With 3 weeks to go in the regular season Newport boys traveled to Hopkinton with first place in the division on the line. Both teams come into to the game with only one loss with the winner of this game positioning themselves for a potential one or two seed come playoffs.
The gym was packed and the Tigers of Newport knew they had to bring their A game to come away with a win in a gym that the Hawks are very hard to beat.
Newport is led by their all state forward arguably the best player in division 3 junior Andrew Houde. Andrew's running mate is the very quick point guard junior Spencer Coronis.
Hopkinton has a more balanced attack with senior Liam McNichlas at point, Jake Nelson, Brian Hauschild, Gabe Nichols round out a 4 guard attack along with junior Luke Luneau anchoring the center position.
With the energy of the home crowd Hopkinton started the game with all the momentum in their favor. Maybe an omen of how this game would turn out - on Newport's first possession the Hawks' Luke Luneau blocks a shot by Andrew Houde and after 2 steals (one by Hauschild and another by Luneau) Hopkinton starts the game with a 11-2 to run. Newport finally gets their legs and is able to close the lead to 13-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams played with a high intensity, in your face defense which kept the scoring opportunities at a minimum. Newport relied on the long distance shooting of Houde and Coronis. The duo combined for 15 of Newport's 19 first half points.
Hopkinton had all 5 starters score in the first half with Nelson leading the way with 8 points, giving the Hawks the lead at the the half 22-19.
This was one of those games where the defense controlled and neither team could go on any consistent offensive runs. The game went back and forth with neither team able to take control.
With 3 minutes to go in the game Newport's Coronis converted 2 fouls shots putting Newport in the lead at 41-37. Hopkinton's defense along with senior guard Gabe Nichols put his team on his back. Nichols scored the Hawk's next 6 points while their defense kept Newport off the scoreboard the rest of the game.
Newport had one more excellent opportunity with 30 seconds remaining. Coronis stole the ball down by 2 but his 3 point effort just rimmed out. With 9 seconds to go McNicholas for Hopkinton put the nail in the coffin, sinking 2 foul shots giving them a 4 point lead and the final score of 45-41.
Houde, considered by many the premier player in D3 will definitely have the opportunity to take his game to the college level. Andrew had one of those games that every star player has to deal with at sometime in their career. The ball just would not go in the basket for him. It didn't matter where he was shooting from, the basket had a lid and that was that! To his credit he didn't let it bother the rest of his game and he was able to help keep Newport in the game by being a monster on the boards pulling down at least 20 rebounds.
When your star player is having an off night you need someone else to step up and Coronis was the man for Newport. Coronis scored more than half of Newport's total ending the night with 23 points.
Houde's shot was not falling for him but you have to give a lot of credit to the defense played by Hopkinton. They had a hand in the face on every jump shot. Nichols was the leading scorer for Hopkinton with 14 points. The Hawks prevailed with a balanced attack and contributions from all the starters.