Season recap: Hopkinton boys’ basketball reaches D-III semifinals in Matt Miller’s first year, rest of area D-III and D-IV season in review

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-15-2023 11:15 PM

Among all the basketball teams in the Monitor’s coverage area, few were as dynamic as Matt Miller’s Hopkinton boys’ team. They shared the ball, displayed remarkable athleticism and had several players who could take over a game at any moment.

Between Marek Joppa, Will Tanuvasa and Abram Standefer, the Hawks had no shortage of options this season. The Hawks finished the regular season 12-4 and beat Inter-Lakes and Campbell in the playoffs before coming up short against No. 1 Gilford, 62-42, in the D-III semifinals.

“We ran out of steam,” Miller said after the Gilford loss. “I think we’re a team with fantastic athletes everywhere. (Gilford’s) a team with phenomenal athletes everywhere. When we ran out of steam, they were catching another gear and got themselves going.”

Still, it was a remarkably strong first season for Miller. He also loses just three seniors off of this year’s roster, so the Hawks should be right back in contention for a D-III championship next season.

“To get them here and get them that experience as juniors and sophomores is huge for what next year’s gonna be and the year after that and the direction I want to take the program under my coaching and my style,” he said.

“We were right there,” he added. “Now let’s get better, so next time, we are there.”

No. 7 Winnisquam finished just a game behind Hopkinton in the standings. The Bears beat No. 10 Monadnock in the first round and then lost to No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas.

Head coach Kevin Dame led his team to a strong season, despite only having one player taller than 5-foot-10 on his roster. What they lacked in size and length, they made up for in quickness and shooting ability.

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Senior Anthony Boomer, listed at just 5-5, was named first-team all-state by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization (NHBCO) following the season. Boomer was one of five seniors on this year’s team.

Just below Winnisquam, No. 9 Belmont started the season 8-2 but was a bit more inconsistent during the second half of the season, when Tony Martinez’s group went 4-4.

The Red Raiders lost their first-round playoff game against No. 8 Conant, 56-44.

Martinez had eight seniors on this year’s roster, including Sam Reposa, who made the honorable mention list for D-III as determined by the NHBCO. Sophomore Keegan Martinez was also a valuable contributor, averaging nearly a double-double with 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season.

“With this year’s team, I have a senior group that have played together since they were in grade school, and then I have a sophomore group that has played together for a long time,” Tony Martinez said of his team in early January. “I think the biggest thing was getting those two groups to come together as one, to really get them meshing as teammates and everything.”

Nate Camp and the Kearsarge Cougars endured more of a rebuilding year in 2022-23, finishing 4-14, 17th in the division. This came a year after Camp’s team reached the championship game, where it lost to Gilford.

“We told these guys we’ll never stop coaching them,” Camp said after Kearsarge lost to Hopkinton on Jan. 5. “We’re gonna be coaching until the end. (We) definitely have some youth and some kids that are coming along. We believe in them. We know that they can make plays, and you saw some tonight. … We’re starting to figure things out, and they’re playing for each other. It’s a great group to coach; they’re great kids. We just gotta continue to develop.”

The Cougars had six seniors on this year’s team, including guard Josh Holderman, who averaged 9.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this season.

“He helped provide leadership and consistency on defense, as well as being our leading scorer,” Camp told the Monitor. “Each night, he’d guard one of the opponent’s best players, while at the same time find ways to score and rebound for us. Offensively he really developed as the season went on, knifing through the defense to get buckets in the paint off drives or pull-up jumpers.”

Rounding out D-III, Hillsboro-Deering finished the season last in the division at 0-16. Senior Zack Coombs received recognition on the honorable mention list from the NHBCO; Coombs was one of six seniors on the team this season.

On the Division IV side, Concord Christian’s season came to a heartbreaking end after losing, 86-84, in double overtime to No. 6 Holy Family in the semifinals. It was an unsatisfying conclusion for the Kingsmen, who finished the season 19-2 overall.

“I’m really proud of these guys. It’s not the way we wanted to end it, but somebody had to lose it, and unfortunately it was us tonight,” coach Eric Heizer told the Monitor after the loss. “But that group of kids, I love them to death.”

Notably, CCA’s top player Brode Frink – only a sophomore – scored 48 points in that playoff loss and averaged 25 points per game and will be back next season to try to help the program reclaim a championship. Frink was also named the D-IV player of the year by the NHBCO.

No. 10 Pittsfield’s season came to an end when the Panthers lost, 53-37, to Derryfield in the first round. Head coach Jay Darrah’s group wrapped up the year 11-8 and will graduate five seniors from the team. Sophomore Brayden Pelletier received honorable mention by the NHBCO for his play his season.

Finally, Franklin rounds out the D-IV area schools. The Golden Tornadoes reached the playoffs as the No. `7 seed and lost to No. 16 Gorham, 51-35, in the first round to finish the season at 8-11.

However, Franklin only had two seniors on the team, so with most of the roster returning next season, head coach David Bedard will have a chance to continue working with this group in hopes of taking that next step in 2023-24.

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