Tag: Somersworth

PERFECTLY IMPERFECT: Hoop titles still cause a stir (part 2)

(The last in a 2-part series. Read Part 1)

By Mike Whaley


As Coach Mike Lee noted, the addition of Mike Funk and Carl Whitten completed the formula. Funk was a big, strong kid, who could rebound, handle the ball and shoot. “He was tenacious,” Lee said. “He wasn’t afraid.”

Lee described Whitten as a flat out athlete. “He could run forever at clock speed. He could handle the ball. He could shoot with both hands,” the coach said. “He was an outstanding defender.”

It was a reunion of players who had played together growing up, even Casey Howard who was the eldest. “I grew up with those kids and hung out with them,” Howard said. “We have played together since we were eight years old. We played all the time on Water Street – a hoop on Steve Mosher’s barn. We were in the 500 Club. We played right through.”

Paul Boulay was a teammate of Funk’s in the 500, and remembers epic battles with Howard when they were 11. “It was like Walton and Russell,” he recalled. “He’d score 40 and I’d score 35. My coach was Hattie (Danny Reynolds). ‘Pass the effing ball, Boulay. Good job, play some defense.’”

Boulay would counter with “Casey’s scoring every time, coach. I’ve got to score, too.” It was an eye-opening experience to have coaches like the Moultons and the Reynolds, who pushed you and held you accountable at an early age. 

Mosher recalls in junior high playing a game in Alton with coach Lee officiating. “He said this is the team that could put up a banner.”

Coach Mike Lee gets a victory ride from Mike Funk and Steve Mosher after Farmington HS won the 1984 Class M hoop championship in Plymouth over Conant. [Foster’s Daily Democrat file photo]

They were about to find out.

The Tigers sliced through their competition, winning all three tournament games by an average of 19 points. In each game, Farmington used third-quarter surges to take control.

The quarterfinal match was with Winnsiquam, coached by Farmington-native Walt Garland and starring Tim Nash, a dangerous scorer. Nash had set a tournament record (that still stands) by making 23 foul shots in a first-round win.

The Tigers led 34-25 at the half, but used a predictable third-quarter burst to widen the margin to 52-36 en route to a 68-49 win. Howard led the way with 25 points, while Funk, Whitten and Tim Mucher had 10 apiece.

“ML was friendly with Butch Garland,” Mucher recalled. “I knew the Garlands. They lived right down the street. Not that we had to give that extra effort, but you didn’t want to lose to your friend. I think that got the ball rolling.”

In the semis, they took on Mascoma, a bigger team that Howard said was supposed to stay with the Tigers. Farmington led 37-25 at the break, and put the game away with another third-quarter run to go up 57-39. They won, 77-61, led by Howard’s 32 points, 18 from Whitten and 11 from Funk.

“Casey was Casey,” said Funk. “I’d put him up against anybody, I don’t care who they were. I’d put him up against anybody in the state. … We had tunnel vision. All we were thinking is we had a couple of speed bumps and we’re in the finals.”

While this team had speed and quickness that could run teams off the floor, it also had Howard if they were forced to play a halfcourt game. “I didn’t do any ball handling or outside shooting,” Howard said. “I didn’t do any of that. I just rebounded. The more they shot, the more points I got. If you miss it, I’m going to get it. That’s basically how I played.”

Conant was next in the championship. The stage was set.

It was a dream matchup between the two best teams in the class. Plymouth State’s Foley Gymnasium was packed as both sides were filled with fans from the respective towns with similar team colors – a sea of black and orange undulated from top to bottom and side to side.

“I remember coming out on the court for warmups, I had goosebumps. There were so many people,” Funk said. “It was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think.”

Mosher remembers one thing that happened during the pregame. One of the Conant players liked to shake everyone’s hand to psyche himself up. “If you look back at the film, a lot of us didn’t shake his hand. It kind of threw him off.”

Because they were playing on a bigger college court at Plymouth, the Tigers abandoned their full court press after the quarters. Lee knew the press could stifle teams on the smaller confines of the Farmington gym, but not so in Plymouth. The Tigers prepped for the bigger floor, noted Mosher, pushing in the bleachers in Farmington so they could match the width of the Plymouth court.

One big change the Tigers made was learning a 1-3-1 matchup zone defense that they had not used all season. “Our goal was to have them step out three feet beyond where they liked to be,” Lee said. “That was our No. 1 goal.”

