Tag: Laconia

As Chance would have it, Bobcats win at the buzzer

By KJ Cardinal

Chance Twomey’s putback as time expired gave Plymouth a thrilling 61-59 overtime victory over visiting Laconia on Wednesday night.

This rivalry match-up was an instant classic from start to finish. A battle between two one-loss Division II teams that was a game of runs in the first half and later featured multiple lead changes in the waining moments of regulation and overtime.

The host Bobcats were poised from the start as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead and later led by as many seven, 15-8, in the first quarter of play. That was the largest bulge of the game for either team all night.

Laconia responded with a 12-7 run of their own to take a 20-15 lead with 5:30 to go in the half. Plymouth then reeled off a 10-0 surge to lead 25-20 with just over two minutes to go in the 2nd. Of course, the Sachems closed out the opening 16 minutes of play with a 5-0 run to knot the game at 25-25 at intermission.

The 2nd half would be a grind-out affair. Laconia twice led by as many as six in the 3rd quarter, but the Bobcats battled back to close the gap to one, 37-36, heading to the final frame of regulation. The 4th featured three ties and three lead changes and culminated with some late dramatics to force overtime.

Plymouth trailed by three, 53-50, with just under a minute to play in the 4th. Back-to-back scores by Dylan Webster and Luke Legacy just 30 seconds apart gave Plymouth a 54-53 lead with 28 tickets left in regulation. Laconia’s Keaton Beck was fouled with seven seconds to go and went to the line to shoot two. The senior missed the first free throw attempt and connected on the second to tie the game at 54-54. Webster had a contested look at a deep three as time expired in regulation that was just short.

The first three minutes of OT were scoreless, but the final two minutes of action featured one tie and an improbable five lead changes.

Beck went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe to give Laconia a 55-54 lead with 1:51 left. Twomey then made two freebies of his own on the ensuing possession to push Plymouth ahead, 56-55.

With 1:16 to play, Beck scored and was fouled, but couldn’t complete the three-point play. Laconia retook the lead 57-56.

Just 13 seconds later, Twomey buried a big-time three to give the Bobcats a 59-57 lead with just over a minute to play. The Sachems continued to ride their big man as Beck made a tough lay up with 11 seconds to go, tying the game at 59-59.

Plymouth’s Johnny Flaherty took the ensuing inbounds and raced the length of the floor. A rainbow skip pass by Flaherty found Turner Oldenberg whose jumper hit front iron and caromed to the middle of the key. Twomey scooped it up with 0.9 on the clock and the south paw quickly flipped it up and in to beat the buzzer and give the Bobcats the wild win.

Twomey scored all seven of Plymouth’s points in overtime as he led all scorers with 18 on the evening. Webster chipped in with 13 and Flaherty and Legacy also added 10 apiece.

Beck paced the Sachems with 14 points, all coming in the second half and overtime. Tristan Parker, Matthew Robinson and Carson Tucker each score 10 points as well.

With the win, Plymouth moves to 5-1 on the season and sits in fourth in the D-II standings. Laconia falls to 5-2 in defeat.

Check out the full photo gallery by John Scott Sherburne…

CCA makes D-II statement with 23-point win over Laconia

CONCORD – The Concord Christian girls made a statement in Division II on Monday night with a dominant 61-38 victory over visiting Laconia.

The Kingsmen are back-to-back state champions, having won the D-IV crown in 2022 and the D-III title a season ago. It appears their sights are set on making a run in D-II after the big win over the 2023 D-II semifinalist Sachems.

It was a back-and-forth affair in the opening minutes before CCA got dialed in and executed well on both ends of the court. Kayden Rioux poured in six first-half threes to pace the Kingsmen to a 13-point lead, 33-20, at the break.

The third quarter belonged to Emma Smith and Lilli Carlile as the duo combined for all 19 of the Kingsmen points and blew the game open.

Rioux tallied a game-high 23 points to lead all scorers, while Smith (16) and Carlile (19) both netted double-digits as well.

The Sachems were paced by Macy Swormsted’s 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half, while her running mate Mekhia Burton was plagued by foul trouble and held to just six points on the night.

With the win, the Kingsmen improve to 3-0 on the season, while Laconia falls to 2-1.

Check out photos of the action by KJ Cardinal…

Bow returns to title game with semifinal win over Laconia

KINGSTON – Top-seeded Bow defeated No. 5 Laconia, 42-35, on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the NHIAA Division II Girls Basketball State Tournament at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston. 

