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NHIAA Boys' Basketball: Goffstown boys can't keep up with Lebanon

Special to the Union Leader

February 17. 2017 12:44AM

GOFFSTOWN — Lebanon’s near-perfect first-half play in a 76-35 win over Goffstown on Thursday night was so dominant it rendered coaches of both teams basically speechless at intermission.

The Raiders broke an early 5-5 tie with a 20-0 run, shutting out the Grizzlies for the last 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the first quarter. Lebanon shut out Goffstown for the final 6:20 of the second quarter, while tallying 28 points en route to its seventh straight victory and an 12-1 record.

The visiting team’s man-to-man defense was a blur of maroon motion, generating transition baskets off forced turnovers and quick outlet passes following defensive rebounds. The offense had production line efficiency. Quick passes found players open after coming off screens.

At one point in the first quarter, Ryan Milliken (26 points and five treys) and Chris Naulty (11 points, three treys) alternated swishing 3-pointers from the right corner on four consecutive possessions. Naulty and KJ Matte each knocked down one from downtown on the team’s final two possessions of the half, making the score 50-13.

“They are a good team. It was hard to say anything at the half,” said Goffstown coach Mike Gasper after his club dropped to 7-7. “Lebanon is a good team. They put on a shooting clinic. I don’t think they missed a 3-pointer. So you can’t yell. We talked about saving some pride and going out to win the second half.”

The Grizzlies kept at it. Sophomore guard Colby Putnam scored seven points on some innovative drives to the hoop. Senior Sam Heidenreich (eight points) sank two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, which the Grizzlies won 13-11.

“We’ve been inconsistent all year,” said Gasper. The club recently lost by one point on the road against undefeated Milford, but couldn’t match Lebanon’s play Thursday night. Who could? “They made it tough. Milliken is some kind of shooter.”

“It was probably the best half we’ve played all season. It was crazy,” said Milliken, a senior averaging about 16 points a game. “Our defense was tough. We passed well. A lot of guys on this team can play well. We’re having a lot of fun.”

Graham Chickering contributed 15 points and forced Goffstown into several turnovers. Matt Eylander clogged the paint and grabbed six rebounds. Matte, last year’s Division II Player of the Year, scored five points and three assists in limited time while wearing a brace on his right foot. The Bowdoin College-bound guard, a 1,000-point scorer, missed 12 games with a broken foot.

“Yeah, what do you say other than to keep playing hard in the second half,” said Kieth Matte, Lebanon’s coach and KJ’s father. It was the second straight game he’d been tongue tied at intermission. Lebanon owned a 52-36 lead against Kingswood on Tuesday night.

“We had some good looks and we knocked them down,” said Matte. “I liked the way the team played in the second half as well. With all the snow and games we haven’t been able to practice since last Wednesday. The kids are saying, ‘Coach, what’s the point.’ They have been playing well of late. It’s fun to watch.”

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