By: Ross Laorenza
It was 14-2 before everyone had a chance to sit down inside the gym at Epping High School, as the Blue Devils delivered a victory over a 7-1 Moultonborough team. Junior Captain, Dylan Derosier (#4) played exceptionally well before exiting early in the 4th, fouling out. Along with starters Thomas Bullock (#10), Jackson Rivers (#20), Brett Couture (#22), and Colby Wilson (#24) the Blue Devils used their size and transition passing attack on route to a 61-52 victory.
Of Derosier, Coach Sean Young said, “With the skills he brings to the table, it’s why as a junior right now he’s a captain of my basketball team. He exemplifies basketball.”
The 14-2 run that opened the game for the Devils was orchestrated by great defense and excellent passing. When one player grabbed a rebound they looked up court to find a streaking teammate. Jackson Rivers had 6 points in the opening sequence. Brett Couture had 4 points, including a great play when he poked the ball away from freshman Reese Swedberg (#12), to take the ball to the hoop.
After a timeout from the Moultonborough bench the scoring kept coming for Epping. Colby Wilson found Couture inside for another basket, before scoring himself on the next possession. Derosier capped the Blue Devil’s 1st quarter with a dead on three pointer. At the end of one Epping held a favorable 21-7 edge.
Moultonborough was able to slow the Epping attack in the 2nd half. “That was the bottom of my bench. They came in there and they did a nice job,” said Coach Matt Swedberg. “They made more baskets than the starters did….They attacked, they didn’t stay on their heels and they didn’t turn the ball over a whole,” he added.
Matt Tolman (#20), Tyler McLaughlin (#34), Doug Stockwell (#22) and Mack Kessler (#5) held their own for the first part of the 2nd quarter to give the Panthers a needed boost.
`Still Epping maintained a firm grip on the game. Derosier picked up another 8 points in the quarter, including a steal at the top of the key which he took to the rim making the bucket and 1. Moultonborough got a late flurry to pull within 14 points. At the half, Epping: 34, Moultonborough: 20.
The Devils were again dominant in the third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 16-7. Matt Norton opened the scoring for Moultonborough, but after that his opponents rattled off 5 straight. Colby Wilson had a great one touch pass to Couture inside; Couture then dished to Rivers for the hoop and harm.
John McClay (#1) drilled a three as Moultonborough tried to find their stroke. Two big blocks by Derosier and Rivers stymied the Panther attack on their next two possessions. With four minutes left in the 3rd and a ball that looked to be heading out of bounds Derosier showed his agility and basketball smarts. He raced toward the boundary, leapt, corralled the ball and found Bullock at the top of the key. After a few quick passes the ball found its way back into the hands of Derosier who nailed a three pointer.
Brett Couture’s physicality down low helped Epping get through the 1-3-1 set up defensively by Moultonborough. Couture scored 6 points in the third, including Epping’s final shot of the period to give them 50 points through three. At the end of the third Epping: 50, Moultonborough: 27.
The Panthers never gave up hope and came back with a strong 4th quarter. They found their stroke late to the tune of 25 points. “Offensively to this point in the season, we’ve kind of been struggling to find ways to score,” said coach Swedberg. “Tonight we kind of open some things up….Finally because they knew they were down they starting just attacking, catching and shooting, getting some penetration and then kick.”
Moultonborough opened the 4th with a 19-4 run that cut the lead down to 6 points. McClay accounted for 8 of those points for his team as they tried to come back late.
I asked Coach Young what he said to his team when the Blue Devils took a timeout at the end of that run. “It was calm down and relax, he said. “One of the best parts was most of the guys ran the huddle when they came over. We’d have one or two guys that had started to panic a little bit and the other four guys were doing a nice job staying focused.”
That focus led to a win for Epping as they closed the game win a 7-6 run, going 5 for 8 from the free throw line. Final score Epping: 61, Moultonborough: 52.
Brett Couture score 20 points in the win for the Blue Devils. Dylan Derosier finished with 16 points, Jackson River totaled 11 and Colby Wilson scored 10 for Epping.
John McClay sparked his team late with an 11 point fourth quarter. He totaled 18 point on the night. His teammate Dylan Rowan (#14) totaled 11 points. They were the only two Panthers in double figures.
From Epping High School, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook