Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Souhegan Moves to Championship by Beating Lebanon 53 - 45

By: Tuesday and Friday
On another emotional night of Souhegan basketball Brandon Len led the Sabers with 21 points to help the 7th seeded Souhegan club secure a spot in the Saturday 12:00 pm Championship game against Pembroke. Souhegan vaulted to a 17 - 8 first quarter lead helped by a combined 13 points from Len and Jake Kennedy. The 2 seniors seized the moment to start the game. "It's not how you start the season. It's how you play in March" said Len after the game. With time running down in the first Len had the ball far from the hoop. he crossed over, drove in and stepped back and launched a long 3. Swish at the buzzer !!

The 2nd quarter was played at a nice fluid pace as 10 players combined scored for both teams in a 15 - 15 quarter. With a 20 - 12 lead 1 minute into the 2nd quarter Len was smacked in the mouth on rebounding action by his teammate AJ Hayes. Len staggered and had to come out of the game with blood running from his mouth. "I got hit pretty good by AJ. My tooth came loose. I can still wiggle it." Well, I guess it's perfect symmetry for a slippery guard like Len who wiggles his way on the court for him to have a tooth that wiggles in a semifinal game. Dave Hampton and Nick Shepard knocked down a couple of hoops each for Lebanon. At the end of the quarter Len again for the last shot. It came up short, but Tanner Kent scooped the rebound and put in a bouncing roller at the buzzer to give Souhegan a 32 to 23 halftime lead.

Dominick Morrill started asserting himself in the 3rd quarter. He had 8 on two 3's and a FG. The very versatile 6'1 junior was the glue Lebanon needed to stick with Souhegan in the 3rd. he scored, rebounded and stole the ball. Len had 5 points to pace Souhegan in this quarter. You could sense Lebanon would make a comeback and they did down 40 to 34 entering the 4th quarter. Even though Lebanon was down 6 they could've been closer. Kennedy sat the last couple of minutes for Souhegan. Lebanon did not attack the Saber paint and settled for outside shots even with Kennedy out of the game. Lebanon certainly could have drawn closer at the end of the 3rd with a more assertive offensive plan at the end of the 3rd.

With 5;05 left in the game a Hampton 3 made it 42 to 39 in favor of Souhegan. 25 seconds later Len made a nice feed to Kennedy who laid it in to give Souhegan a 44 - 39 lead. A Shepard break away lay up drew Lebanon within 3 at 44 - 41 with 3:08 remaining. The Raiders got a 10 second call on the Sabers and had Big Mo squarely on their side. The next half minute produced 2 made 3's which make going to a game like this fun. 2 players who hadn't scored all game for their respective teams drained their 3 point attempts. The first by Kalin Sou with 2;17 left to tie the game at 44. Less than a half minute later Zack Simmonds got in the scoring column with his 3 to give Souhegan a 47 to 44 lead.With 50 seconds left Kennedy hit a 5 foot floater to give the Sabers a 49 to 44 lead. Brandon Len then made 4 FTs over the next 20 seconds to ice the Saber victory.

"Playing here before made a big difference tonight. We knew what to do" said Len. Souhegan Coach Mike Heaney lauded the defensive effort of Tanner Kent. "Hampton scored 30 on us last time. Tanner is a great track athlete and this served him well as he focused on stopping Hampton from scoring." Heaney talked about Tony Barksdale's father being there. "I hugged Tony's father. The team played like Tony tonight. They took charges. They dove after loose balls, just like Tony used to."

At the conclusion of the game Brandon Len went over to David Hampton and hugged him. The 2 great guards exchanged complimentary words while embracing. Playoff sportsmanship at it's best. After Len shook the hands of the Lebanon team he ran across the court to hug one of his youth coaches. A long emotion ridden hug. Sometimes after a playoff game you see sadness. Sometimes you see happiness. Sometimes, with the emotion of the star Souhegan senior Brandon Len, you see beautiful pieces of basketball time.

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