By: Ross Laorenza
Cole Remilard’s 18 points lead the way as Merrimack Valley defeated Milford in a closely contested D-II match-up 56-52. With the teams tied 22 at halftime, Valley held Milford to 7 points in the third quarter and opened up a 41-29 lead. The Spartans charged back behind great shooting from Jack Briggs (#20), Daniel Murray (#14), and Drew Jepson (#13) to tie the game at 49 with 2:44 remaining. After Valley went ahead 52-49 on free throw, Jepson had a chance to tie the game again with a corner three but it rimmed out.
With less than 30 seconds to play Remilard missed the front end of a one-and-one giving Milford late chance. Briggs dribbled up court and drove hard to the basket picking up the basket and one. Game tied 52-52. With Valley trying to push the ball up the floor, Ryan Banuskevich got called for a blocking foul at mid-court sending Remilard back to the stripe. He made both free throws to give Valley a 54-52 lead.
Banuskevich would get a chance to atone for his foul. Briggs found him alone, beyond the arch for a go-ahead three but the shot missed and the Pride pounced on the rebound. A quick foul from Kirk Palladino gave Remilard two more shots to seal the victory with 1.9
remaining. Cole sank the both to the relief of some very stressed out Valley fans. Final score Merrimack Valley: 56, Milford: 52.
“Absolutely thrilled that we got the win,” said Coach Kevin O’Brien. “With a team like Milford, they play hard all the time, they’re very well coached. You don’t have to leave the door open…they’ll take care of business. And you just can’t have that.”
Part of Milford’s big comeback in the fourth was their ability to slow down Merrimack Valley’s punishing inside duo of Justin Williams (#33) and Bruce Barton (#23). The pair had a combined 16 points through three quarters, but managed only 2 points in the 4th.
“Guards are normally our strength, but they just didn’t get going ‘til later in the game,” said Milford head Coach Dan Murray. “I thought our kids played hard…They just didn’t play with a flow, especially in that 3rd quarter. They made a nice run to comeback; we just need a little more purpose on offense.”
Cole Remilard led all scorers with 18 points, 11 of 16 from the line. Ian Curtin totaled 10 points for the Pride. Bruce Barton and Justin Williams combined for 18 points in the win.
Jack Briggs led Milford with 12 points. Max Urda totaled 8 points, Kirk Palladino scored 7 points, Daniel Murray had 6 points, Ryan Banuskevich and Drew Jepson finished with 5 apiece for the Spartans in the loss.
Milford falls to 10-6 with the defeat. They will look to rebound Tuesday, at home against ConVal. Merrimack Valley improves to 12-4 with their victory. They will host Kingswood on Monday; a team they beat 68-46 just 10 days ago.
From Penacook, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook