Sachems defeat Winnisquam Bears, 57-42

Belmont overcomes Gilford in 50-40 clash


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Gilford junior Korey Weston passes the ball behind Belmont senior Dylan Gansert at Gilford High School on Dec. 8.  (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

TILTON — The Laconia Sachems made a statement in their opening game — a  57-42 win Friday at Winnisquam High School — that they’re a team to be reckoned with.

The Sachems, who were 3-15 last year, showed good offensive balance from start to finish. Six players scored in the first quarter and eight players had points by the end of the night.

Sophomore Ryan Chandler finished with a team-high 14 points and five rebounds; Christian Gaspa had 13 points and six boards; junior Ryan Paiva added 10 points and five steals; and junior Kelby Brooker finished with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists.

“We have a very well-rounded and well-balanced team,” Laconia coach Stephen McDonough said. “We have a bunch of kids who can contribute on any given night and it can vary from night to night, depending on the matchups and what schemes teams are throwing at us.”

That balance, selfless offense and poor shooting from the Bears helped the Sachems open a 14-5 lead after the first quarter. Laconia had four assists on its six first-quarter field goals, while Winnisquam shot just 1-for-10 from the floor in the first eight minutes.

The Bears bounced back in the second quarter as their 2-2-1 half-court trap caused havoc.

“That half-court trap has killed us since the word go. We know it’s coming. We know every year it’s coming. Eight years Kevin Dame and I have coached against each other and every year it gets us, no matter what,” McDonough said. “We practiced against it for a half hour every practice, trying to get dialed in for that, and it still caused some fits.”

Winnisquam forced 10 Laconia turnovers in the second quarter, six of those steals from freshman Phil Nichols, who started at point guard in his first varsity game and did not look out of place. The defense led to offense for the Bears, who went on a 13-5 run to take a 24-23 lead with 1:50 left in the frame, after a three-pointer from Kyle Mann, who finished with a game-high 19 points.

Laconia answered with a 7-1 run to take a 30-25 lead into halftime. Even though they were on top, McDonough knew he could get more out of his guys, and he told them so at halftime. “I told them just to be players,” McDonough said. “I’m probably guilty of throwing too much at them, and I think at times they start thinking too much and stop playing. So I just told them to slow it down and play, and by doing that, the game will actually come to you. And I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half. That really propelled us to where we needed to be.”

Gaspa opened the third with a three-pointer with an assist from Chandler. After a Winnisquam miss, Chandler hit a three assisted by Brooker, who then had an offensive rebound putback to keep the run going. Paiva capped the 10-0 run with a steal and coast-to-coast layup that pushed the Sachems’ lead to 40-25 early in the third.

Winnisquam got a big boost off the bench from Derek DeSousa, who scored all seven of his points in the third quarter. DeSousa hit a three in the final minute of the third to trim Laconia’s lead to 48-37 going into the final quarter.

That was as close as the Bears would get, as Laconia locked down defensively in the fourth. Winnisquam’s Gunnar Harmon (seven points, five rebounds) dropped in a layup with 5:05 left on the clock, and that was the last shot the Bears made for the game. Not only did the Sachems pick up their pressure on the ball and in the passing lanes, but they were also playing solid team defense.

Laconia, 1-0, will be host to Gilford (0-1) today at 6 p.m., while Winnisquam (0-1) will play at Newfound at 6:30 p.m.



Belmont 50, Gilford 40

Key players: Belmont – Matt Pluskis (14 points, 5 rebounds), Matt Thurber (12 points, 8 rebounds), Dylan Gansert (10 points, 13 rebounds), Aiden Rupp (7 points, 5 rebounds), Nate Sottak (6 steals)

Highlights/key moments: Belmont overcame its shooting struggles in the first quarter and outscored Gilford 16-10 in the second for a 22-20 lead at halftime. Sottak, a freshman, stepped in as point guard and was a spark off the bench for the Raiders, grabbing six of the team’s eight steals.

Coach’s quote: “We finished the quarters well. Just a really good win for this group.” – Belmont’s Jim Cilley

Records: Belmont 1-0; Gilford 0-1

Belmont is host to Prospect Mountain at 6 p.m. today while Gilford is at Laconia at 6 p.m.



Laconia 56, Winnisquam 9

Key players: Laconia – Becca Howe (13 points), Sydney Stevens (8 points, 7 rebounds), Meghan Gaspa (12 rebounds, 7 steals)

Highlights/key moments: Laconia put the pressure on Winnisquam early with 20 points scored in the first quarter.

Coach’s quote: “Our intensity on the defensive end created great opportunities on our offensive end tonight.” – Laconia’s Jeff Greeley

Records: Laconia 1-0; Winnisquam 0-3

Laconia plays at Gilford today at 6 p.m.. while Winnisquam plays host to Newfound at 6 p.m.

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Belmont junior Griffin Embree looks to pass the ball to teammate junior Cam Magerer as Gilford junior Greg Madore attempts to block at Gilford High School on Dec. 8.  (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford junior Korey Weston grabs a rebound during Friday's game against Belmont at Gilford High School.  (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Golden Eagles rally for first win


Becca Howe looks for a pass during a scrimmage with Newfound at Laconia High School.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)


BELMONT — Following Monday’s narrow three-point loss Newfound, the Gilford High girls basketball team earned its first win of the season in comeback fashion over Belmont, 52-50.

The Golden Eagles (1-2) trailed by six entering the fourth quarter, 44-38. Gilford flipped its deficit into a six-point lead with 2:30 to play.

The Eagles were led by Shelby Coke with 22 points.

Belmont (1-2) had a chance to tie it at the buzzer but a six-foot jump shot bounced off the back of the rim.

“It’s always frustrating (to lose a close game), but we learned a lot from this,” seventh-year Belmont coach Mark Dawalga said. “We played well.”

Makenzie Donovan led Belmont with 15 points, including three from three-point range. Julianna Estremera and Morgan Hall also reached double figures with 12 points apiece. Senior guard Chloe Sottak turned in six points and Elaina Hoey scored four. Lizzie Fleming was strong on defense for the Raiders.

The Laconia Sachems, who two years ago lost to an undefeated Gilford team in the Division III championship game, are now playing Division II. Their coach discusses their prospects in the preview which follows.

Division: II

Coach: Jeff Greeley (8th year)

Last year: 5-13, did not make tournament

Returning starters: Hannah Dow, jr.; Caitlin Beattie, jr.; Devon Mello, sr.; Becca Howe, sr.; Meghan Gaspa, so.; Delia Cormier, sr.; Sydney Stevens, jr.; Lindsey Drouin, sr.

Top newcomers: Sophie George, fr.; Isabella Daly, fr.

Outlook: After missing the tournament in their first season in Division II, the Sachems reload with eight returners led by four strong seniors. The goal is to make it back to the D-II playoffs for the first time since 2010, but it will take contributions from every player on a nightly basis to accomplish it. “The seniors and returners have done an outstanding job leading our freshmen newcomers throughout this preseason,” Greeley said.

“As a coaching staff, we look forward to competing hard for 32 minutes a night.”

There’s no shortage of athletes on the team, highlighted by perennial All-State lacrosse player Becca Howe, but with only 10 players on the roster, health will be a primary concern for Laconia.

Teams to beat: Bow, Lebanon, Portsmouth, Hollis/Brookline, Pelham, Pembroke

Division III boys basketball previews

LACONIA — Boys Division III basketball got underway in the Lakes Region last night with Laconia — 3-15 last year — opening its season at Winnisquam, which went 9-10 last year.

Inter-Lakes, 15-5 last year, played at Sanborn; Newfound, 1-15 last year, opened at Newport; and Belmont, 16-4 last year, played at Gilford, which went 11-8 last year.

Coaches from area teams have previewed the upcoming season.


Division: III

Coach: Jim Cilley (4th year)

Last year: 16-4, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Matt Pluskis, sr., G, 6-1; Dylan Gansert, sr., F, 6-2; Tom Pare, sr., C, 6-4

Top newcomers: Aidan Rupp, jr., F, 6-3; Matt Thurber, jr., C, 6-4; Caleb Burke, jr., G, 6-0; Nate Sottak, fr., G, 5-9

Outlook: The Red Raiders lost a lot from last year’s quarterfinal team, including D-III First Team pick Trevor Hunt. But Belmont won’t use roster turnover as an excuse.

“We have to find our identity on both ends of the floor, but I really like this group,” Cilley said. “I think they are dynamic and can score from a lot of spots on the floor. I think come March most teams will not want to see us on their side of the bracket.”

Teams to beat: Berlin, Somersworth, Hopkinton, Monadnock, Campbell, Conant


Division: III

Coach: Mike Donnell (2nd year)

Last year: 9-10, lost in first round

Returning starters: Jayden Torres, sr., G

Top newcomers: R.J. Smith, sr., F

Outlook: The Golden Tornadoes were dealt a blow in the offseason, losing 6-foot-4 T.J. Laramie to Tommy John surgery, but have a high scorer in Torres (28 points away from his 1,000th career point) and speed from newcomer Smith. Add in senior guard Oliver Lemay, junior forwards Ben Lafrance, Harrison Clark and C.J. Gaslin, and Donnell expects Franklin to be competitive, with the goal to return to the D-III tournament.

Teams to beat: Berlin, Hopkinton, Somersworth


Division: III

Coach: Chip Veazey (32nd year)

Last year: 11-8, lost in first round

Returning starters: David Hart, Greg Madore

Top newcomers: Adrian Siravo, Logan Bell, and Logan Hughes

Outlook: The Golden Eagles figure to have a balanced offensive attack with regular contributions coming from multiple spots. Veazey expects the defense to improve as his team gains more understanding and experience when it comes to things like closeouts, rotations and communication.

“Our willingness to work to get better has been good, and this will continue to be a key to our continued improvement,” Veazey said.

Teams to beat: “The Lakes Region is always competitive with strong rivalries and upsets will happen all season depending on who gets hot, avoids foul trouble, and of course, injuries,” Veazey said. “Berlin and Somersworth seem to be getting the most talk so far.”


Division: III

Coach: Mike Rathgeber (8th season)

Last year: 15-5, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Eli Swanson, so., capt., 6-3; Davis Jollimore, sr., capt., 5-11

Top newcomers: Quinn Taylor, jr., 5-10; Jaden Lara, sr., 6-2

Outlook: There will be a lot of new bodies in varsity uniforms for the Lakers, but Rathgeber believes the rebuilding process can be a quick one. “The upcoming players have had successful JV years, so we’re hopeful we can have a quick learning curve and maintain what we accomplished the last three seasons,” Rathgeber said.

Teams to beat: Berlin, Somersworth


Division: III

Coach: Steve McDonough (7th year)

Last year: 3-15, did not make tournament

Returning starters: Christian Gaspa, sr., 5-9; Jakob Steele, jr., 6-2; Ryan Paiva, jr., 6-3; Ryan Chandler, so., 6-1

Top newcomers: Kelby Brooker, jr., 5-10; Ryan Dee, soph., 5-8; Noah Dickey, jr., 6-1; Caleb Petell, jr., 6-0; Matt Lefebvre, sr., 5-11; Joey Lennon, jr., 6-0; Ryan Hebert, soph., 5-8; Ryan Chiasson, jr., 5-8

Outlook: Last year’s three-win season meant that plenty of the young Sachems got plenty of playing time, and McDonough believes that experience will pay off this season. “Several players have stepped up in the preseason and looked really good in our scrimmages,” McDonough said. “We hope to develop as the year progresses and be a team that can compete on any given night.”

Teams to beat: “Berlin, Somersworth, Gilford, Hopkinton and whoever we play next,” McDonough said.


Division: III

Coach: Tom Boudreau (2nd season)

Last year: 1-17, did not make tournament

Top returning players: Cam Anderson, sr., G, 5-10; A.J. Muse, sr., G, 6-4; James Shokal, sr., F, 6-2; Mike Doan, sr., C, 5-11; Colby Miles, jr., F, 6-2; Mason Dalphonse, jr., F, 6-1

Top newcomers: Stine Williams, jr., G, 5-10; Justin Shokal, jr., G, 5-7; Tyler Boulanger, fr., F, 6-2; Matt Plummer, fr., F, 6-1

Outlook: The Bears have won just two games in the last three seasons, but they had 33 kids show up for tryouts, so the program is healthy. The team has looked good in preseason at times, but has also made some mistakes that could cost them games once the season starts.

“With a little luck and an injury-free season, I am hoping for these kids to get to six or seven wins and get into the playoffs,” Boudreau said.

Teams to beat: Berlin, Somersworth


Division: III

Coach: Kevin Dame (7th year)

Last year: 9-11, lost in second round

Returning starters: Avery Hutchinson, sr., 6-0; Kyle Mann, jr., 5-11

Top newcomers: Angelo Glover, jr., 6-0; Evan Judkins, jr., 6-0; Gunnar Horman, so., 6-1; Phil Nichols, fr., 5-7; Garret Mango, fr., 5-7

Outlook: The Bears lost three starters from last year’s team who each played close to 30 minutes a game. Winnisquam also lacks height, but the Bears will try to make up for that by playing team defense and looking for offense in transition.

“Hopefully we can play solid defense and use our team speed to get up and down the court. The players have been working hard in the early season, and we will look to improve every day.”

Teams to beat: Berlin, Somersworth, Gilford, Campbell

Winnisquam’s DeBlasie, Goodwin share player of year honors

TILTON — Two of  the star players for Winnisquam Regional High School’s volleyball team share honors of being named player of the year in Division III.

Setter Talia DeBlasie, a junior, who crossed the 1,000-assist threshold in her career this year, and outside hitter Shannon Goodwin, also a junior, who  recorded her 500th varsity kill during the season, were named co-winners of the player of the year award.

Winnisquam Coach Mike Livernois, who has spent 22 years as the Bears’ head coach and recorded his 250th win as coach early in the season, also was the repeat choice as coach of the year in Division III.

Kevin Archibald, who coached Winnisquam’s junior varsity team, was named JV coach of the year.

The  Bears, who avenged their only loss of the season with a 3-1 win over Inter-Lakes in the Division III championship game last month, finished with an 18-1 record.

Livernois said it was a mixture of experience and learning from their mistakes in the first match with Inter-Lakes that put the Bears over the top for their third championship in eight years.

The Bears and the Lakers, who also finished with an 18-1 season record, dominated the Division III All-State team.

Both Goodwin and DeBlasie were named to the team, as were Jessalyn Brown and Emma Wheeler of Inter-Lakes.

Inter-Lakes Junior tri-captain Jessalyn Brown is the team's setter and she recorded her 1,000th assist in a match with Prospect Mountain late in the season. Wheeler, a sophomore, is a middle hitter who can handle all six defensive rotations.

Also named to the first team was Ashley Dukette of Newfound Regional High School, a  junior who also is a standout in basketball and last season was named Division III basketball player of the year.

Named to the second team were Aubrey St. Onge and Madisyn Skeats of Winnisquam, Jordan Durand of Inter-Lakes and Gabriella d’Empaire-Poirier of Prospect Mountain.

Amber Lemay and  Jordan LaVallee of Belmont were honorable mentions.