Central barely misses victory versus Cardinals

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Bishop Guertin’s Matt Santosuosso (20) and Spencer Matarazzo (5) battle for the loose ball with Manchester Central’s William Gearles and Alex Montanez (25) during the Cards’ 74-71 win Wednesday night in Nashua. (Telegraph photo by TOM KING)

NASHUA, N.H. – Bishop Guertin High School boys basketball coach John Fisher knows what team he definitely does not want to see again this season.

Manchester Central, stay away.

“I told the guys in practice yesterday, this is a very good basketball team,” Fisher said after his 11-3 Cardinals barely escaped Wednesday night with a 74-71 win, their eighth straight. “These kids can run, they can play defense, they can shoot.

“I don’t want to play them any more. I’m good. If I don’t see them again, I’m good.”

That’s all great for Sudi Lett and his Little Green team to hear, but they would have rather left the Colligadome with a win. They almost sent it to overtime but Baylee Bates’ 3-pointer with a semi-decent look fell short at the buzzer.

“Bishop Guertin’s a well-coached team, they did a great job tonight attacking the hoop,” Lett said. “The bounces didn’t go our way. I’m pleased, but not pleased enough (without) the win.”

The Cardinals tried as hard as they could to pull away, but the Little Green (5-7) simply wouldn’t allow it. They led 14-5 early on but it was only 15-9 after one quarter. They were up 29-23 at the half, but the teams went into the fourth quarter deadlocked at 48.

The Cards then started to pull way, up 69-59 with 2:53 left thanks to two Ben Mullett 3-pointers (his second game back from a suspension following the North mele), plus key hoops by Luke Anderson and the red-hot Matt Santosuosso (game high 29 points).

But back came the Little Green, as a Kuel Akot 3-pointer pulled them to within 71-69 with 1:15 to go. They had a chance to tie but Angel Castro’s layup with 25 seconds left just fell off the rim. BG got a Mullett free throw plus two by Anderson to make it 74-69, but it still wasn’t enough to feel comfortable thanks to an Akot layup with 6.9 seconds to go.

The Cards knew they needed to match Central’s toughness.

“Yes,” Fisher said. “And I think we were a little too comfortable.”

Manchester Central’s William Gearles tries to put a shot up against Bishop Guertin’s Javari Ellison during BG’s 74-71 win Wednesday night in Nashua. (Telegraph photo by TOM KING)

Gearles and Akot led Central with 17 points each while the Cards a huge game from Santosuosso, who is playing some great basketball down the stretch.

“I knew it would happen,” Fisher said. “He’s athletic, he’s used to going a whole football game and he can go a whole basketball game. He’s aggressive, he sees his gaps, and he plays within himself. I don’t think you saw a bad shot tonight. I’m really happy with how this is progressing.”

Luke Anderson had 17 while Mullett finished with 13, but nine of those coming in the decisive fourth quarter.

“He had a monster game,” Fisher said. “Helped us out with a critical rebound at the end and being in the right position vs. a team that jumps.”

Central, meanwhile, plays above its record. They had a four-game win streak earlier in the month, and hope to get back to those ways.

“We hope so, we hope so,” Lett said. “We’d like to bounce ahead with a win down the stretch. The seeding’s getting in place, the tournament’s getting in place. I’m pleased. Just not enough without the win.”

Either way, Fisher wants no part of Central in the postseason.

“The coaches were talking after the game, that this is one of those teams that comes in (to the tournament) somewhere low (in the seeding) and wins,” he said.

They just weren’t able to do it last night, but the Cards don’t want to push their luck.


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Tom King - Nashua Telegraph

Sports ReporterNashua Telegraph