Pelham downs Coe-Brown in a semifinal overtime thriller

By: KJ Cardinal

DURHAM – In a game you didn’t want to see end and one that you hated to see either team lose, top-seeded Pelham needed overtime to defeat No. 4 Coe-Brown, 59-56, in semifinal action of the NHIAA Division II Boys Basketball State Tournament on Tuesday night at Oyster River High School in Durham.

The Pythons advance to the title game where they will take on No. 2 Hanover on Sunday at UNH. The game time is still to be determined.

The Bears were ready to play as head coach Dave Smith saw his squad come out the gates quickly with 17 1st-quarter points and take a two-point lead after the opening eight minutes of action. The Pythons responded in the 2nd and took a one-point lead to the break.

Neither team could get separation from the other throughout this one as the largest lead either team held was a mere six points.

CBNA won the 3rd quarter by two points to take one-point lead to the final frame, 41-40.

The 4th wasn’t for the faint of heart. Pelham’s Zach James connected on a three-pointer with 2:48 left to give the Pythons a 51-47 lead. Coe-Brown wasted no time in responding as James McKane’s only basket of the game came just 26 seconds later to cut the lead to two, 51-49, with 2:22 left in regulation.

CBNA’s Connor Bagnell stole an inbounds pass with 38 seconds to go to give the Bears the ball with a chance to tie the game. After nearly turning the ball over to start the possession and getting an offensive rebound off a Quinn Salter miss, Coe-Brown called a timeout with 10 ticks remaining.

The Bears’ Ryan Kouchoukos drove the lane, beating James off the dribble, and was fouled from behind as his layup banked in to tie the game at 51-51 with 4.7 seconds left to play. Kouchoukos would miss the ensuing free throw and a Peter Hemmerdinger’s desperation three at the buzzer came up short for Pelham and this game was headed to overtime.

The extra session belonged to Hemmerdinger as he netted six points in overtime and opened up the scoring with a three-pointer in front of the Pelham bench with 3:09 left to play. He connected on a floater on the following possession to push Pelham’s lead to four, 56-52.

A pair of Bagnell free throws with just over two minutes to play cut the Pelham lead to two, 56-54. The Python offense would kill more than a minute off the clock before Adrian Villanueva was fouled with 50.7 seconds remaining. Villanueva made the first of two free throws to push Pelham’s lead to three, 57-54.

James and Hemmerdinger would each make a free throw down the stretch to put the game out of reach for the Bears.

The Pythons were paced by 17 points from James, while Hemmerdinger (14), Dom Herrling (13) and Connor Travis (10) all tallied double-digits as well. The Bears were led by 17 points apiece from Salter and Jack Matson and 16 from Bagnell.

Check out the full highlights by Tim Lee…

Oyster River was painted red and black last night as Coe-Brown showed up and showed out to support the Bears down the road in Durham. CBNA may not have come away with the victory, but it certainly wasn’t because of a lack of support or school spirit…

Check out the full photo gallery of the action by Jeff Criss of Perfect Photos…