By: Ross Laorenza
The Varsity doubleheader between the Nashua South Panthers and Nashua North Titans yielded two great games Friday night. The first game featured the varsity girls with Nashua North pulling away from South in the second half to win 54-36. The boys game was a back and forth nail biter finish, with South pulling ahead in the final minute to win 70-66. Here's a recap of both games.
Taylor Choate Leads North Past South
Taylor Choate is an amazing athlete and he shown continued growth over her four years on the Nashua North varsity team. She is the only senior on the Titan squad that has four freshmen, including Choate’s younger sister Alana, and younger cousin Micheala. Taylor totaled 15 points to lead the way offensively and played a big role in transition defense picking up would be South passes.
“We got off to a really slow start... I think we were a little amped up because of the rivalry, but as the game started to calm down, we started to move the ball well and making our shots,” said Choate.
Choate also gave credit to some of her fellow teammates. “Sara (Cordova) is probably the best shooter on the team. Isabel Dunning, sophomore, she usually scores big buckets for us and she did really good on defense today.”
After the team traded baskets early on, North was able to take a 5-4 lead with a three pointer from the junior, Cordova. Her ability to shoot from long range spread things out inside for Taylor Choate and guard, Adaeze Okorie.
But South was resilient in the first quarter. Baskets from Heather Bridge and Holly Gaudet saw the Panthers push out in front with a 11-5 lead. Jocelyn Chaput added two more before the Titans responded. A 6-2 run for North cut the lead down to 15-11. Taylor Choate scored twice. Here cousin Michaela also grabbed her first points on the night. North would add a free throw from Okoire and at the end of the first Nashua South held a 15-12 advantage.
“It’s a rivalry. You can’t look at the record, you just have to come and play the game,” said Head Coach Ricky Oliver. “We just had to settle down and play. You know, once we did that we’re in good shape. We knew if we could turn them over, we could break out and stop them from scoring,” he added.
Adaeze Okorie got one of those turnovers to start the second quarter as she stole the ball and went the rest of the way to the hoop for the easy score. Her team really grabbed momentum in the 2nd, by outscoring South 12-3. Isabel Dunning added a block and a basket to her stat sheet in the 2nd. Okorie gave her team the lead with a fancy move cutting to the basket for a lay-in and one. Taylor Choate capped the quarter with a three pointer with less than 5 seconds remaining. At the half, North: 24, South:18.
Michaela Choate opened the scoring in the third quarter after grabbing an offensive rebound for the put back. Dunning would follow suit with a similar play the next time down the floor, out rebounding two Panthers on her way to the basket. The Titans got their hands in the passing lanes with two more steal from Okorie and Cordova. As we neared the half way in the quarter the North lead had swelled to 32-19.
After Cordova picked up her third foul, Alexis Ivory became a threat from the wing, drilling a three in the corner. Taylor Choate would grab back to back steal. The first time with her scoring and the second time she fed the ball to Dunning underneath. After a hard foul by South’s Tenysha Garvin, Choate was at the line for three free throws. She made them all despite jeers and air horns from the student section. At the end of the 3rd, North: 42, South: 20
The teams exchanged a flurry of three pointers as we began the fourth. First Daija Gianitsis scored for South. After a nice hook shot from Dunning, Alana Choate hit from long range. Abigial Hearn-Gordy countered with two threes of her own for South, but they still trailed by 19, (48-29). Michaela Choate and Jocelyn Chaput took turns trading shots as both teams raced towards the finish. In the end, the big 2nd and 3rd quarters from North proved to be too much to overcome for the Panthers. Final Score, Nashua North: 54, Nashua South: 36.
The Titans defense played exceptionally well in the middle two periods allowing just 5 point as they took the lead. They battled for everyone rebound and loose ball on the way to victory, tonight.
Taylor Choate finished with 15 points. Adaeze Okorie and Isabel Dunning also scored in double digits with 10 points each. Sara Cordova finished with 5 point to go along with her great perimeter defense.
Abigial Hearn-Gordy scored 10 points in the loss for South. Heather Bridge and Jocelyn Chaput scored 6 points each.
South Boys Win a Drama Packed Game Against North
If you thought it was loud inside the Belanger Gymnasium for the Girls Varsity contest, the fans took it to another level for the night cap between the boys’ squads for North and South. Nate Mazzerole coached a beautiful game for the Panthers who trailed by 4 with 2:30 to play before coming back for an eventual 70-66 victory.
North controlled the pace early and jumped out to a 12-5 lead. Nathan Hale and Richard Constant both connected from long range in the opening minutes. Mike Osgood, Zavier Williams and Malik Langa fought hard all night to try and contain some of the shooters from North. After baskets from Osgood and Williams cut the lead to three, Hale hit again from long range. He totaled 8 points in the opening quarter.
South would tie the game at 17 with three pointers from Langa and Kevin Genao, but with less than 30 seconds to play Brendan Barrett stole the ball away and headed for the hoop. At the end of the first quarter, North: 19, South: 17.
DJ Frechette made a major impact in the second quarter. Although he seemed to struggle offensively he was able to find open teammates and set them up for solid shot attempts. “I didn’t really have a good game offensively and just to know they have my back and to pick me up is a really good feeling to have,” said Frechette.