Tim Mucher pulls up for a jumper versus Conant in the 1984 title game. [Courtesy photo]

Because Howard had played so well in the first two playoff games (57 points), Conant focused their defense on him. It was a mistake. The Tigers were able to play more of a full court game. “Tim Mucher and Steve and Carl ran right through Conant,” Lee said. “They didn’t have a guard that could play with our guards. That’s what it really came down to.”

One thing that grated Mucher was when Conant scored, their players would wag their fingers like they were No. 1. “I think they were a little cocky, always holding their fingers up,” he said. “We used to say you’re not No. 1 until you cut the nets down.”

Howard scored just seven points, but that opened things up for Funk. He took advantage of the extra attention paid to Howard to score a game-high 30 points. Whitten added 21. The Tigers led 31-26 at the half, but yet another big third quarter (19-9), sparked by 15 Funk points, gave them all the breathing room they needed going into the fourth quarter up 15, 50-35. “We were pretty famous for coming out strong in the second half all season,” Funk said. “During the season teams that could hang with us in the first half – Newmarket, St. Thomas – we’d come out in the second half and put up 30 points. The next thing you know we’ve demoralized them. They’re giving up.”

Tim Mucher stood on the rim in celebration of the 1984 Class M State Championship [Courtesy photo]

The final score was 76-54 in the Tigers’ favor. A championship envisioned by many of the players in junior high was a reality – the first since the legendary 1970 team won the school’s inaugural crown. To celebrate, Mucher climbed up on one rim, stood up and exalted. He claimed he got the idea from Reggie Lewis. When the late Boston Celtics star was in college, he had climbed up and sat on the rim after Northeastern won the North Atlantic Conference playoff championship. Mucher was actually a trendsetter and possibly clairvoyant. Lewis became famous for that rim-seating celebration two years later in 1986, 

Mucher thought to himself at the time, “no way am I sitting. I’m standing on the thing.” He can also remember, laughing, tournament director Peter Cofran pleading over the public address system, “Please show some class Farmington and get off the rim.”

Afterwards, the town showed its appreciation. Funk remembers the bus getting to the Alton Traffic Circle where carloads of fans began to be seen along the road to Farmington. “The horns started blaring,” Funk said. “People were saying ‘look out the window, look out the window.’”

Funk said at first the cars were sporadic along the side of Route 11, but after the first quarter mile it was constant all the way to Farmington. “They were holding up signs, laying on their horns,” he said. “It  was a slow bus ride.”

The bus slowly rolling down Central Street, recalled Funk. People came out of their houses and were flashing their porch lights. “We got to the high school,” Funk said. “Talk about standing room only. We went in there and it was just a madhouse. People shaking your hand.”

Funk remembers all the free pizza from Vinnie’s Pizza, but one thing that still resonates is looking out at the crowd and seeing men like Paul Moulton and Danny Reynolds, who had coached them all growing up. “I was so glad I could get a chance to say thanks to Paul Moulton and Danny Reynolds from that great 1970 team.”


Somersworth guard Kyle Hodsdon, right, handles the ball against Pembroke Academy in the 1984 Class I championship in Durham. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]
Somersworth forward Steve Cartier, left, looks to outlet the ball. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

Somersworth felt pretty good about itself going into the tournament. The past was the past. “Back then we really weren’t worried about anybody,” Kyle Hodsdon said. “We were only concerned about ourselves. That was the confidence the Somersworth kids had back then in every sport.”

The team hung its hat on its Big Three (Boulay, Steve Cartier and Hodsdon) and its depth. Cartier had experience and had developed into a dependable scorer. The linchpins were Boulay and Hodsdon. “Paul was not interested in glory,” Francoeur said. “He was so strong. He was a quick jumper. He wanted to own the boards in the fourth quarter.”

With Hodsdon at the point, the ‘Toppers had a top-notch ball handler and scorer. Because of him, teams rarely pressed Somersworth. “He allowed us not to have to worry about things,” Boulay said. “He was as good a high school floor general as there was (in NH).”

The Hilltoppers took care of business in the first two games. They were in control the whole way to beat Fall Mountain in the quarters, 72-59, led by 26 from Hodsdon and 23 from Cartier (13 rebounds). In the semis against a bigger ConVal team, Hodsdon (30 points) and Cartier (21) combined for 51 to lead the team to a hard-fought 61-55 victory.

