6 different players hit 3-pointers for Winnacunnet on Sunday night, as the Warriors jumped out to a quick early lead on Spaulding and didn't look back. Led by a game-high 16 points by senior guard Sam Knollmeyer, Winnacunnet defeated Spaulding 57-38 in the 3rd place game in the Bobcat Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Knollmeyer, Eric Dunn (13 points), Rich Ruffin (9 points), Seth Edwards, Paul Michaud and Chris Doyle all drained threes. Not only did they hit the 3 ball but at the same time they attacked the basket, getting Spaulding big man Charlie Nevejans in foul trouble. What Winnacunnet lacks in size they make up for with shooting, depth and quickness.
"We have to shoot it well because we don't have size" said Winnacunnet head coach Jay McKenna.
Winnacunnet started 5 guards and no forwards (Knollmeyer, Ruffin, Doyle, Edwards, Michaud). Spaulding countered with a lineup of 4 guards and 1 forward. However just 2 minutes into the game the Red Raiders were forced to take out their 1 forward, as Nevejans picked up 2 quick fouls. The first was an offensive foul, as Knollmeyer drew a charge. With Nevejans out of the game all 10 players on the court were guards.
Then the hot shooting began for the Warriors, as Ruffin, Knollmeyer and Edwards all connected from long range. Then Edwards broke free near the basket for an easy layup on a well drawn up baseline out of bounds play. Winnacunnet was also using their speed and aggressiveness to force turnovers with their press.
Spaulding was playing zone on defense, which opened up looks from the outside for the Warriors shooters. Winnacunnet led 14-5 after the 1st quarter. Dunn drilled his first 3 right off the bat to start the 2nd quarter, and it was 17-5 Winnacunnet. Finally Spaulding came out of the zone and went man, but then Ruffin drove, kicked it out to Michaud who buried a 3 of his own to make it 20-5.
Then came an offensive flurry, as the points started to come at a furious rate. Darian Berry hit a leaner, Dunn hit 2 more threes and a mid-range pull-up, Ruffin hit a leaner, and Berry drilled a 3-pointer - all in the span of about one minute!
Fearing the deficit was getting too high, Coach Cronin put Nevejans back in with 2 fouls. Dunn had 10 points on the quarter - not bad for a kid coming off the bench! Winnacunnet led at halftime 31-17.
The 3rd quarter is when the Warriors really broke this thing open. Knollmeyer made a strong drive and finish, then Edwards made a nice extra pass to Dunn for a layup. Then Knollmeyer and Doyle hit back-to-back threes, followed by a layup by Michaud. That capped a 15-2 run for Winnacunnet to start the 3rd quarter. After another 3 by Knollmeyer it was 49-21 Warriors. Quinn Connelly answered with a 3 ball of his own for Spaulding with just 3 seconds left in the quarter, and it was 49-24 Winnacunnet after 3.
Ruffin grabbed an offensive rebound, scored the put-back plus the foul to begin the 4th. Berry hit another 3, but then Ruffin went back door for a layup. Nevejans made a nice move baseline to get to the rim and finish, but the Warriors had this game well in hand. They cruised to the 57-38 win.
Winnacunnet looked very good tonight, and soon they will be getting senior Alec Boucher back from a hand injury. Boucher will give them some added depth, and at 6'2" with long arms adds size as well. This will be a tough team to beat in D-I.