"Ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, fever," said coach Jay Londer, listing the ailments that swept through his roster, beginning in January and continuing through Saturday, when the Bulldogs were knocked out of the NHIAA Division III tournament in a quarter-final matchup with Kennett. "It was a rollercoaster, we battled with adversity all season with sickness," he said.
Londer doesn't want to make excuses, though. After all, every team faces internal challenges every season. Indeed, the Bulldogs were often able to overcome their difficulty, fighting through their symptoms to put together a 12-6 season, earning the team the fourth seed in the tournament and a home playoff game. The Bulldogs couldn't keep up with the fifth-seeded Kennett, though, who came out strong, took a quick lead and held Bulldogs to a brief two-goal rally in the final period. The score was 5-2 when the final buzzer sounded. Kennett went on to face top-seeded Berlin in the semi-final round, played last night, when Kennett found itself on the losing side of a 5-2 decision. Berlin will face John Stark-Hopkinton on Saturday for the Division III title.
The recent season was Londer's fourth as coach of the Bulldogs. Twice his team has played its way into the semi-finals, twice the team's season has ended in the quarter-final round. Not yet has he taken a team to the final round, though he senses that he's getting closer to that level. And, despite an early departure this year from the playoffs, he saw evidence of that growth this year.
"It was a good season, we had young talent," he said. The team will graduate five seniors this year: Brandon Heimlich, Tevin Mitchell, Max Desmarais, Jeremy Wilson and the team's leading goal-scorer, Jeremy D'Amour. The departure of those players will allow Londer to see what his younger players can do, something he got a preview of this year due to injury.
Desmarais, a defenseman, broke his ankle in the final game of the regular season, forcing Londer to put freshman Nikolai Fernandez in the lineup against a hot Kennett team. Fernadez's performance tuned into an advanced audition for a spot in next year's starting line. "He looked great," said Londer. "He's a solid defenseman, he'll play a huge role for us next year."
With the loss of D'Amour, Londer loses a constant scoring threat, the kind of player that can skate past several defenders and beat the goalie at the other end of the ice. Coming up behind Jeremy, though, is his younger brother Andrew, a sophomore this year. "He's not his brother, they're two different players," said Londer. "Andrew's more of a playmaker, while Jeremy's a pure scorer." Andrew's year was something of a quantum leap in his development, said Londer, describing his early season play as "night and day" compared with how he played late in the season. "Andrew's going to be the real deal."
Another player that Londer's excited to have returning is goalie Calvin Davis, who will be a senior next year. "Calvin is, in my opinion, one of the best goalies in the league," said Londer. The team played this year without a bonafide reserve goalie, and Londer's hoping that a freshman will show up next year interested in tending the net. Otherwise, he'll be scrambling the season after next to convert a player to the goalkeeper position.
For the coming season, Londer foresees a team built on a young but solid defensive line and a dependable goalie. "We're not going to have that explosive scoring. I think we'll be a well-rounded team," he said.
"With the young team, I want to continue to push pace, to play at a high level every single day. Buckle down and work hard and push every to to be prepared to flip that switch when we need it. I think we get closer and closer every year."
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 March 2013 22:07
The Rams found themselves trailing at halftime for the second consecutive game. Behind 22-19, Tilton was led by postgraduate and co-captain Abby Iannotti (North Bennington, Vt.) with seven points and five rebounds. Ianotti finished the game with 15 points and 12 rebounds for her eleventh double-double of the season.
Tilton came out of the locker room storming, led by senior co-captain Alex Cohen (Nashua, N.H.) and the tournament MVP, junior Maureen Taggart (Mill River, Vt.) Cohen finished with 11 points, including two key threes to start a 9-0 run and give the Rams the momentum they needed to finish. Taggart, who hit three, three-point shots in the second, finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
"At this point I've had no better moment in my coaching career," said fourth-year head coach Tara Brisson. "I'm unbelievably proud of the toughness and determination that this squad showed on a daily basis. After graduating last year's starting lineup, I was unsure of who would step-up this season. And while this group may have been doubted early on, they consistently rose to every challenge this year. Besides being NEPSAC champions and talented basketball players, they are just outstanding kids. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish."
