Campbell boys rally, beat Conant on Morgan's 3-pointer
JAFFREY - After his team stuck around all game, refusing to crack under the constant pressure that the Conant High boys' basketball team is known for, a wide-open shot to win the game seemed like a walk in the park for Campbell's Jacob Morgan.
The senior guard coolly knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing with 10 seconds remaining to lift the Cougars of Litchfield to an improbable 65-63 win in front of an overflow crowd at Pratt Auditorium.
The Cougars (8-1), coming off their first loss of the season against Farmington, came back from 15 points down late in the third quarter to hand the Orioles (7-1) their first loss of the season.
Morgan gave Campbell a chance when he stripped the ball at the end with just over 30 seconds left. Instead of rushing a shot, the Cougars worked the ball around Conant's zone - a zone the Orioles reluctantly went to because of foul trouble late in the game - and found Morgan wide open.
Morgan said Campbell coach John Langlois told his team to be patient against the zone and look for a good shot.
"The first option is always to drive, but if have the shot, stick it," Morgan said after finishing with seven points.
He stuck it.
"Jacob was so open," Langlois said. "I had total confidence in him."
The Orioles were playing their first game without senior captain Jake Carlson (broken elbow), but they still forced the pace and had the Cougars reeling, quickly pushing a 32-26 halftime lead into double-digits early in the third quarter.
A drive by Devin Springfield (23 points) put the Orioles ahead 47-32 with two minutes left in the quarter. "But we didn't crack," Langlois said.
Conant coach Eric Saucier said his team was too undisciplined on defense and it came back to haunt them as the Orioles got into foul trouble, forcing Saucier to go to a zone.
Campbell guards Max Gouveia (18) and Jesiah Wade (10) combined for 15 of Campbell's 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Conant's Eli Hodgson (14) had six points in the third quarter and came up with several big plays in the second half when Conant looked like it would hold on.
The Orioles put the Cougars to the test immediately, scoring off the opening tip and then stealing the ensuing inbounds to go up 4-0 less than 30 seconds into the game.
Credit Campbell for not buckling - a sign of things to come. Gouveia found a seam in the Conant defense, penetrating and passing off to Jackson Musco for three straight baskets. The quarter ended tied at 14-all, well behind pace for a Conant team that was averaging 73 points a game.
Conant had won its first seven games by an average margin of 35.7 points.
The Orioles put constant pressure on teams, forcing a frenetic pace most teams are not used, but it's a tempo they thrive in. That pressure started paying off in the second quarter as ball-hawking junior guard Rover O'Brien (16 points - all in the first half) came up with a couple of steals at the top of the defense, one leading to a dunk that put Conant up 26-20.
Cambell 65, Conant 63
Campbell: Max Gouveia 6-6-18; Justin DiBenedetto 1-0-2; Jacob Morgan 2-2-7; JesiahWade 4-1-9; Jackson Musco 4-0-8; Zachary Bergeron 3-0-6; Nicholas Freson 4-6-14. Totals: 24-15-65
Three-pointers: Wade, Morgan
Conant: Kyle Carland 2-0-4; Nick Panagiotes 1-0-2; Devin Springfield 7-9-23; Robert O'Brien 7-0-16; Eli Hodgson 7-0-14; Josh LeBlanc 2-0-4. Totals: 26-9-63
Three-pointers: O'Brien 2
Campbell (8-1) 14-12-17-22-65
Conant (7-1) 14-18-17-14-63