Coe-Brown battles for tough Division-II victory

By Nathaniel Ford

NORTHWOOD – Coe-Brown fought hard for a 56-43 victory over the visiting Kennett Eagles on Wednesday night.

The Bears led by as many as 14 points in the contest and were able to fend off a second half comeback from their opponents.

“Overall, we really needed this win to fully swing momentum back to our side. We had a good win over a really tough Kennett team,” said junior Jack Matson. 

Kennett was 4-1 coming into tonight, and these two teams always seem to play in close games. Both teams play physically and focus on strong defense, which usually results in a tough matchup.

Coe-Brown came out strong with an early 10-2 lead in the first quarter, forcing a Kennett timeout. All five starters were contributing early, and it looked like the Bears could run away with it. 

The Eagles managed to keep the game within reach due to strong play to close the quarter by sophomore Allen Noung. He came in off the bench and scored 7 points, which was a big reason the score was only 22-11 entering the second. 

For the rest of the game, Kennett was able to play strong defense and really limit Coe-Brown’s offensive output after this first quarter explosion.

“We got a lot of shots off, and we didn’t finish some that we should have,” said Coe-Brown coach David Smith. 

The second quarter was extremely even, with both teams going on small runs of their own. Junior Daven Bailey led the way for Kennett, knocking down two three-pointers and scoring 8 points in the quarter.

Coe-Brown had many contributors offensively, and they were led by Quinn Salter, who had 6 points at timely moments in the quarter. Neither team could get an edge, and Coe-Brown led 34-25 entering halftime.

The Eagles, who started the game in a 2-3 zone defense, played man-to-man the entire second half. This helped them immensely in the third quarter, where they started to spark a big comeback. 

They knocked down four shots from beyond the arc and clawed their way back into the game. Behind their shooting, they ended up evening the score at 39-39 in the quarter. Regardless of the game all square for the first time since 2-2, the Bears did not panic.

“We executed some of our offense well at critical times tonight,” said Smith. 

This was one of those times, as Matson got a quick bucket to take the lead back, and after a defensive stop, Ryan Kouchoukos attacked the rim and extended the lead even more. Following a late Kennett basket, the Bears led by just two points entering the final quarter.

Winning close games is something that separates great teams from good teams, and Coe-Brown proved tonight they can stay composed in these situations.

“Fourth quarter defensive effort was big. We were able to hold them to two points in the final quarter,” said Smith.

The Bears stepped up in a massive way as a unit on the defensive end, which is what secured their victory. Their offense was led by a spectacular stretch of three baskets from Matson, including an and-one to cap it off.

Coe-Brown rallied together in the fourth and capped off a hard-fought victory 56-43. A 13-point game does not show how tight this matchup was. Going into the final frame, it was a one possession game, and either team could have come out on top.

“Our team is special because every player on our team is capable of having a great game on any given night,” said Matson.

This was on display tonight in a game where Connor Bagnell, an All-State selection last season, was held to 10 points, and his unselfish play helped his teammates step up in big ways.

Ryan Kouchoukos came up massive in every way tonight. The junior point guard finished with 9 points, 10 assists, and 8 steals, showing he can contribute at a high level in every aspect a point guard needs to.

Quinn Salter has been consistent all season for the Bears, and he put in another strong performance tonight with 14 points and 6 rebounds. James McKane does lots of dirty work for the team, and the guard brought energy tonight with 5 rebounds and 3 steals of his own.

The star of the game for Coe-Brown was Jack Matson. The forward played all 32 minutes and recorded a double-double. He finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. 

Kennett was led by 16 points from Daven Bailey and 12 points from Allen Noung. The Eagles fall to 4-2 and look to bounce back in a matchup this Friday against Division III Berlin. 

Coe-Brown improves to 5-2 on the season and are now on a two-game winning streak. They look to stay hot in a big matchup this Friday on the road against 5-2 Plymouth.