Somersworth’s Paul Boulay, left, and Steve Pepin defend a ConVal player during the 1984 Class I semifinals. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

Steve Pepin was a dependable starter who could defend and rebound. He had been cut from the varsity as a junior and decided not to play with the JV team. He came back as a senior ready to play. He recalls before the Fall Mountain game thinking there were springs on the UNH floor. “I was getting up higher than I ever could,” he said. “It took a few minutes into the game for that nervousness to go away. After that first game, the rest of the games were just a game. We were settled in.” Up 31-22 at the half, the Hilltoppers, who had to shake off the rust from an 11-day layoff, used a 23-6 blitz in the third quarter to put the game away.

Pepin remembers thinking that he was more afraid of ConVal than Pembroke. “ConVal had me nervous because we weren’t big,” he said. “Paul was 6-2 and Cartier was 6-3, and they were (much) bigger. We found a way to keep them out of the box.”

ConVal had 6-4 Dan LaFleur and 6-6 Todd Burgess, who helped the Cougars claim a 39-19 edge on the boards. They also combined for 35 points to stay within striking distance until the 1:07 mark when two Hodsdon free throws made it a five-point game, 56-51. Still, the Cougars never let Somersworth feel like it could breathe easy.

It was on to the state final against Pembroke, a team they had beaten by a single point during the season. “All that good feeling and success goes out the window when you lose that last game,” Hodsdon said. “It’s a consolation prize. We didn’t think that way. We weren’t satisfied getting to that point. They don’t put runner-up banners in the gym.”

The team likely meant more to Boulay than most of his teammates. A four-year starter, he had lost in the semis as a freshman, and then in two championships in a row as a sophomore and junior. In last year’s championship defeat to White Mountains, the team’s last loss, he had not played well. On top of that, he had seen his friends in Farmington win their championship in Class M a week earlier, a team he could have played with had he stayed in town.

“I was confident, but I will tell you, I was also stressed,” he said. Coach Larry Francoeur kicked Boulay out of practice the day before the championship. The team had gone over to Dover to play on their court to get used to the big court. Boulay never played well at Dover. “I think I was nervous. I think I was in my head,” he said. “We had a spat. ‘Well get out of here. Go get a shower.’”

Kyle Hodsdon and Paul Boulay, center, celebrate the 1984 Class I championship win over Pembroke at UNH. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

Boulay left, but Francoeur followed him into the locker room where they had another exchange.

“What the hell are you doing?” bellowed Francoeur.

“You just kicked me out of practice, coach,” countered Boulay.

“You big effing baby, get your sh*t on and get back out there,” the coach said.

Boulay felt him and Francoeur were both under pressure that they put on themselves. “He came from Nute and replaced Ed in that kind of kicking Ed Labbe out,” Boulay said. “That was tough for the players too. Some of us played for Ed as freshmen.”

Boulay continued about Francoeur: “He had just won at Nute (Class S title in 1980). We were a good team. He had lost two in a row. I had lost two in a row. If we hadn’t won we probably wouldn’t have talked to each other after that.”

Somersworth and Pembroke, guided by veteran coach Ed Cloe, played before a full house at UNH’s Lundholm Gymnasium. It was even Steven in the first half – 10-10 after eight minutes and 25-all at the break.

Then the third quarter unfolded and Boulay’s worst nightmare with it. The Spartans went on a 20-10 run to go up 45-35 with 1:04 to play in the frame. “I remember being on the foul line and they were shooting,” Boulay said. “I’m looking up in the stands. I think there were over 2,000 people. The place was packed. I’m trying not to cry.”

The ‘Toppers responded. Boulay went coast-to-coast to score, drawing a foul in the process. He hit the freebie and then found Reil for another bucket to quickly slice the margin to five, 45-40, after three quarters.

Pepin never felt like they were going to lose. “We didn’t panic. We might have ratcheted it up a little bit,” he said. “Dug in a little bit more, didn’t give up any defensive rebounds, pressed them a little bit, got some pickoffs. And then Paul got to the foul line and he lived there.”

Celebrating the 1984 Class I boys basketball championship are, from left, Steve Cartier, Kyle Hodsdon and coach Larry Francoeur. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

Cartier’s two free throws put Somersworth ahead to stay, 50-49. Pepin’s foul shot made it 53-51 with two minutes to play. Neither team could capitalize as time wound down, and the score was still sitting a 53-51 with 33 seconds to go. Pembroke inbounded the ball, looking for a final shot to tie the game. Hodsdon can still see the possession in his mind. “They got the look they wanted,” he said. “They got a rebound and a miss. There was kind of a fumble, I think. It went out of bounds (to Somersworth). Timeout.”