The Falcons advance to Sunday’s title game where they will take on No. 2 Kennett at the University of New Hampshire at 1:00 pm. 

Bow got off to a slow start as they trailed 12-9 after one quarter of play, but the Eagles held the Sachems to four points in the second to take a 17-16 lead to the break. 

The second half was hard-fought, but Bow won both quarters and hung on for the seven-point win.

Lyndsey LaPerle pumped in a game-high 16 points to pace Bow, while Juliette Tarsa chipped in with 14 of her own.

Ashlynn Deluca (11 points) and Macy Swormstedt (10) led Laconia in the loss. 

With the win, the Falcons advance to the D-II title game for the second-straight season.

Check out the full photo gallery by our Jill Stevens…

Pelham routs top-seeded Laconia in D-II semis

Fifth-seeded Pelham came out the gates firing and never looked back as they routed No. 1 seed Laconia, 69-31, on Tuesday night in semifinal action of the NHIAA Division II Boys Basketball State Tournament at Sanborn Regional High school. The Pythons advance to the title game where they will take on #2 Pembroke on Sunday at the University of New Hampshire.

Pelham steam-rolled the Sachems right from the jump as the Pythons outscored Laconia 24-6 in the first quarter and later led 38-17 at the half. The Sachems were also held to just two fourth-quarter points as Pelham cruised to a 38-point win.

The Pythons’ Zach James led all scorers with a game-high 34 points, while Dom Herrling added 17 of his own. Kayden Beck netted a team-high 17 points for Laconia. 

Pelham’s James and Herrling caught up with Andy Romike after the game in the latest Romike Report…

Check out the highlights by our own Tim Lee…

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

Aiming High: Laconia boys looking to make history

By Mike Whaley

LACONIA – Kayden Roberts and Keaton Beck like the view from the top. They both know they’ll like it even better if they can be there on the podium accepting the Division II boys basketball state championship plaque on March 12 in Durham.

Roberts and Beck are the main guys for the Laconia High School team that is 17-1 and the top seed in the D-II tournament – a first for the Sachems. Their goal is to do something no other Laconia squad has done, which is to win a state title.

“We’ve dipped our toes in the water,” said Beck, a 6-foot-6 junior forward/center who is averaging 19.6 points per game. “Now it’s time to fully submerge. It’s like game mode.”

Laconia has for sure had a taste of the tournament. When Roberts was a freshman, the Sachems lost on the road at Hollis-Brookline in the final seconds. In 2021, a senior-dominated team with Roberts and Beck providing support advanced to the semis, losing to eventual champion, Lebanon, 58-46. Last year, they won a first-round playoff game over Coe-Brown before No. 1 Souhegan rolled over them in the quarters.

“We got a taste of it a couple years ago,” said Roberts, a 5-7 all-state scoring point guard (21.6 ppg). “Now we really want to be the last one standing and put a banner up for the first time.”

Indeed, while Laconia feels good about its basketball tradition, it doesn’t include a state title (boys or girls). The Sachem boys last made a championship appearance in 1978 (57-46 loss to Pembroke in Class I), one of just two in program history.

“To me, how do you define tradition?” asked coach Steve McDonough, who is in his 12th year as coach. “For me, I teach (mathematics) in the building as well. Just because we don’t have the tradition of being a final four or championship team, there is a lot of tradition of being a Sachem in Laconia. There’s a lot of alumni that are very invested; former coaches that are very invested in keeping tabs on where these kids are.

McDonough added: “Kayden scored his 1,000th point a couple of games ago – one of five Sachem players now in the history of Laconia High School. The amount of alumni that reached out is special – former coaches – even Red Charland who coached Jim Swormstedt to his 1,000 points in (1987). I do think there is tradition. I would say ‘yes’ we don’t have a long tradition of winning in basketball.”

Which is something Roberts, Beck and their Laconia teammates are working hard to change.

The D-II regular season wraps up this week with the tournament set to open on Tuesday with first-round games. Because the Sachems are one of the top two seeds, they will get a bye to the second round. They will host a quarterfinal game on March 3, possibly vs. the Merrimack Valley-Lebanon winner.

Laconia ended the season with some big wins, including a wild one-point victory over Pelham, an 84-67 win over a very good ConVal squad with the division’s leading scorer in Joe Gutwein, and then a gutsy 65-52 decision at Oyster River to sew up the top seed. “I told the guys yesterday when they got off the bus (after the OR win) you have until midnight tonight to be as pumped as you want,” coach McDonough said. “We just did something special. But come tomorrow that doesn’t matter anymore. Today is tomorrow.”

