NHIAA Div. II Boys' Basketball Final: Cavs too strong for BobcatsBy ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 18. 2018 1:36AM
DURHAM - Hollis/Brookline fans weren't celebrating at the end of the first half, but you could argue that the first two quarters is when Saturday's Division II boys' basketball championship game was decided.
Top-seeded Hollis/Brookline held seventh-seeded Oyster River to one field goal in the first quarter, led by 11 points at halftime and claimed the Division II title with a wire-to-wire 56-40 victory at the University of New Hampshire's Lundholm Gymnasium.
The Cavaliers (19-2) didn't allow the Bobcats (15-7) to seize the momentum in the second half, as Oyster River was never closer than seven points in the third quarter and trailed by nine, 39-30, entering the fourth.
"We definitely had a really good first half," senior forward Matt Simco said. "It definitely set the tone going into the second half that we had a lead. It helped us calm down."
Simco had a monster game for the Cavaliers. He finished with a team-high 17 points and a game-high 19 rebounds. At times Hollis/Brookline's best offense seemed to be a missed shot and a put back by Simco. Eight of his rebounds came at the offensive end.
"I think they went 1 for 14 in the first quarter on their first shot, and he would just clean it up," Oyster River coach Lorne Lucas said. "They didn't do anything we didn't expect them to do, it was just (difficult) defending that size and strength. We're not huge. We're athletic."
Hollis/Brookline had a 50-19 edge in rebounding and a 30-14 advantage in points in the paint.
"The whole year we've been bigger than everybody else," Simco said. "We knew we had to rebound to win. In the second half we really buckled down and made sure we could get every board we could."
Lucas said he wanted to increase the game's tempo by pressing more, but was concerned with his team's depth and having to substitute for some of his top offensive players.
"And I thought they did an excellent job executing against the press when we ran it," he said. "We were getting every opportunity that I ever wanted (offensively) in the first quarter. We just couldn't finish, and that obviously would have made a big difference in everything we would have done from there on out."
Grant Snyder scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, who won their first state championship since 2005. Hollis/Brookline received nine points from both Jonathan Brackett and Scott VanCoughnett, and seven from Matthew Dowling. Dowling also had seven rebounds.
Hollis/Brookline held Oyster River without a field goal for the final 5:48 of the first quarter and led 8-3 after eight minutes. The Cavaliers had a 24-13 lead at the half.
"We felt it was our game to lose at that point (at halftime)," Dowling said. "Our coach (Cole Etten) is really big on playing to win, not playing to not lose - if that makes sense. That's what he kept telling us."
Joe Morrell scored a game-high 20 points for Oyster River, which finished 1 for 11 in 3-point attempts. The Bobcats were 17 for 53 from the field (32.1 percent) for the game.
Oyster River's Brennen Oxford tossed in 11 points, Cameron Thibodeau scored seven and Kyle Landrigan finished with two.
"I've been dreaming about this since I was a little kid," Simco said. "To win it all is surreal."