Coach Francoeur remembers that final sequence, one that was certainly open to second guessing. “Paul wasn’t one of my great foul shooters,” he said. “That night he was 7 for 7 from the line.” Francoeur recalls keeping Boulay after practice to shoot foul shots. He had to make five in a row. “He wasn’t a bad foul shooter,” the coach said. “It was just something we did. It would end up him and I in the gym; me rebounding for him until he could make those.”

With five seconds to play, Hodsdon was the person to take the ball out of bounds. “He was the guy,” Francoeur said. “He never missed a foul shot. He was my ball handler. He was my most reliable guy. Most people would have had somebody else take it out. I trusted him taking the ball out of bounds to run a single play and Paul got fouled. And he was able to make the foul shots.”

He made both ends of a one-and-one with four seconds to play that made it 55-51 and put the game away. Hodsdon led the way with 17 points. Cartier added 13 before he fouled out with 2:30 to play. Boulay had 11 points and eight boards. Tim Cloe and Mark Colby led the Spartans with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

“For the most part these were guys I grew up playing Little League with,” Pepin recalled. “As soon as the buzzer went off we’d done it as a group. The football championships with the older guys (in 1980 and 1981), we were tagging along. This one felt like ours.”

A big key on defense was Somersworth pressing in the final quarter to claw back. In the final 9:04 of the game, they outscored the Spartans, 20 to 6. In addition, Deschenes and Brown took turns guarding Pembroke’s lefty scoring threat, Mike Drouin, who had torched the Hilltoppers for 31 points during the regular-season meeting. They held him to two points. 

It was Drouin who took one of the final shots, a bank shot that Hodsdon said he makes 70 percent of the time if not more. “He missed it. They got the rebound and missed it again. The ball went out of bounds. Our ball.”

The rest was history.


Two undefeated championships were in the books. Later that winter at the Seacoast Basketball Tournament at the Connie Bean Center in Portsmouth, most of the Farmington players teamed up with Boulay on Fulton’s Ramblers to win the Class B championship over Portsmouth, the champs of Class L. Portsmouth, however, played without James Best, the top player in the state, which complicated any claims at bragging rights.

Farmington was in position to make a run at a repeat the following year, with five of their first seven players back, including four starters. But Funk blew out his knee at a game at Conant and was never the same again. The Tigers advanced to the semis, losing to Hillsboro-Deering.

Somersworth was not as strong as it was, but led by Hodsdon, still made it to the semis. Hodsdon scored over 1,000 points as did Mosher for Farmington in the next season.

The two teams who had lost to Farmington and Somersworth in the ‘84 finals were crowned as champions in 1985 – Conant and Pembroke.

Some of the players from both teams went on to play in college. As previously mentioned, Hodsdon and Mucher teammed up at Plymouth State for four years under Phil Rowe. As seniors, they led the Panthers to a 20-7 record and a berth in the Little East Conference championship game where they lost to Southern Maine, an eventual NCAA D-III final four participant.

Howard played one year at Vermont Technical College, while Mosher captained baseball and basketball teams at Becker College, a two-year school in Massachusetts. Boulay, unsurprisingly, played football on scholarships at the University of New Hampshire. He was a two-time All-Yankee Conference First Team pick and the conference defensive player of the year as a senior.

Farmington got another title four years later with some brothers of the 1984 team onboard – Craig Whitten, Chuck Whitten, Mike Mucher and Ron Howard. It was coach Lee’s last title in a 21-year career that ended in 1998 coaching his youngest son, Tim.

Francoeur made it to the tournament every year he was the Somersworth coach, but did not make it back to the finals after 1984. He stepped aside in 1988, but continued to work at Somersworth HS until 2007. He remains active as the state’s longest active high school volleyball official and referees junior high basketball.

While Farmington has not won a title since 1988, the Hilltoppers have captured three – all in Class M/Division III (2005, 2011, 2015). Their first two titles came in 1969 and 1979 in Class I under the guidance of Labbe.

Debates still rage about who was better – Somersworth or Farmington. Hodsdon texted Mucher the picture of Mucher standing on the rim in Plymouth, noting “You believe that happened 40 years ago?” 

Hodsdon said to Mike Lee, “Let’s get a game.” 

Lee laughed. “I don’t think my players could walk to the scorer’s table. It was all in jest.”

