Boys’ basketball: Coe-Brown starts fast, reemerges late to hold off Kingswood at home

Coe-Brown senior Quinn Salter dives for a loose ball during the third quarter of Wednesday’s game against Kingswood. Salter led the Bears with 14 points.

Coe-Brown senior Quinn Salter dives for a loose ball during the third quarter of Wednesday’s game against Kingswood. Salter led the Bears with 14 points. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Coe-Brown junior Matt Flanagan drives to the basket during Wednesday's win over Kingswood.

Coe-Brown junior Matt Flanagan drives to the basket during Wednesday's win over Kingswood. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Coe-Brown’s Ryan Kouchoukos drives to the basket for a layup during the Bears' 56-39 win over Kingswood on Wednesday.

Coe-Brown’s Ryan Kouchoukos drives to the basket for a layup during the Bears' 56-39 win over Kingswood on Wednesday. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Bears’ junior Jack Matson drives to the basket for a layup against Kingswood on Jan. 3, 2024.

Bears’ junior Jack Matson drives to the basket for a layup against Kingswood on Jan. 3, 2024. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 01-03-2024 10:13 PM

Modified: 01-04-2024 12:10 AM


NORTHWOOD – Coe-Brown boys’ basketball might be returning just one starter from last season, but one thing’s remained consistent: the team’s ability to start fast.

Boosted so often last season by strong first quarters, the Bears continued that trend at home on Wednesday against Kingswood in their 56-39 victory. 

Coe-Brown (3-1) outscored the Knights (2-3), 20-13, in the first quarter, carried a 33-20 lead to halftime and a 41-30 lead into the fourth.

Bears’ senior Quinn Salter led the team with 14 points. Junior Ryan Kouchoukos was the only other Bear in double figures with 12, and the usually steady senior Connor Bagnell was held to just eight points.

Here are three takeaways from Coe-Brown’s win:

Bears came prepared for Kingswood’s zone

Throughout much of the first quarter, the Knights sat in a 2-3 zone defense. Coe-Brown knew exactly how to handle it, moving the ball around and taking advantage of open spaces on the floor. 

Salter scored 10 of his 14 points in those first eight minutes, helping galvanize the team’s hot start.

“They’d been playing a lot of zone lately,” Bears head coach Dave Smith said of Kingswood. “We figured we may see that. We were able to get some good penetrations, good gap coverage offensively.”

Despite slow start, Bagnell knocks down two key 3s late

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Bagnell, who last year was named to the All-State Second Team by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization, had just two points through the first three quarters. He couldn’t quite knock down his shots, and some frustration seemed to set in.

But in the fourth quarter with the Bears ahead 45-39 with roughly four minutes remaining, Bagnell sunk two 3-pointers over the next two minutes to seal the win.

Smith noted Bagnell’s persistence and his contributions elsewhere on the floor in helping put him in position to connect on those key shots.

“It’s what you gotta do,” Smith said. “Obviously (Kingswood’s) going to focus on him, and he’s gotta run through it and do all his other things that he does well, rebound, he’s gotta play good defense and hopefully eventually weather through that storm, and he did, so it was good.”

Focus turns to improving offensive rhythm

There’s a fine line between playing fast and rushing on offense. Too often on Wednesday, Smith said, he saw his team doing the latter. It’s an area of improvement he hopes will facilitate better, more consistent offense from his group.

“We don’t have to take a quick shot,” Smith said. “We like to play fast, but we like to maintain patience once we get the ball. We had a little trouble with that. There’s a difference between hurrying to get the ball up the floor and then being patient with the ball. That’s a hard thing to get. We need to work better on that. If we have possession of the ball, then we’re going to be better off because that’s less time we gotta play defense.”

With a more inexperienced team playing just its fourth game of the regular season, though, Smith’s confident they’ll continue to grasp the system.

“Obviously we only have one returning starter, and the other kids have filled in very well, but it’s going to take a little bit of time to mold that total team experience,” he said. “But they’re doing a good job, and we’re going to be tested again relatively quickly Friday at Hanover (4-1) because Hanover’s been playing really well.”