By: Jeremy Leveille
Following years as a Division I doormat, this is the best team Keene has had in recent memory. The Blackbirds got their season off to a 3-0 start. But this has been a tough week, as they lost to Manchester Central on a buzzer beater on Tuesday night. Then on Friday night they blew a 13 point 2nd half lead, falling to Dover on another last second shot.
In a thrilling finish, Keene sophomore guard Jake Blaisdell (10 points) drove to the bucket for a strong finish, and-1 to put the Blackbirds back on top 57-56 with 33.7 seconds left in regulation which got the Keene bench pumped up. Then it's Dover ball, and they called timeout with just 18.6 seconds remaining. Eric Evans' (team-high 17 points) 3-pointer attempt was no good, but nobody boxed out John Cantwell (11 points), who grabbed the offensive rebound, missed the put-back attempt but got his own rebound and this time banked it in for 2 with 9 seconds left.
Keene was unable to get a shot off in the closing seconds on the other end, and Dover wins it 58-57. A thrilling win for the Green Wave, and the second heartbreaking loss of the week for the Blackbirds.
Keene junior guard Logan Galanes dropped a game-high 21 points in defeat. He showed the ability to slash to the rim for some strong finishes inside, knock down the outside shot, has a mid-range game and also finished in transition. Galanes also played tough defense throughout the contest.
Keene head coach Dave Sontag picked up a technical foul with under 3 minutes left in regulation. Dover senior forward Griffin Young (15 points) was at the line about to shoot the first of two free throws, when Sontag was whistled for the technical for yelling at the officials during a free throw attempt. So as a result, Dover got four fioul shots in a row, plus they retained possession. That played a huge part in the outcome of this game.
Still, Keene kept battling. Galanes drove to the rim for an and-1 finish, but the Green Wave answered back on the other end as Evans drove hard to the bucket for a nifty finish of his own to extend the Dover lead to 56-50.
Galanes made a nice defensive play, deflecting the ball and then it went out of bounds off Dover. That gave the Blackbirds the ball, trailing 56-54. That's when Blaisdell came through with the drive and and-1 to put Keene back ahead.
So how did Dover come back from a 13 point 2nd half deficit? Evans got the rally started - he missed a 3-pointer, but nobody boxed him out so he ran in towards the bucket, leaped up and while still in mid-air he tipped in his own miss for 2. Then came more second chance points for the Green Wave, as Young drained a 3. On their next possession it was Cantwell who connected on a 3. That capped an 8-0 run and just like that Dover was right back in it, now only down 33-28, forcing Coach Sontag to call a timeout.
The saying is you live by the 3 and die by the 3. Dover was dying by the 3 in the 1st half (when they only scored 18 points), but they were living by it now.
Out of the timeout Sean Corrigan hit a long 2-pointer off the catch. Dover kept the momentum going though, as Austin McClean drove hard into the lane, then made a great dish inside to Cantwell who went up strong, got fouled and made 1 of 2 FTs. Just seconds later Cantwell made a steal near mid-court and took it all the way in for the layup. On the other end McClean took a charge on defense. Then senior wing Ryan Innis drove and finished in traffic for Dover to tie it up 35-35. That was the score after 3, as the Green Wave ended the quarter on a 15-2 run and they were all fired up in the huddle.
Keene senior forward Brad Blake put the Blackbirds back on top early in the 4th, scoring inside for an and-1. Then Blaisdell banked in a 3-pointer, and it was 41-37 Keene. The Blackbirds tried to extend their lead, but Blake's shot inside was blocked by Cantwell. Evans drove to the rim for 2, tying it up 41-41 with 4:55 left in the 4th quarter.
Dover then took their first lead since the 2nd quarter, as Evans zipped a great pass over to Young for a layup to make it 43-41 Green Wave, forcing another Keene timeout. Dover went up 45-41, as Evans grabbed a steal off a sideline out of bounds inbounds pass and went in for the easy layup. On the other end senior guard Spencer Feng countered for Keene by hitting a baseline jumper. Just seconds later Cantwell answered right back, connecting on a 15-footer off the bounce, plus he got fouled for the and-1. That made it 48-43 Green Wave with 3:40 remaining.
Keene got a defensive rebound and quickly pushed the ball on the break, with Galanes racing to the rim for the layup. But on the other end Yound drained another 3-pointer, and it was 51-47 Dover with 3:00 left to play. That's when Coach Sontag picked up the technical foul, and you know how the rest went by reading above.
Dover came out in the 1st quarter with an intense pressure half court man-to-man defense. They were overplaying out on the perimeter though, and Galanes cut back door, caught the ball inside for an and-1. Evans drained a 3 from the corner off the catch. Feng hit a pull-up jumper from the elbow. Young was working hard on the offensive boards. Blake made a nice block, but Dover kept possession and Devin Cady converted a tough finish inside.
Ben Raineri came in off the Green Wave bench and immediately crashed the offensive glass for a tip-in. That forced Keene to call a timeout, now trailing 8-5 with 4:44 left in the opening quarter. What Coach Sontag said in that timeout must have worked, because his squad came back out and went on an 11-2 run to end the 1st quarter. Galanes drove, missed a leaner but tipped in his own miss for the bucket. On the next trip down the floor it was Galanes again, this time slashing to the rim for 2.
Cady missed a 3, but tipped in his own miss for the finish. Galanes got fiuled on a 3-pointer attempt and sunk all 3 shots. Keene was up 12-10 and Galanes already had 10 points on his own. Then his teammate Dylan Grover zipped a nice pass from up top to Blake who was cutting to the basket for the layup. Then Grover converted a reverse put-back with 1 second left in the quarter, and it was 16-10 Blackbirds after 1.
Dover was hanging tough, as Cady drove and finished inside then Raineri took a charge on 'D'. Dover was settling for 3's. Most of them weren't falling, but then Innis drained a 3 off the catch from the right wing. On the next trip down the floor Evans connected on a 3 from that same spot. It was now 18-16 Green Wave with 4:30 left in the 1st half - Dover was on an 8-0 run.
The game of runs continued, as Keene ended the 2nd quarter on a 6-0 run. Galanes drove into the lane and hit a floater. Then Galanes drove and finished inside. It was 22-18 Blackbirds at the half.
Keene scored the last six points of the 1st half and they scored the first eight points of the 2nd half. Innis drew a charge on Blake. It was a tough call, and would have been an and-1 finish for Blake. Blake didn't let that play get him down though, as he blocked a shot on 'D' on the other end.Blaisdell drilled a 3-pointer to put Keene up 26-18, and then Blake turned and scored in the low post to make it 28-18. Dover 's 3's weren;'t falling right now. Blake finished inside for 2 more, making it 30-18 Keene and capping their 14-0 run with 4:30 left in the 3rd quarter.
Galanes connected on a 3 from the key to extend the Blackbirds' lead to 33-20, their largest lead of the game. That's when Dover began to mount their comeback.