Lee claims that years later Boulay told him he didn’t think he could have started on that 1984 Farmington team. “Why is that, Paul?” Lee recalled asking. “Because you guys would run and press. I didn’t want to do that,” Boulay supposedly said.

Boulay disagrees with Lee’s memory. “Most people who know me know I wouldn’t have said that,” he noted. “Maybe I was kidding if I did. Maybe it’s an early AI case. But I kind of think that’s a slap in the face. I had been to two state finals (as a sophomore and junior) in a higher division. I grew up with those kids. I was the best player of that group. I’m not saying as a senior I was better. But I definitely think I could have started for that team.”

Which is a scary thought indeed. With Boulay there was a great argument that the Tigers would  have been the best team in the state across all divisions. 

Forty years later, the 1983-84 season remains a singular one in the annals of both schools; something to cherish. “That was a special experience,” Boulay said, “being part of both those communities.”

CELEBRATIONS: Somersworth will celebrate the 1984 championship team on Friday (Feb. 9) during the halftime of the boys high school home game with Berlin, which starts at 6 p.m. Farmington will also hold their own celebration, but not until the beginning of next season.

Got a story idea, you can reach Mike at whaleym25@gmail.com

PERFECTLY IMPERFECT: Hoop titles still cause a stir

(The first of a two-part series. Read part 2)

By Mike Whaley

Forty years ago next month, Farmington and Somersworth high schools will be celebrating significant basketball accomplishments – undefeated state championships that tied the two blue-collar communities together.

Why, you ask? At the head of the list is Paul Boulay, a Farmington boy who transferred to Somersworth as an eighth-grader to play football for the Hilltoppers. He grew up with many of the Farmington players and was a key member of Somersworth’s 1984 championship run. Farmington coach Mike Lee and Somersworth coach Larry Francoeur knew each other well, having coached against each other from 1978 to 1981 when Francoeur was the coach at neighboring Nute HS in Milton (He coached against Boulay’s older brother, Gary). Lee later coached Francoeur’s eldest son Larry Jr. on AAU teams with his son Tim. Farmington’s Tim Mucher and Somersworth’s Kyle Hodsdon played AAU basketball together under Lee, later played in the Alhambra Classic (the annual game between top seniors from New Hampshire and Vermont), and were teammates on very good teams at Plymouth State University, each scoring over 1,000 points. The undefeated season remains each school’s only one. The unbeaten runs were imperfect in that both won all their regular season and playoff games, but lost a game apiece during the holiday tournament season (Farmington to Coe-Brown and Somersworth to Noble).

And lastly, on the eve of the tournaments, the two schools played an epic scrimmage behind closed doors at Somersworth High School.

Somersworth forward Paul Boulay goes up for a shot during the 1983-84 season against Newmarket. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

Another similarity is that the two schools entered the 1983-84 season coming off heartbreaking losses. The Class M Tigers had been upset in consecutive years in the quarterfinals at Plymouth State by Hinsdale, one on a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. The Hilltoppers made it all the way to two straight Class I finals, only to fall to Timberlane in 1982 and then White Mountains in 1983.

“My senior year I think we were more team oriented,” said Farmington senior center Casey Howard. “We were so much more rounded. There was no one standout.”

Coach Lee said the past teams had been very good, but always were missing that piece to push them over the top. The ‘83-84 had all the pieces. Returning players Howard, junior Tim Mucher and sophomore Steve Mosher were joined by juniors Mike Funk and Carl Whitten, who had played on an undefeated JV team. “Any one of those kids could score 30 points,” he said. “Any one of them. If we go through the records, I’m sure every one of them had a 30-point night somewhere.”

The 1983-84 Farmington HS boys basketball team went 21-0 to win the Class M championship. [Courtesy photo]

Farmington felt pretty good about itself. It had a dynamic starting five with two scrappy defense-first guys off the bench in senior Tony Carone and junior Arvard Worster. Lee got his first real tangible inkling of what this team might be capable of during a preseason game against Class L Winnacunnet. In a 16-minute battle played at break-neck pace, Winnacunnet won 45-43. “Both teams pressed full court,” Lee said. “The ball never hit the floor in either direction.” After the game, Winnacunnet coach Jack Ford ran up to Lee. “I love the way you guys play,” he gushed. “You want to scrimmage?” Lee agreed. Ford said Monday. The two two coaches developed a long relationship, coaching AAU teams together. “It was my introduction to Jack and our introduction to us realizing we could play. If we can play with Winnacunnet, we can play with anybody.”