With the game tied after Frechette found Genao open for two, Ronnie Silva and Malik Langa traded shots from beyond the arch. South would take a brief lead after Frechette fed the ball inside for Rohan Patel, who got fouled and made one of two.
“I was really happy for Rohan Patel,” said Coach Nate Mazerolle, “He got some big rebounds early, some free throws early and had some nice hoops.”
North would regain the lead with a layup from Ronnie Silva. His battle with Genao was one of the most interesting on the night. Both are sophomores and played well beyond expectation, guarding each other and finding ways to score. After Silva’s shot, Nathan Hale added to the North lead with back-to-back three pointers that had the North fan section cheering at their peak.
Shots from Mike Osgood and younger Maxwell Osgood, who was just promoted from JV cut the lead down to three. With the score 33-30 North, Hale drove hard to the hoop, getting the basket to fall and one. Trailing by 6 points with less than a minute to play, it seemed South was fated to go into the half at a deficit, but DJ Frechette came ready for the big moments. He hit two threes in the final 30 seconds, including one at the buzzer to tie the game at 36 all at the half. Incredible play from the sophomore!
Rohan Patel opened the scoring in the third quarter with a basket down low. Then Hale scored again for North to tie the game at 38. Zavier Williams put South back into front hitting 2 of 3 at the free throw line after getting fouled. But, Hale would hit two free throws at the other end for North to tie the game again.
It was back and forth all second half with no team gaining larger 6 point lead. Brandon Rodriguez had an amazing second half for the Titans. When Malik Langa effectively shut down hale in the fourth quarter it was Rodriguez who stepped up for North. Rodriguez gave his team a 4 point advantage after taking the ball coast-to-coast.
Williams scored for South, then Rodriguez again for North. Mike Osgood started to get in rhythm for the Panthers. He caught one pass down low and drove through the paint for a finger roll. After Hale hit for North, it was Osgood adding an exclamation point to his possession with a dunk at the other end. At the end of the third quarter, North: 49, South: 46.
As I said above, Malik Langa did a great job shutting down Hale in the fourth. After scoring 23 points through the first three quarter, he was shot out in the fourth. It would be Rodriguez who carried the load in the fourth for North, scoring 14 of his 24 points in the final quarter.
Alejandro Jones hit 3 of 4 free throws starting the fourth for the Titans. South already had 8 fouls less than a minute in. DJ Frechette drew a charge on the next Titan poessesion and then drilled a three at the opposite end of the floor. 52-49, North.
Two free throws from Rodriguez pushed the lead to five after he drew contact in the lane. Frechette again for three…..GOOD! Rodriguez now, taking the ball the length of the court for a crazy reverse layup and he got it to fall. After those free throws by Jones to start the quarter, Rodriguez was the only player to score for North. He took over the offense.
South was able to spread the ball around. Maxwell Osgood scored after grabbing an offensive board and Kevin Genao hit for three points to cut the lead to 61-59 with just over three minutes remaining.
Two free throws from Rodriguez put North up four points with 2:31 to play.Genao scored again for South and after a miss by Hale, South pounced at the chance to tie. Frechette missed by Zavier Williams got the put back for a 63-63 tie.
With less than 1:30 remaining DJ was called for a loose ball foul on Rodriguez. The crowd was growing restless. Brandon hit 1 of 2 to put North ahead. The Panthers charge back down the floor with Malik Langa scoring to put South ahead 66-65. Rodriguez, not phased, drove the ball the length of the floor and scored. Timeout, South.
With Malik Langa inbounding the ball from half court, coach Mazerolle was able to draw up a great play. “In my 16 years here I can probably only count on one hand how many designed plays worked,” he joked after the game. But this was a one to remember.
As the players began to motion, Mike Osgood cut to the basket and Langa was able to lob it over the reach of Richard Constant. Osgood scored and Constant picked up his fifth foul. With the free throw South took a 68-66 lead with less than a minute remaining. Hale missed a chance to tie at the other end and the Panthers called a timeout with 15 second left. Knowing he had another timeout in his pocket, after unsuccessfully trying to find an open man Malik Langa signaled timeout for the final time.
There was a shade of controversy at the end of this game. After Langa passed inbound, there was a scramble for the ball and it eventually found its’ way into the hand of Ronnie Silva for North. As he tried to call timeout to set up one last play for his team with 9.4 second remaining he was called for double-dribble and possession returned to South. Langa found DJ Frechette who was immediately fouled and made both shots to put South ahead 70-66. Silva tried one last three pointer and tried to draw contact, but the shot sailed wide and the buzzer sounded. Final score, Nashua South: 70, Nashua North: 66.
It was an all-around team win for the Panthers. They had four players in double figures with Frechette (14 points), Mike Osgood (13 points), Zavier Williams (13 point) and Kevin Genao (11 points). Malik Langa had 7 points to go with his outstanding fourth quarter defense of Hale. Rohan Patel also finished with 7 points for the Panthers.
Brandon Rodriguez and Nathan Hale both scored in the 20’s, with 24 and 23 points respectively, but the next highest total was 7 points from Ronnie Silva.