MANCHESTER - The Central High School boys' basketball team's bid for an undefeated regular season ended in an uncharacteristic flurry of turnovers and forced shots Tuesday night.
Nashua South's zone defense frustrated the Little Green and led the Panthers to a 70-62 win that left the top spot in Division I wide open.
Central (15-1) and city rival Trinity each have one loss, while Nashua South (12-3), Spaulding of Rochester and Memorial all have three losses.
"That was our signature win so far, but we don't want it to be our best win," South coach Nate Mazerolle said.
The Little Green turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 22 points for the Panthers.
"I think that was the state of the game," Central coach Doc Wheeler said, "It seemed like whenever we made a little run, we had a meltdown."
The Little Green struggled with Nashua South's zone defense, going without a field over the final four minutes of the second quarter as they went into the halftime break down 35-24. They got to within four late in the third quarter, but turned the ball over twice, leading to four points by South's Travis Knight (14 points).
Nashua led 57-45 after three quarters and never led the lead get under six in the final quarter.
Tim Preston led Nashua South with 27 points, 18 in the first half.
"I think he hurt us the worst," Wheeler said.
The Panthers sealed the win by making nine of 11 free throws in the final two minutes.
Troy Pelletier led Central with 27, while Brett Hanson and Tyler Kelly had 10 each.
Central went 0-for-4 from the field - including a pair of rejections by South center Jack Preston - and turned the ball over three times to end the first half. The only points the Little Green had were a pair of free throws by Pelletier.
On the other end, Central was struggling to stop Preston. The junior had 18 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer off the dribble to end the first quarter and put the Panthers up 17-14.
In a half where the possessions were long, the defense grinding and the turnovers surprisingly high, Central held South to three points over the first four and half minutes of the second quarter to tie the game at 20-all, but a 3-pointer by David Dunham (15 points) sparked a 7-2 run to put the Panthers back in firstname.lastname@example.org