Boys’ basketball: Coe-Brown close to where it wants to be, gearing up for playoff run


Monitor staff

Published: 02-27-2023 8:18 AM

Dave Smith and the Bears still feel the sting of last year’s 43-42 loss to Laconia in the Division II playoffs preliminary round. As often is the case with close losses in big games, that defeat has remained front of mind as Coe-Brown gears up for another playoff run this season.

At 13-5, the Bears find themselves in stronger positioning than last season when they were 9-9 entering the postseason. As a result, they’ll likely have an easier first-round opponent, but that doesn’t mean much to Smith. Perfecting the fundamentals – making free throws, great defense, cutting down on turnovers – remains the underlying bedrock to any success.

“We’re almost at the point we want to be,” he said. “Obviously we want to be as good as we can be at the end. We’ve had some great games down the stretch that have tested us in a good way. … Like any of the teams at this point, (we’re) feeling that we’re up for the challenge and excited to have the opportunity to do it.”

One of those games came on Feb. 20 against Pembroke (16-2), a 71-68 overtime loss for the Bears at home.

Despite the defeat, the performance served as proof that Coe-Brown can match up with D-II’s best come playoff time.

“We certainly had our opportunities in regulation and also in overtime,” Smith said of the loss. “We were right in it for the full night.”

If a playoff run is in the cards, seniors Hugh Hamilton and Tommy Flanagan and junior Connor Bagnell will likely play major roles. Hamilton turned in 25 points in that loss to Pembroke; Flanagan had 15; Bagnell added 14.

Though the Bears won’t have to beat a Pembroke-caliber team right off the bat – they’re currently projected to face Kennett (9-9) – they know they’ll eventually have to pull off an upset to contend for a championship and replace the agony of that Laconia loss with the thrill of playoff success. 

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“I think we know what we could’ve done and should’ve done and would like to have done,” Smith said referring to the Laconia game.

On Tuesday night, his team will have a chance to write a new script.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to participate and looking forward to doing our very best.”