Tilton, who had been led throughout its 24-3 season by a balanced scoring attack, also received contributions from sophomore Giulia Orlando (Georgetown, Mass.) (10 points, six rebounds, 5 assists), and junior Jillian Fama (Lynnfield, Mass.) (5 points, 5 rebounds). Juniors Kelsey Brown (Barrington, N.H.) and Cori Marshall (Toronto, Canada) added valuable minutes off the bench for Tilton.
The Rams finish the season at 24-3, as Lakes Region Champions for the fourth consecutive season and as NEPSAC Class B Champions. They will lose six seniors to graduation: Ianotti, Cochen, four-year team member Mackenzie Gaudet (Concord, N.H.), four-year team member Taylor Cavanaugh (Tilton, N.H.), Olivia Abry (Boston, Mass.) and Sarah Morrissette (Laconia, N.H.)
Tilton will return three starters from this year's championship team, who will be eying a fifth consecutive trip to the championship game next year.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 23:07
The week started with a game against Hudson. It was all offense in this one, as the young Sachems posted a 72-68 victory. Jake Filgate dropped a season high 30 points while the team's big men, Carter Doherty (14 points) and Drew Muzzey (season high 17 points) came up big in their supporting roles.
Next game on the schedule was against Oyster River. It was another big offensive output by the Sachems, as they scored a 60-48 win. This time it was Doherty who went for his season high of 31 points to go with 10 rebounds. Nick Drouin added 9 points and Filgate had 8 points and 8 boards.
A sharp shooting Jaffrey/Rindge team was next. Unfortunately the Sachems could not stop the Jaffrey snipers as they lost 43-38. Drew Muzzey led his team with 12 points and Ryan McCrea came off the bench to chip in his season high 10 points.
The loss put the Sachems in the loser's bracket where they met Oyster River again. Hungry for another shot at Jaffrey/Rindge, the Sachems left no doubt as they posted a 55-33 victory. Doherty dropped 15 points to go with 8 boards, Drouin and Muzzey had 7 points each, and Dalibor Kresovic scored 6 off the bench. Filgate led the defensive effort with 6 steals.
They wanted Jaffrey and they got Jaffrey in the championship. Trailing by 8 at the half, Filgate took matters into his own hands, and led his team with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Coming off the bench and helping to shut down the Jaffrey team was Riley Roy with 4 steals and Drew Muzzey with 5 blocked
shots. The game came right down to the wire as the Sachems held on for a thrilling 35-33 victory. Garnering awards for Laconia were Doherty, all tournament player, and Filgate, tournament MVP. "It was a great way to wrap up our season. They kids never gave up. They came to play and we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish. I am extremely proud of the season these kids had. They definitely over achieved this year." said coach Rod Roy.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 22:56
The fifth-seeded Kennett will next face top-seeded Berlin in the semi-final round. That game will be held on Wednesday night at the Everett Arena in Concord.
Kennett's first goal, scored by Nick Ansaldi, came less than two minutes into the first period. Anthony LaRusso gave the Eagles a two-goal lead with about nine minutes left in the first. Ansaldi scored his second and Kennett's third on a breakaway at the beginning of the second period. With 1:59 remaining in the second, Bryan Baker put Kennett up by four.
The Bulldogs resorted to pulling the goalkeeper halfway through the final period, a strategy which paid off as Belmont-Gilford's Dylan Treamer put his team on the board with 3:17 remaining. Tom Kuntz pulled the Bulldogs within two with 1:43 left in the game. The resurging Bulldogs fell short, though. Kennett earned the final goal, when a clearing shot from behind Kennett's blue line outpaced Belmont-Gilford's racing defenders on its way toward an empty net.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 March 2013 22:49