Yes, it was yet another game that will go in the file titled, 'Why NH high school basketball needs a shot clock'. With a double digit lead, Sunapee held the ball for the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter as well as the first 2 minutes of the 4th. As a result, the 2 teams combined to score just 7 total points in the game's last 10 minutes as Sunapee prevailed 43-28 over Newmarket to improve to 11-2 on the season in Division IV.
Sunapee has an explosive offense that has scored over 90 points four times this season and they've scored over 70 points 8 times. That wasn't the case tonight. After a big 3-pointer by Matt Tenney capped a 10-2 run it was 38-23 Sunapee with 2:21 left in the 3rd quarter. Newmarket called a timeout, and then Sunapee held the ball for the next four minutes. Newmarket was sitting back in a 1-3-1 zone and wasn't coming out to pressure the basketball. Meanwhile, Sunapee was up 15 and had no reason to attack the Newmarket zone so they stood there holding the ball. For the love of god can we please get a shot clock?
"They are supposed to be this high powered offensive team and they had to hold the ball against us" said Newmarket head coach Jamie Hayes, whose team is a perennial contender in D-IV. "That favored us. The lower the score, the better it was for us. I took it as a sign of respect. I guess he felt he needed to hold the ball and didn't have the confidence in his team that he could beat us if they continued to play. We didn't win, but they didn't score a field goal in the fourth quarter and were held about 40 points below their average. They have prided themselves on scoring 80-90 points per game and they had to hold them ball against us. I guess that says they have a lot of respect for our defense."
During the 4-5 minutes where Sunapee was holding the ball the fans started to get restless.
"During one of the timeouts coach asked us what we wanted to do" said Sunapee's 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Isaiah Chappell. "As a team we decided to hold the ball if they didn't come of the zone. We like to score lots of points but getting the win is more important."
Newmarket seemed to get frustrated down the stretch with Sunapee holding the ball, as they were called for one intentional foul, and another very hard foul which wasn't called intentional (both times it was Chappell who got fouled). Chappell hit his free throws, and Sunapee took a 42-26 lead late in the game. Chappell (game-high 27 points) had outscored Newmarket's entire team to that point.
"Isaiah is easily the best player on their team" commented Coach Hayes. "He can shoot, handle, and sees the floor so well. Usually when he doesn't score it is because they don't get him the ball enough. He is a tough match up because he can beat you in so many ways. We just hope the other players don't share the ball and keep it out of his hands. That is the best way to keep him off the scoreboard."
Chappell got off to a hot start early on, scoring all 12 of his team's 1st quarter points as Sunapee had a 12-7 lead after 1. He hit a 3 to start the game, but then Cam Jordan answered with a 3 for the Mules. Then Ryan Jarvis scored inside off a nice lob pass to give Newmarket an early 5-3 lead. Sunapee was pressing full court, which quickened the pace of the game and creating fast break opportunities. Newmarket broke the press, and Jordan hit a tough leaner to put Newmarket on top 7-5. Sunapee then responded with a 7-0 run, with all 7 points coming from Chappell. He made a steal near half court then went in for the easy layup. Then after Sunapee got another quick steal, Chappell attacked the rim and got to the line, then buried another 3-pointer.
"I was just feeling my shot" said Chappell. "I focused on taking as many good shots as possible."
Chappell kept on scoring in the 2nd quarter. He converted a quick put-back to start the quarter, then Alex Gioldassis grabbed a rebounded and immediately fired a long pass to Chappell for another layup. It was 16-7 Sunapee, and all 16 points were scored by Chappell. Finally someone besides Chappell scored for Sunapee, as Gioldassis hustled inside for a put-back, and then James Fitzgerald drilled a 3-pointer of his own to make it 21-9 with 2:30 left in the 1st half. Sunapee was on a 16-2 run.
"As the better scoring team, we wanted a higher scoring game" said Sunapee head coach Ed Tenney. "Their best chance was for a lower number of possessions."
Just when Newmarket seemed to really be struggling to find offense Mike Sims hit a 3 - they really needed that! That cut the Lakers lead to 21-12, but then Nick Skarin made a nifty and-1 reverse layup right before halftime and it was 24-12 as the team's headed to their locker room. Sunapee wasn't scoring as much as they typically do, but they had to be happy with the effort defensively.
"On defense we focused on Jarvis said Chappell. "Knew he could score, but also focused on #24 (Jacob Valinski) but we also knew that he was more of a passer."
Scoring picked up to start the 3rd quarter, as Gioldassis hit a pull-up jumper for Sunapee, Valinski converted a put-back for Newmarket and Fitzgerald connected on a turnaround jumper for the Lakers. It was 28-14 Sunapee, their largest lead to that point.
The Mules battled back though, going on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 28-21. Jordan finished a put-back, Jarvis hit a 3 and Ian Bentley made a layup as part of the run.
"We knew their interior defense could not stop our bigs so we started to pound the ball inside more" explained Hayes. "When they doubled down, we played inside out and hit open shots."
That's when Sunapee responded with a 10-2 run to push their lead back up to 15 at 38-23. Chappell had a nice and-1 finish on the break, as he got whacked pretty hard but still made the layup. Matt Tenney (son of head coach Ed Tenney) capped the run with the aforementioned 3-pointer and you know how the rest of the game went.
Sunapee is definitely one of the favorites in Division IV. There's 5 times in D-IV with either 1 or 2 losses, and then you also have a dangerous Epping team at 11-3. The Lakers definitely have a shot at winning it this year, and with Chappell and Tenney only being sophomores they'll be good for years to come as well.