Somersworth was a senior-laden squad led by a talented junior point guard in Kyle Hodsdon, and its two senior big guys – Boulay and Steve Cartier. One thing that helped the team was that when football injuries slowed down starters Boulay and Cartier at the beginning of the season, role players like Chris Reil, Greg Dionne, Steve Pepin, Scott Brown, Steve Deschenes and Mike Turmelle stepped in and played more meaningful minutes and upped their contribution. “We were really pretty deep,” Boulay said. “We had eight seniors. We felt really good. We thought we were going to win it.”


Farmington’s Carl Whitten stretches for a rebound as teammate Arvard Worster looks on during the 1983-84 Class M basketball season. [Courtesy photo]

The only hiccup for Farmington during the regular season was that Howard got injured early on during a game in Alton. He was undercut by an Alton player, severely injuring an ankle that kept him out of seven games, including the holiday tournament loss to Coe-Brown.

Lee brought Howard back slowly, knowing how valuable he was to the team. He was a bulky 6-foot-3 inside force who could rebound and score with either hand. He reached the 1,000-point mark in essentially two and a half seasons.

How valuable was Howard? As Lee was working him back into the lineup, Mosher and Mucher approached the coach, adamant that Howard not be brought back too soon. “We can’t afford to have him injured,” Lee recalled them saying. “With him we will win. Without him we can’t win at all.” Lee put their minds at ease, explaining what he was doing by playing Howard a few minutes at a time, not rushing anything. “It was probably a few weeks before he played a full game,” the coach said.

Once Howard was healthy, Farmington was in full attack mode. There was one goal in mind – to play in the last game of the Class M season in Plymouth. “They were very, very focused all year long,” Lee said. “They got on the bus focused. They got off the bus focused. There was no fooling around.”

Bottom line was they did not like to lose. “That was just their personality,” Lee said. “They would do anything to win.”

Somersworth’s schedule presented a challenge. They played in quite a few close games, so they were definitely battle tested by the time the playoffs rolled around. “We weren’t down often,” Hodsdon said. “But when we were, we weren’t worried. We knew we would find a way.”

Francoeur’s rigid practices did not let the ‘Toppers sink into complacency. “They were very intense and very competitive,” Hodsdon said. “We challenged each other. The second team took pride in trying to beat the first team. There were no days off.”

Hodsdon remembers coach Francoeur making the team run, run and run, doing stairs, doing the extra little things. “So when the game was on the line at the end, we were able to maybe put it in  different gear,” Hodsdon said. “One-hundred percent of the time we came out on top.”

There was pressure on Somersworth, particularly Francoeur. A Somersworth guy, he had come over in 1981 during a turbulent time when the school district was in the process of forcing out veteran coach Ed Labbe, who had successfully coached football and basketball at Somersworth from 1962 to 1981. Francoeur took over basketball from Labbe, who had coached him in football and basketball in the 1960s. In 1982 and 1983 Francoeur got the ‘Toppers to the finals, but lost both times. “There was so much pressure,” Francoeur said. “I don’t know what I would have done if we hadn’t won that third year. … We wanted to complete it. I wanted to complete it. I’m a Somersworth person. There was just that little extra pressure on it.”

To illustrate that pressure, Francoeur recalls his first year (1981-82) playing defending champion Timberlane, and both teams were 7-0. “We ended up getting beat at home,” he said. “It was like the world had ended for me. There was a lot of pressure from Ed Labbe getting done the way he did and all that. It was a lot of pressure.”


Both teams ended the regular season as top seeds in their respective classes with identical 18-0 records. Because Lee and Francoeur had that connection, they agreed to a scrimmage. It was to be done in Somersworth behind closed doors. No media.

Not everybody has the same memory of what transpired. What seems to be agreed upon is that the two teams split the either four or six quarters they played.

“I remember right off the tap, Boulay got a dunk,” Funk said.

Mucher laughs about a recent exchange with his buddy Hodsdon. “Don’t you remember Mosher drilling one of them? Words were exchanged,” Mucher said. “As Kyle said it: ‘we’re just here to get a run in.’”

Somersworth’s Chris Reil, right, corrals a rebound against Newmarket. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

“Well Kyle that’s the difference, we had an agenda to play you guys,” Mucher said. “You were Class I. We were Class M. Two undefeated teams. We were going down there for a business trip, basically. It was a little dicey. There were some words exchanged.”

