Boys’ basketball: Coe-Brown steps on the gas early, pulls away late for playoff win over Bow

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-02-2023 12:42 AM

NORTHWOOD – No. 6 Coe-Brown (14-5) started fast and ended fast in Wednesday night’s Division II first round playoff matchup against No. 11 Bow (9-10). The Bears opened up a 23-8 lead in the first quarter en route to a 70-50 win over a shorthanded Falcons team.

Coe-Brown looked to push the pace in transition early, racing up the floor after turnovers or missed shots and quickly capitalized on several easy layups and jump shots. 

To their credit, the Falcons fought back, outscoring the Bears 22-12 in the second half, trailing by just five at the halftime break. After Bow cut its deficit to 39-36 early in the third, Coe-Brown proceeded to pull away, leading by eight at the end of the quarter and ultimately winning by 20.

“Very proud of the kids,” Bears’ head coach Dave Smith said. “Bow played strong. We got a little space there early, and they came right back hard and tested us quite well to their credit. But I was very proud of the kids. They did what they had to do.”

Coe-Brown received a remarkably balanced scoring output: senior Hugh Hamilton led the way with 24 points, senior Brady Kouchoukos had 13, junior Connor Bagnell added 11 and senior Nate Ford scored 10. Five other players also cracked the score sheet for the Bears.

Hampered by injuries much of the year, the Falcons have had to rely on freshmen Brendan O’Keeffe and Jake Reardon, both major contributors offensively against the Bears. O’Keeffe had 12 and Reardon added 10, complementing 10-point performances from seniors Caleb Gazaway and Mark Folsom.

Still, it was a bitter way to end the year for a Bow team that rallied down the stretch of the regular season, winning three of its last four games, to secure a playoff spot. After all the hard work, the injuries and youth caught up to them against a talented Bears team. But there wasn’t much for head coach Scott Drapeau to feel disappointed about.

“I would go to war with those guys any day of the week,” he said. “I respect those kids. I had a ton of fun with them. It’s tough to deal with injuries, but it’s also tough to go from seven seniors to six freshmen, and we did it. We made the playoffs. No one expected us to win nine games. We won nine games. That’s good for them.”

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While Bow’s season comes to an end, Coe-Brown will start preparing for a second home playoff game, thanks to No. 14 Oyster River’s (6-13) 48-45 upset win over No. 3 Souhegan (16-2). The Bears faced the Bobcats on Feb. 17 and beat them soundly, 65-34.

But Smith knows Oyster River will be riding the high of their first round win as he prepares his team to face their rival once again.

“We just have to prepare for Oyster River,” he said. “Obviously, they’re very excited I’m sure. We just watched the end of their game; it was a huge win for them. Huge win for us also. It’s just so great that we got another game with our fans. The last Oyster River game we had here was a packed house. I can only imagine what it’ll be Friday night.” 

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