By: Ross Laorenza
The Nashua South Purple Panthers have advanced to the NHIAA semi-finals with a win of (#12) Dover High School. Anyone who is a fan of Nashua South must need about three aspirin right now to dull the chest pain, after another OT thriller in the playoffs. South defeated Dover High School tonight, 61-57.
South jumped out to an early 10-2 lead tonight with contributions from the powerful duo of Jack Preston (#34) and David Dunham (#23). Preston and Dunham both reined two beautiful, rainbow three-pointers over the green wave defense. Dunham went 4/4 from beyond the arch in the first half, which included three 3-pointers in-a-row that pushed the South lead up to 21-8. With a minute-and-a-half gone by in the 2nd quarter it seemed South was going run-away with the game. But Dover would not go quietly into the night. This is the playoffs after all!
Changing the Tide
Led by (#30) Grant Faustino, (#10) Colin Shaugnessy, and (#41) Phil Boyatsis the Green Wave slowly began to change the tide of the game. The team took a time out after Dunham’s flurry of three’s to settle down and then began to chip away at the deficit. Slowly, shots began to fall and thedefense tightened for Dover.
With 2:31 left in the half (#5) Josh Cote and (#25) Billy Carroll hit back-to-back three pointers. The score is now 20-27. After a Trevor Knight free throw for South, Phil Boyatsis nailed a three. 23-28. Back and forth the teams went in the final minute. Dover riding high and South trying to stay ahead.
Danny Auger (#3) for South ended the first half scoring with a nice jumper. His team went into halftime clinging to a 30-26 lead. South allowed 18 second quarter points after only allowing 8 in the first quarter.
Prepare for some Dramatics
Dover seemed dead set on victory as the 2nd half began. Having already climbed back into the game it seemed likely a strong offensive push was coming. With less than two minutes gone by in the 3rd quarter the game was tied at 32-32. After trailing by as many as 13 points Dover had finally gotten the fresh start they wanted so bad. Game on!
I can only imagine the horror going through the minds of some of the Panthers at this point. Their lead is toast, a very tough Dover team has renewed confidence and now fans are yelling on both side of the gym.
“Wake up out there!” shouted one fan trying to will her team to victory. Who she was shouting for I couldn’t tell, but her message seemed to echo through the heads of everyone on the court. It sparked an amazing third quarter.
Fresh Legs and a Monster Block
Tim Preston(#4)sank a three for South with 5:34 to go in the quarter and then David Dunham followed him up with a nice two. 37-32 South leads. Then, Billy Carroll sank a nice two for Dover to keep bring the South lead back down to 3 points. After two missed free throws Jack Preston andTrevor Knight, took a short break on the bench. They were replaced by Cam Joyal(#10)and Nick Pentkala(#24) who were cycled in throughout the game.BothJoyal and Pentkala are excellent defenders and give South an solid option if any of the starters get into foul trouble. On the next possession, Dover’s Josh Cote was driving towards the hoop when Dunham for South came cruising through and swatted the ball clean out of bounds. You could hear the thwack half-way across the gym! Fans: excited. Reporter: excited.
Dover took their first lead of the game with under two minutes left in the third (40-39), but it was quickly erased by two shots by Tim Preston. Boyastis hit a three to jolt the Dover fans alive and tie the score 43-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
Colin Shaugnessy sank a three to start the 4th giving Dover a 46-43 lead. Tim Preston countered with a nice lay-in to cut the lead back to one point. Cote hit two free throws, as did Danny Auger, but Dover still clung to a small lead as the quarter progressed.
With half the quarter passed, the clock seemed to be both team enemy; neither team wanted to lose such a close game. Auger and Joyal hit back-to-back bucket to put South back up 51-50. Josh Cote stepped to the line with 3:52 remaining and sank both his free throws to give the Green wave a one point advantage. Tim Preston struck back with a nice field goal to give South a 53-53 lead and Trevor Knight added a free throw to make the score 54-52.
Dunham’s Dramatic Dive
With the game in the balance and two minutes, David Dunham stepped up again. Dover was pushing the floor trying to tie when he poked the ball away, dove head long on the floor, snagged the ball and called time out. It killed the momentum for the Green Wave.
As time slowly melted off the clock both teams scrambled up and down the floor; the Panthers trying to hold on to victory, Dover trying to win themselves. This game would take OT however. Josh Cote made two free throws with under 30 seconds left to tie it 54-54 More stress more excitement….
Why win in regulation when over-time bring so much cheer to everyone’s faces in the crowd? I don’t know, but it seems that some of the most memorable games require a little extra bit of time at the end.
The Panthers took a 57-54 lead with some clutch free throw shooting.The score would stay that way until only 1:23 reamined in OT. Josh Cote drilled a three to tie the score again 57-57.
There is now less than 30 seconds left and the game is still tied, Trevor Knight is at the line shooting two. He misses the first, composes himself and prepares to shoot.
“Get the rebound!!!!” Screamed a Green Wave fan, hoping his boys could run the floor for the win. It didn’t happen. Knight did miss the second shot, but David Dunham leapt up, snatched the ball and put it back towards the hoop. GOOD! South leads 59-57.
Dover tried to counter quickly, but had to call a time out with 7.7 seconds remaining. After the time out a costly double-dribble turned the ball back over to Nashua. Tim Preston got put on the free throw line with 1.9 seconds left. He sank both shots and officially put the game out of reach for Dover. Cheers erupted from the Nashua fans. Final Score: Nashua South 61 Dover 57
David Dunham and Tim Preston lead the way scoring with 19 points each, for Nashua. Josh Cote finished with 15 points, Billy Carroll had 14, ColinShaugnessy scored 11, for Dover. Their teammates Grant Faustino and Phil Boyastis combined for 14 points. Jack Preston had 13 points, Danny Auger finished with 6 for South. The Cardiac Cats do it again…
From Nashua, New Hampshire: Ross Laorenza; New Hampshire Notebook