Derryfield’s run halted in D-IV quarters

Defending champs engineer road upset of senior-laden Cougars

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Senior Jack Krasnof takes a moment to reflect on a his high school season and career following his team’s playoff exit Thursday night. Stacy Harrison photo

MANCHESTER, NH – The Derryfield School boys basketball team had a successful campaign by most any measure.

The Cougars earned a 16-2 regular-season record, defeated Queen City rival Holy Family twice, secured a top-three seed in the Division I-V tournament and soundly dispatching No. 14 Pittsburg-Canaan, 78-49, in their playoff opener Monday night – among other notable accomplishments.

Their 2023-’24 run, however, came to an end Thursday night as they became the latest victim of a varsity program that hasn’t lost a postseason contest in more than four year. falling 61-52, to three-time defending champ Woodsville on Derryfield’s Holland Court.

The No. 3 Cougars and No. 6 Engineers (13-5) battled back and forth throughout the first half, with the latter entering the locker room with a 29-27 advantage.

“We knew we were going to have to play well to beat them,” said Woodsville head coach Jamie Walker. “You know, they start five seniors who are all capable of shooting and getting to the basket, so we knew on the defensive end, we were going to have to stay in front of them and rebound.”

The Engineers were able to do exactly that in the third quarter where their postseason experience was on full display on both ends of the court.

“We’ve had some guys who have been through this, and so we get focused, and it really starts down on the defensive end,” said Walker. “We kind of preach getting stops and turning those into easy baskets. They went man in the second half, and we have a couple guys that were able to get to the basket.”

Led by shifty sophomore guard Ryan Walker, Woodsville extended its lead with a 14-5 run before the Cougars scored the last basket of the frame to close the gap to nine.

The Cougars clawed back in the forth quarter, reducing the deficit to five, but Woodsville’s defense stiffened and without a shot clock at the New Hampshire high school level, the Engineers were able to hold the ball for the majority of the last four minutes, scoring most of their 4th-quarter points at the free-throw line to close out the 61-52 victory.

“It was disappointing,” said Derryfield head coach Ed Meade. “You know, we had our chances, obviously. We just couldn’t get over the hump, and I give them credit. They played really well. They played the game they wanted to play against us.”

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Senior guard Alex Drake and teammates battled right down to the final seconds of Thursday’s quarterfinal loss.

As was the case all season, senior forward Jack Krasnof was a consistent force for the Cougars throughout the content, leading the team with 23 points, while classmate Alex Drake dropped 13 on Woodsville and Alex Comire and Zach Martin contributed 7 and 6, respectively.

“We did the best we could do on the Krasnof kid, but it’s tough when he gets going left, there’s only so much you can do,” said Walker. “It was a good year for them, and this time of year, it comes down to matchups.”

The matchups on the other end proved equally difficult for the hosts as Ryan Walker ended the contest with 19 points, including seven from the free throw line, and Connor Newcomb scored 22 to propel his team into the semifinals.

Woodsville next heads to Bedford High School where it will face second-ranked Littleton Monday at 5:30 p.m. with a shot at the championship game on the line.

And Meade now bids farewell to a senior class  – including Krasnof, Drake, Comire, Martin, Billy Gardner, Krishna Katragadda, Nick Ferrari, Elias Kanteres and Logan Purvis – that put Derryfield boys basketball back on the map.

“These guys have been the backbone of our program for the last four years,” he said.  “All those guys, they’ve gotten our program to where we have a certain tradition, a standard, a way that we play and we’re going to miss them. You know, you can’t replace seniors like that.”

But their influence lives on, and Meade said that reality is sure to help his underclassmen as they step venture next season into the more competitive waters of New Hampshire Division-III hoops.

“We’ve got some good young players coming up and our seniors really paved the way for how we want to play basketball here in the future,” he said. “I think we may struggle a little against some of the upper-tier teams (in D-III) next year, but I think we’ll be able to compete with most of the teams we play.”

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Jack Krasnof was a force inside for the Cougars Thursday night.

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About this Author

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.