Mucher laughs at Hodsdon’s assertion that Somersworth won. “They got the better of us if they counted the points they scored in warmups.”

Hodsdon’s memory is more specific. “We played six quarters – I think we split three and three,” he said. “I don’t think it ended in the final quarter when the clock hit zero. I think maybe a body hit the floor and another body, and then a whistle blew. ‘OK, let’s move on here. Let’s go start our own tournaments.’”

He recalled: “It was intense. Both communities were very similar at the time. Whether it was a scrimmage, you play to win. We cleared the board after each quarter. That’s why there wasn’t a running score. I think their quarter wins were one or two points and ours might have been five or six. That’s how we’re figuring the win.”

For Steve Pepin, the scrimmage was not as personal for him as the one Somersworth had with Dover. “Dover, we really hated them,” he said. “There was a lot of bumping and talking and everything else with the Farmington guys. It was a good matchup. I honestly don’t remember who won the game. Part of that, we were getting everybody in. It was extended and we were trying different things and people. Tough call who beat who.”

The same for Coach Lee. He recalls the gym being three-fourths full for a “closed scrimmage” and the games being close. He believes each time won a half by a point or two. “Did anybody really win the game? Of course they did. That’s what prepared both of us for a state tournament. That was the winning part of it. Not who won the game. We walked out of there prouder than hell. I’m sure they did too.”

In response to Hodsdon’s memory, Lee said: “Maybe he has a better recollection, but then again maybe not. Maybe, but I don’t remember it that way.”

Somersworth forward Steve Cartier, left, looks to outlet the ball. [Foster’s Daily Democrat photo]

Francoeur’s recall likely adds the most clarity and honesty. He kind of chuckles at the memory. “My brothers, they will get mad at me,” he said. “I let all my kids play. We didn’t play to win the scrimmage. We scrimmaged to keep ourselves in shape and to be ready for the tournament. I subbed the whole way through. We led most of the way. Farmington, I believe, ended up beating us in that scrimmage by four points. I heard about that one for a long time from different people.”

After both teams won their respective state titles, Francoeur ended up speaking at the Farmington championship banquet. “People there made sure I knew that they beat us in the scrimmage,” he said.

The tournament was here. Both teams earned a first-round bye, which meant they played the second round at the neutral site – UNH for Somersworth and Plymouth State for Farmington.

Read Part 2

Raymond rolls past Somersworth

Dre Duffaut pumped in a game-high 32 points in three quarters to pace Raymond to an 84-36 victory over visiting Somersworth on Monday night.

Caden Claytor also added 12 points for the Rams. The Hilltoppers were led by 13 points from Frankie Paradiso-Collins.

With the win, Raymond improves to 6-4 on the season and moves into a tie for 6th in the Division III standings, while Somersworth falls to 1-8.

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

Saints soar past Hilltoppers

St. Thomas went on the road and soared past host Somersworth, 66-23, on Tuesday night.

The Saints jumped out to a quick 15-5 lead after one quarter of play and never looked back.

STA was led by 16 from Cole McClure and 12 from Will Mollica. The Hilltoppers were paced by 10 points from Thomas Rees.

With the win, St. Thomas improves to 7-1 on the season and currently sits at second place in the Division III standings, while Somersworth falls to 1-6.

Check out the full gallery of the action by Heidi Green…

D-III Boys First Round Preview

By: KJ Cardinal

The 2023 NHIAA Boys Basketball Division III State Tournament gets underway tonight with a six-pack of first round games around the state. Let’s take a look at all six match-ups as we get ready for the action…

#9 Belmont at #8 Conant

The ninth-seeded Belmont Red Raiders hit the road to take on #8 Conant at 6:00 pm. The Orioles defeated the Red Raiders, 48-32, back on January 24th in the only meeting between the two this season. 

Conant’s Jared Nagle leads the way for Eric Saucier’s squad with 12.8 ppg. The Red Raiders, under first-year head coach Tony Martinez, are paced by Keegan Martinez’s 15.7 ppg.

Belmont’s looking to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2021, while Conant last made a trip to the quarters in 2020.

#13 Inter-Lakes at #4 Hopkinton

Inter-Lakes and Hopkinton will meet for the first time this season tonight as the #13 Lakers hit the road to take on the #4 Hawks at 7:00 pm. 