Roberts and Beck feel like the groundwork has been laid to get Laconia to the ultimate level. All the Sachems, for the most part, grew up playing together – from LAYBL (Lou Athanas Youth Basketball League) to middle school to high school.

Roberts highlights how important it was his sophomore year to experience the trip to the semifinals with an experienced group of seniors led by Logan Paronto and DeMarco McKissic, Beck’s older brother. “They showed us what it’s like to win and play at that high level,” Roberts said. 

Now Roberts and Beck wear the leadership mantle, and have worn it well as the Sachems have successfully navigated their regular season to earn the top seed. Along the way they have had some big wins over quality squads, including Manchester West, Coe-Brown, Pelham, ConVal, Kennett, and Lebanon. The one hiccup was a 50-42 loss at Souhegan on Jan. 6.

“That loss hurt us,” Roberts said. “Souhegan is a really tough team. They defend the ball really well and they’ve got a lot of guys who play really hard. They’ve got a deep team. As a program, I know we all feel the same way – we wish we could get that game back.”

“That game kind of shot us down a bit,” Beck said. “We are still looking to go higher; the ceiling isn’t high enough.”

Coach McDonough thinks the Sachems weren’t ready for Souhegan. “They’ve been there before and we haven’t,” he said. “It was a playoff atmosphere in their gym. … They jumped out early on us. We clawed back and had a three- or five-point lead with three minutes to go. Their composure and their experience got them the timely buckets they needed and we reverted to some bad habits. The ball stopped moving and we forced a few shots. The next thing we know we look up and we’re down five when we have to start playing the foul game down the stretch.”

Until Laconia can prove otherwise, McDonough feels Souhegan is the team to beat. “Peter (Pierce) does such a good job of having those kids dialed in and ready to execute in those tight situations,” McDonough said. “They’re the better team. We hope to have the opportunity (to see them in the postseason) because that would mean we’ve won some playoff games. If we’re going to see them again, it’ll be a tremendous test to see if these guys have learned what they need to learn and I’ve taught them what I need to teach. Hopefully I’m right in my assessment that they’ve played with a composure to execute down the stretch that you need when you get to these games.”

Kayden Roberts is at the head of what Laconia does because he is the point guard and a main scorer. He is expected to do a lot. McDonough said the senior’s game has evolved over time. He came in as a freshman, started for a bit, but settled into a role as a contributor off the bench. As a sophomore, he was the primary point guard, while last year he had to score more for a team that struggled on offense.

“This year I challenged him to take the game from last year and be 15-20 percent less selfish and get other guys involved,” McDonough said. “We have a lot of great athletes on this team. We have some good shooters and that will open the floor up for him and Keaton. I think he’s done a phenomenal job with that.”

McDonough has pushed Roberts harder than most of his players because the senior is motivated when you tell him he can’t do something. After his freshman year, McDonough told him he couldn’t shoot. Roberts came back as a sophomore and was the team’s best shooter. After his sophomore year, his coach told him he couldn’t defend. Roberts came back as a junior as a better defender.

“After last year I told him he couldn’t be a playmaker for other people and he couldn’t defend at an elite level and he’s come back this year and he’s probably the most well-rounded player that I’ve had in my time here,” the coach said. “It’s all a testament to instead of him taking what I was offering and looking for a way out, looking for motivation out of it. He’s motivated by those types of things. He wants to prove me wrong and I’m happy to be proven wrong.”

As for Beck, McDonough said, “he’s a double-double off the bus. … To me, Keaton is a dominant force as a big man. He’s a match-up nightmare for most teams in that he can run the floor. He’s athletic. If he needs to put the ball on the floor a little bit, he can. It’s really kind of impossible to body him up with just one body. He’s just massively strong. He rebounds the ball extremely well. He has hands around the hoop that are phenomenal. He does a great job of keeping his hands high and finishing high.”

Beck is referred to as a “cheat code” in practice by his teammates because there are some drills where it’s too easy to just throw the ball over the top to him.

“You get the combo of those two for us as captains and leaders, it’s special,” McDonough said.

It’s what has allowed Laconia to have success. Roberts and Beck know their roles and realize the value of their teammates. “We’ve got a lot of players like Carson Tucker, Rowan Jones, Sam Knowlton, Logan Sanchez,” Roberts said. “They’re all really good basketball players. They play well within our system. They know that me and Keaton are the main guys. They’re really good role players. They get us the ball when they need to. They can also hit the open shots and work the ball around when they need to.”

