SALEM — Goffstown High School was in the zone for much of Friday night’s Division I boys’ basketball game against Salem — a 2-3 zone to be exact. That zone made things challenging for the Salem offense, but Goffstown had an even harder time scoring.
The Grizzlies were held to four field goals in the second half, two of which came in the final 18 seconds, and absorbed a 47-44 setback.
Goffstown led 38-37 after a Connor Hujsak basket with 2:35 left, but a Trevor DeMinico 3-pointer on the following possession sparked a 10-0 run that carried Salem to victory. The Grizzlies had a 29-25 lead at halftime, but were held to 15 points in the second half.
“I think defense has been our calling card all year,” Salem coach Rob McLaughlin said. “Hopefully our play on that end of the floor is what sparks us. I think our energy was better in the second half. We didn’t give up as many rebounds or second-chance points.”
Goffstown committed 22 turnovers and and missed seven of its 13 free-throw attempts.
“We know what we did wrong,” Goffstown coach Ryan Cowette said. “It’s a learning experience for us.”
Hujsak scored a game-high 20 points for the Grizzlies, who went away from their man-to-man defense after Salem took an early 8-1 lead.
“We’ve been mixing it up (on defense),” Cowette said. “There are a lot of teams we don’t match up with speed-wise, quickness-wise, so (the playing zone) is a way for us to try and stay in the game — and it worked better than I thought it would.”
Salem, which was coming off a 72-47 loss to Alvirne, improved its Division I record to 11-2. Goffstown fell to 5-7.
DeMinico, who was hit with a technical minutes before he made the 3-pointer that gave Salem a lead it didn’t relinquish, led Salem with 16 points. Forward Kyle Poulin scored 13 and Zack Caraballo finished with 12.
John Kelly and William Kennedy each had six points for Goffstown, but neither scored in the second half.
“I think when they switched to the zone it really slowed us up,” McLaughlin said. “It slowed our game down and may have contributed to our energy being down. We have to play with good energy.”
Although the Grizzlies were held to one field goal and five points in the third quarter, they were within a point entering the fourth (35-34). Salem made seven of its eight free-throw attempts during the late 10-0 run that allowed the Blue Devils to pull away.
“You have to give Salem all the credit,” Cowette said. “They play great defense, they’re long and we have to do a better job handling pressure. All the credit to them.”