Hopkinton, the 2021 Division III runner-up, started off the season with eight straight wins, but has dropped three of their final four games and enter the tournament with a 12-4 mark. The Hawks are paced by Marek Joppa (14.8 ppg) and Will Tanuvasa (12.8).

The Lakers come into the tourney with a 6-10 mark and are led Owen Brown’s 14.1 ppg. 

#12 Newport at #5 Campbell

The 12th-ranked Tigers make the trip to Litchfield to take on #5 Campbell tonight at 6:30 pm in the first meeting between the two this season. 

The Cougars enter the tourney with a 12-4 mark and are riding a six-game win streak. With wins over #4 Hopkinton and at #8 Conant during that stretch, head coach Justin DiBenedetto’s squad appears to be playing their best basketball at the right time.

With seven wins on the season, Newport has equaled their win total from the previous five seasons combined. Do-it-all senior Kayden LaClair is the straw that stirs the drink for Rob Clark’s squad as he averages 19.8 ppg and can change the game on the defensive end of the floor.

#10 Monadnock at #7 Winnisquam

The seventh-ranked Winnisquam Bears welcome #10 Monadnock to Tilton tonight at 7:00 pm. The two have not met yet this season. 

The Bears, led by the divisions top scorer Anthony Boomer (21.5 ppg), dropped their season finale at Stevens, but have won 10 of their last 13 games and enter the tourney with an 11-5 mark.

The Huskies are riding a season-long, four-game win streak as they enter the tourney with a 8-10 record. Evan Dumaine leads the way for Monadnock with 19.6 ppg.

#14 Berlin at #3 Mascoma

While the scheduling snafu that disqualified White Mountains from tournament play was unfortunate, it made way for #14 Berlin to sneak into the tourney’s final spot and will head to third-ranked Mascoma Valley at 7:00 pm. 

The Royals are currently on a nine-game win streak with big wins during that stretch over #4 Hopkinton and #6 Stevens. Silas Ayres’ squad is led by Zach Thompson (18.6 ppg) and looks to get the quarterfinal round for the fourth-straight season. Just five days ago, the Royals cruised to a 68-35 win at Berlin.

The Mountaineers (5-12) started the season with two victories and ended the season with a win over #11 Somersworth, but in between they were just 2-12. Jeremiah Dow (15.2) and Haden Poulin (11.7) both average double digits for head coach Jesse Arsenault’s team.

#11 Somersworth at #6 Stevens

Sixth-ranked Stevens plays host to #11 Somersworth tonight at 7:00 pm.

The Cardinals enter the tourney with a 12-4 record and have won six of their last seven, including three straight. Hunter LaRocque paces Stevens with 14.3 ppg.

The Hilltoppers are currently on a four-game skid and have dropped seven of their last nine. But, head coach Leon Shaw’s squad has some weapons in the backcourt with Aiden Heffron (15.7 ppg) and Dominic Starr (13.0).

St. Thomas sinks Somersworth, secures #2 seed

Earlier this week, St. Thomas went on the road and defeated Somersworth, 58-43, on Tuesday’s Senior Night for the Hilltoppers and secured the #2 seed for the upcoming Division III state tournament.

The Saints later closed out the regular season with a 51-42 win over Hopkinton and are 16-1. Somersworth lost at Berlin to end their regular season and are 7-9.

Check out the full gallery of the action by Heidi Green of Heidi Green Photography…

Somersworth tops Inter-Lakes

Somersworth snapped a five-game skid as the Hilltoppers led wire-to-wire against visiting Inter-Lakes to come away with the 81-75 victory on Thursday night.

Aiden Heffron led all scorers with a game-high 23 points, while Dominic Starr added 14 and Dante Guillory netted 13. The Lakers were paced by 21 points from Owen Brown and got double-digit contributions from Joey Doda (15) and Addie Kernen (12).

The Hilltoppers improve to 6-7 on the season, while Inter-Lakes falls to 4-8.

Check out the full gallery of the action by Heidi Green of Heidi Green Photography…

[Inter-Lakes coverage is brought to you by Speare Memorial Hospital]

Red Raiders top Hilltoppers

The Belmont Red Raiders went on the road and defeated Somersworth, 55-34, on Tuesday night.

Keegan Martinez poured in a game-high 24 points to pace Belmont, while Jamison Gaudette added 14. The Red Raiders improve to 10-4 with the win and Somersworth falls to 5-7.

Check out the full photo gallery of the action by Heidi Green of Heidi Green Photography…

[Belmont coverage is brought to you by Brookford Farm]