Junior Carson Tucker is another guard, who can play point to take pressure off Roberts. “He’s an absolutely tremendous all-around athlete,” coach McDonough said, referring to Tucker’s ability as an all-state lacrosse player, who has also played football and soccer. “He usually defends the toughest matchup on the other team. It may be a guard; he may defend a big wing. He can defend any position on the floor because of his strength.

McDonough calls Jones the team’s “Swiss Army Knife” because he doesn’t care about stats. “He cares about winning,” the coach said. “He just goes out there and makes those quality gutsy plays whether it’s taking a charge at an opportune time or getting on the floor for a loose ball to get the energy going.”

Knowlton is a 6-3 senior forward with, according to McDonough, phenomenal footwork and a good sense for the game. “He’s come into his own shooting the ball lately,” his coach said. “We have lots of opportunities for drives and kicks and post touches and kicks when you have players like Kayden and Keaton. He’s been capitalizing there. He’s just another tremendous senior leader for us. … He’s hungry to win and wants to push these guys.

Caden Tucker is a 6-2 sophomore forward and Carson’s younger brother. Off the bench he gives Laconia size and length, shoots the ball really well and has a great sense for the game, according to McDonough.

Sanchez, a 6-2 junior forward, is an all-state quarterback “who learned in football quickly to give the ball to Keaton and get out of the way,” McDonough said. “He does a good job of that in basketball. He plays really good defense for us and has great length around the basket.”

Finn Mousseau is a 5-9 senior, who is the combo guard off the bench if there is foul trouble. He rounds out the rotation of eight that see the lion’s share of the playing time.

Two sophomores who swing up from the JV team and will figure in next year’s conversation are Brady Stevens and Matt Robinson. Senior Alex Marcano is playing high school hoop for the first time. He has an enviable task in practice to challenge and toughen up Beck to make him better.

“It’s been a full-team effort all year,” McDonough said. “It will continue to be for us to have any chance of being successful.”

As for style of play, the Sachems play an uptempo game on offense that relies on what McDonough calls “pace and space.” It’s not necessarily running at all times, but it does rely on keeping the ball and the players moving to maximize flow and rhythm.

On defense, Laconia plays strictly man to man; mostly in the halfcourt, but they will go full court man if need be. “For us in defense, it’s really simple,” McDonough said. “We want to keep guys in front of us. We want to see both (our player and the ball).” 

The second season is here. Laconia is right where it wants to be, riding a 13-game winning streak into the tournament and playing its best basketball. 

Being the No. 1 seed is a program first. There is some belief that the 1955 Class L finalist team was a regional No. 1, but this is the first time that the Sachems are sitting atop the standings across the division going into the tournament.”

“That’s something to be proud of and I think the guys are pumped in all that entails in getting a home playoff game,” coach McDonough said. “I think they also know that that happened yesterday. And really the task at hand now is to go defend home court next Friday night. We now know that there’s a bigger bull’s eye on our back than there has been possibly forever. We relish that opportunity. We’re not going to take it lightly.”

Laconia survives Pelham in D-II showdown

Two of the top teams in Division II locked horns on Monday night and Laconia (14-1) hung on to earn a hard-fought 57-56 over visiting Pelham (14-3).

The Sachems took a nine-point lead to the break, 35-26, but the Pythons responded with an 18-point third quarter to cut the lead to one. Laconia held on in the final stanza to come away with the win.

Kayden Roberts led all scorers with a game-high 26 points for the Sachems, while Keaton Beck (12) and Carson Tucker (11) both added double digits.

Pelham was paced by 24 points from Dom Herrling and 19 from Zach James.

Check out the full gallery by our very own Jill Stevens…

Laconia rolls past Bishop Brady

Keaton Beck (24) and Kayden Roberts (20) combined for 44 points to lead Laconia to a 73-50 victory at Bishop Brady on Wednesday night in Concord.

Cade Weaver (13) and Michael Thresher (10) both netted double-figures for the Giants

The Sachems improve to 13-1 on the season, while Brady falls to 4-10.

Check out highlights by our Tim Lee…

Burton drops 30 to lead Laconia at Plymouth

Sophomore Mekhia Burton poured in a career-high 30 points to lead Laconia past Plymouth, 62-26, on Tuesday night.

Macy Swormstedt (14) and Madeline Mousseau (10) also netted double-figures for the Sachems.

Laconia improves to 5-1 on the season, while the Bobcats drop to 1-5.

Check out the full photo gallery of the action by John-Scott Sherburne…