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NHIAA D-I Boys' Hoop Final: Dover's Cantwell gets high marks on boards

By MICHAEL ABELSON
Special to the Union Leader

March 15. 2018 11:14PM

Dover's John Cantwell shoots the hoop over Exeter's Kevin Henry during NHIAA Division I Boys Basketball Semifinals held at UNH in Durham on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

There’s an old superstition in basketball that the person who makes the last shot in warmups will have the best game.

As the people kept flowing into the gym, and his teammates worked toward the pregame huddle, Dover senior John Cantwell drove the lane and floated in a layup in the final moments before his Green Wave took on Exeter in the first Division I boys’ basketball semifinal on Wednesday night.

Superstition or not, Cantwell, a 6-foot-3 forward, was an anchor for a Green Wave team in the midst of a Cinderella tournament run. Against the Blue Hawks, Cantwell did everything and he saved his best for the game’s final minute.

With the Green Wave hanging on by a point, Exeter star Cody Morissette drove the lane and floated a shot toward the hoop. Cantwell rose up and delivered a block so strong it was heard more than it was seen. On the ensuing possession, he rebounded a miss and made a free throw on the other end to give the Wave the 68-66 lead they would hold until the final horn.

Cantwell finished the game with five points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, four assists, and a pair of steals. His rebound, blocks and assists were all game highs.

“I don’t call myself a scorer,” Cantwell said. “By no means am I going to go out there and score 30 points. I pride myself on being able to do everything, especially boards. I love to get boards.”

Cantwell’s senior leadership was needed in a classic game that featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes. The Green Wave came back from a six-point deficit after three quarters to pick up the victory.

“Devin (Cady) comes up to me, we’ve been playing since kindergarten, and said ‘We’re not going out losing,’” Cantwell said. “Our last game is Saturday. We were not going out tonight.”

The Green Wave’s season has been a roller coaster. It featured both a three-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak. Dover finished the regular season with an 8-10 record and entered the 13-team tournament field as the No. 11 seed.

Dating back to their victory over Salem in the season finale, the Green Wave have won four games in a row by a total of 12 points.

“We’re finally starting to believe in ourselves,” Cantwell said. “In the regular season, we would go on some runs, be up and then we would lose and be back down for a while. Finally, starting senior night, we got on a roll. We started really playing defense.”


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