By: Ross Laorenza
Nashua North edged out Winnacunnet 51-48 in a battle of two 4-1 teams Tuesday night. The Warriors led by 9 points entering the final quarter, but were outscored 17-5 down the stretch. North senior Nate Hale exploded for 11 points in the 4th after being held to 5 points in the previous three quarters combined.
"I thought we were pretty sloppy early on," said assistant coach Michael Henderson. Henderson was acting head coach with Steve Lane on leave. Henderson added, "We were very fortunate in the 4th period; we outscored them 17-5 in the 4th period; and we're fortunate because we applied the kind of pressure we need to apply and therefore we upped the tempo."
The Titans got off to a fast start to open the game with a steal and easy lay up from sophomore Sclyler Boykin. Anthony Primavera tied the score at two with a jumper on the next Warrior possession. North would push ahead on two Nate Hale free throws, a Zach Waterhouse basket would tie the score at 4. North would push in front again, this time with free throws from sophomore Alonzo Linton and again Winnacunnet would counter.
With the score now tied a 6, Linton found himself open from beyond the arch and drilled a three pointer, 9-6 North. A crucial point in the early going happened next. After an errant pass sailed over his head, Nate Hale punched the ball letting out some frustration and was called for a technical. Primavera hit both free throws and with seconds left in the quarter Freddy Shaake gave Winnacunnet their first lead of the night. At the end of the first, 10-9 Warriors.
The second quarter was a back and forth battle with 7 lead changes. Another steal by Boykin gave North the led back 11-10 as he fed the ball to Sam McCarthy underneath. Primavera put Winnacunnet back in front seconds later, swooping through the defense. Alonzo Linton played pick and roll with Boykin, scoring the lay-in and getting fouled although he would miss the free throw. A rebound and basket by Waterhouse marked the 4th lead change in the first 2:30 minutes of the quarter.
Alonzo Linton pushed North out in front getting the home town bounce on his jump shot as it danced about the rim and in. That was part of a mini 7-0 run with Linton scoring all 7 points for the Titans. He hit his second 3-pointer of the night and knocked down another shot gaining inside position on his defender. Winnacunnet bounced back and outscored North 10-1 for the remainder of the half. Tyler Aversano, Michael Lewis, Liam Viviano and Logan Keene all scored in the run for the Warriors. At half time, Winnacunnet: 26, Nashua North: 21.
Nashua North surged in the beginning of the 3rd quarter taking the lead after an 8-2 run. Linton continued to impress, scoring 6 points in the opening minutes. He went up for a dunk to try an cap the run with an exclamation point, but settled for another home down bounce as he jammed the ball off the rim and in. 29-28 North.
A 3-pointer from Waterhouse ended the Titan run putting Winnacunnet in front, 31-28. Four consecutive points from Logan Keene pushed the lead to 6. Linton halved the deficit with his 3rd 3-pointer of the contest. Liam Viviano got a wild shot to fall as he drove to the basket and got fouled hard. He picked himself up off the floor and sank the and-1. 40-32 Warriors. A big effort play from Michael Lewis got Nashua North their final points of the 3rd quarter. Lewis battled two defenders, grabbing back-to-back offensive rebounds and finally put in a shot off glass. With less than a minute to play in the 3rd Waterhouse splashed home a three put the Warriors up 9 heading into the 4th, 43-34.
Cue the comeback music! Nashua North never quit in this game. Eight minutes is an eternity in high school basketball and when shots start falling in bunches the momentum can quickly turn. Winnacunnet worked some extra passes into their opening possessions of the 4th but only came away with 2 points, North surged again this time with Nate Hale leading the charge.
"We need to feed off of Nate's scoring. We need to feed of Alonzo's scoring," said coach Henderson. Feed they did.
Hale hit two free throws, followed by a basket from Boykin.Then after two lengthy possession came up empty for Winnacunnet Hale splashed in a 3 to get his team within 4 points. Jordan Buckmire scooped up a rebound and scored cutting the North deficit to 2 points. After Liam Viviano went 1-of-2 at the line it was more offense from Hale. He hit a jumper to pull North within one and then seconds later stole the ball from Viviano and jammed it home with an emphatic dunk. With 1:57 remaining North now leads 47-46.
Viviano had a chance to put the Warriors ahead from the line, but he missed both free throws. With less than a minute to go Sclyler Boykin was at the stripe for a 1-and-1. He hit both free throws pushing the North lead to three. Viviano hit two free throws of his own at the other end, 49-48 North. Nate Hale knocked down two from the stripe to give North a 51-48 lead with 26 second left.
Winnacunnet had time and three times hoisted a tying 3-point attempt, but all three times they bounced out. With half a second remaining North had to simply inbound the ball to seal the victory. McCarthy lofted in the direction of Boykin and when the ball hit the court the final buzzer sounded. It was an gritty comeback for a Nashua North team that improves to 5-1 on the NHIAA season. Final score, Nashua North: 51, Winnacunnet: 48.
Sophomore Alonzo Linton led all scorers with 23 points. Nate Hale scored 16 for the Titans, 11 of which came in the 4th quarter comeback. Liam Viviano led the Warriors with 14 points. His teammate Zach Water house finished with 10 points.
From Nashua, New Hampshire; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook