"We got off to a slow start," Veazey said on Monday, after having a day to think about the game. Campbell had throttled Gilford's offense by employing a "diamond plus one" defense – a four-man zone with the fifth player assigned exclusively to shut down Josh Joyce, the Golden Eagles' leading scorer. Veazey said his team wasn't "completely surprised" by the defensive look, and had in fact spent a day of practice preparing for such. However, solving an anticipated problem at practice is different than facing the real thing in a game, the Eagles found out. "It took us half a game to figure out what we wanted to do."
The Eagles, who came into the game as the fourth seed in the tournament and favored over the fifth-seeded Cougars, went into halftime looking at a nine-point deficit. By that point, Veazey said, his offense had found a way to find shots and the Eagles defense allowed the team to pull within one by the end of three and had tied the game early in the fourth.
As is always tempting after a close loss, Veazey looked back at missed opportunities that could have swung the decision in his favor. A missed open layup, a couple of uncontested but unsuccessful three-point attempts by an otherwise sure shooter, free throw attempts that bounced off the rim, Gilford was unable to assert command of the game. Making Gilford's mis-steps all the more glaring was Campbell senior guard Max Gouveia, who scored 21 points in the game. Many of those points came from the free-throw line, as Veazey said his players had trouble defending Gouveia's drives. "We put him on the line way too much."
Regrets aside, Veazey said there were several aspects of the game the Eagles can be proud of. "We adjusted well, our defense for the most part was pretty good." Veazey saw great performances from seniors Sam Prescott and David Sykie, who led the team's offensive production. He also liked what he saw from younger players, such as Rich Edson, Cam Partridge and Jack Athanas. Max Troiano, a sophomore, "has really stepped up for us," said Veazey. Joyce is also a sophomore, as is Kaleb Orton, who has grown into a powerful post player.
Although this season ended abruptly for Gilford, Veazey noted that he's only losing three seniors this year. "Everyone else is back. We had a very competitive JV team, the future is bright for this program."
"It's a nice group of kids, things look pretty good," he continued, explaining that the players exhibit certain intangible qualities that mark a winning team. "The chemistry is good, that's always important. They played well together."
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 22:07
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At the start of the fourth quarter, Belmont trailed by five, 32-27. With hot-shooting Bret Spaulding in the midst of a 19-point game, the Red Raiders needed only a couple of opportunities to take the lead and perhaps move on to the quarter-final round. It wasn't to be, though. "Some of those bounces didn't go the right way," said Hamilton.
Spaulding started the game hot, hitting two three-point shots early in the first quarter, helping his team end the first quarter with a 14-12 lead. Gilford muscled its way back on top halfway through the second, thanks in part to Kaleb Orton, whose post defense forced a Belmont travel. A half-minute later, Orton collected a strong rebound, which he put back for two of the 13 points he'd have in the night, giving Gilford a 17-16 edge. Though tenuous, the lead would prove lasting. The score favored the Eagles at the half, 23-18.
Belmont threatened in the third, coming within three points after another Spaulding three-pointer with 4:45 left in the quarter, answering a three sank in the previous possession by Gilford's Sam Prescott. But Orton again put up a determined effort, scoring with a layup with 3:40 left in the third, then a hard-driving basket with just under two minutes left. In the fourth, Gilford showed poise and took home the win. Josh Joyce, who would end the night as Gilford's leading scorer, helped secure the result by scoring half of his 18 points in the final quarter. Orton, with 13, was the second-highest scorer for Gilford.
"I think we lost some steam down the stretch," said Hamilton, adding, "I'm proud of the guys and where we've come."
Gilford coach Chip Veazey said Belmont gave his team a good run. "It was really a tough game, Belmont's a tough team, we knew it was going to be a battle." He praised Orton's performance, whose rebounds and baskets came at pivotal points in the game, as well as Joyce, whose fourth-quarter production "gave us a bit of breathing room." There were other players on the roster whose roles in the game didn't translate into score sheet statistics. The pestering defense of Matt Troiano, who scored eight, disrupted Belmont's perimeter play, and Cam Partridge, held scoreless, earned his coach's praise by limiting Spaulding's influence. "Cam made him work," said Veazey.
Gilford moves on the quarter-final round and will host fifth-seeded Campbell on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The winner of that game will face either Mascoma Valley Regional or the top-seeded Berlin in the semi-final round, held Tuesday night at Southern New Hampshire University.
Last Updated on Friday, 01 March 2013 04:16
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 23:04