line for 2 shots apiece for Bow. Combined they made 7 of those 8 shots. That's 87.5%, and it's a big reason why the Falcons prevailed. Froleiks also played great defense down the stretch, including a tremendous hustle play where he dove out of bounds fr a loose ball, saved kit and got it over to Ryan Hill all at the same time. Froleiks didn't score a point in this game, but he did the little things necessary to win. Michaud was very good in the 2nd half, scoring 11 of his 14 points. He also tallied 6 assists and 4 steals.

Bow vs. Somersworth Final
Saturday at 5 pm right back at SNHU it will be Somersworth and Bow for the D-III title. Somersworth won the regular season meeting between the 2 teams, but that was way back in December, the first game of the season. And neither Connor Hill nor Erik Michaud played in that game for Bow. Both teams are different teams now than they were then, and in a VERY good way. Should be a great game.

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