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NHIAA Boys' Basketball: Free throws the difference for West

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 16. 2017 12:51AM
West's Marion Ross passes against Goffstown's Carter Chouinard, right, at West High School in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — You didn’t need a high basketball IQ to spot the difference in Friday night’s Division II opener between Manchester West and Goffstown. The Blue Knights made most of their free-throw attempts, and the Grizzlies did not.

West was 14 of 20 from the free-throw line, including 6 for 6 in the game’s final minute, and came away with a 66-58 victory.

“I was glad at the end when we talked about slowing down, which is not something we typically will do, they were able to slow down, pull the ball out and make the free throws at the end,” first-year West coach Justin Gorham said. “That’s what was able to win the game. Take the fouls, and make the free throws. And we did that.”

Goffstown missed 16 of its 29 free-throw attempts.

“We missed too many good looks inside,” Goffstown coach Mike Gasper said. “If you don’t convert them against a good team it comes back to haunt you. And 16 (missed) free throws is ridiculously poor. We work on them (free throws) a lot in situations where they’ve run or they’ve worked hard and now they’re breathing — so we work on them in game situations. I can’t explain it.”

Despite its poor night from the line, Goffstown led by one after three quarters, but was held to seven points over the final eight minutes. It was 56-56 with 4:27 to play, but West finished the game with a 10-2 run.

West’s Marion Ross and Gob Gob each tossed in a game-high 16 points. Ross made five of West’s 10 3-pointers.

“We will rely on that (making 3-pointers) sometimes, but getting to the basket at this point is what we need to do because we don’t have that many shooters right now,” Gorham said. “In the fourth quarter they might have gotten a little tired. We weren’t really tired I don’t think.”

The Grizzlies had three players score in double figures: forward Teagan Collins had 15, guard Connor Hujsak tossed in 11 and guard Mathieu Eberhardt finished with 10.

An 11-0 run handed Goffstown a 32-26 lead with 2:21 to play in the second quarter, but West pulled within two points, 36-34, at halftime. Goffstown’s eight-point advantage was the largest lead either team had in the game.

“It comes down to you’re on the road against a solid team and if you’re lead is one when it could have been eight you’re climbing up a hill,” Gasper said. “You know they’re going to get the energy, the adrenaline because the crowd’s behind them.

“It’s hard to put it on one thing, but if we made free throws ...”

rbrown@unionleader.com


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