MANCHESTER, NH – To call it a rivalry last season might have been a stretch.
After all, the Holy Family Academy boys basketball team, competing in its inaugural NHIAA campaign during a modified 2020-’21 season, defeated cross-city foe Derryfield School all three times in which the two teams met last year.
But 2022 is a new year and the Cougars (3-1) announced that reality emphatically on the court Tuesday night when they handed the Griffins (4-1) their first defeat of the season, 62-47.
“It’s nice not to be on the losing end against these guys for a change,” said Derryfield head coach Ed Meade. “We were a little shorthanded tonight due to a couple guys being out with COVID and one guy out with a broken finger, so I was really proud of the way these guys responded … and believe me, they knew we lost to them three times last year and they knocked us out of the tournament, so they had that in mind.”
Meade said his game plan was simply to keep his players on the attack all night and that’s exactly what he saw on the court, especially late in the contest when the Cougars broke free of the back-and-forth affair and outscored the Griffins, 27-12 to close out the victory.
“This is my third year here and that’s the best I’ve seen a Derryfield team play in terms of intensity and aggressiveness,” said Meade. “They really made a statement tonight.”
Freshman standout Thomas Fedinando led the charge with 26 points while sophomore Jack Krasnof dropped 17 markers and junior captain John McDevitt contributed eight points in the contest.
Though Holy Family, paced by 21 points from senior star Karl Yonkeu, kept the contest tight for three quarters, Griffins head coach Keith Lacasse said was disappointed his team didn’t respond better following a recent disappointing showing at a holiday tournament.
“We didn’t play our own game,” he said. “We didn’t run our own offense that we’ve been working on. We didn’t run the defense we’ve practiced. We didn’t box out. We didn’t rebound. All the things we’ve been working on, we just didn’t do. They just wanted to play individual ball, and I let them know that after the game.
“But Derryfield deserved to win,” he said. “They played tough and we didn’t play what they’ve been taught. Hopefully it’s a good lesson.”
Now coming off back-to-back setbacks, Lacasse hopes his players will be spurred toward a more team-oriented style of play heading into their next contest, which is currently scheduled to be played at winless Nute on Tuesday, Jan. 11. That game leads into a major midseason test on the 14th against undefeated Epping, the same squad that delivered Derryfield its lone loss of the season to date.
“If we play our game, we can compete with anybody,” said Lacasse.
Should the two Manchester squads meet again in the D-IV playoffs, Lacasse said he expects his team to be ready for the Cougars.
“I think we’re very evenly matched this year,” said Lacasse. “They’re a good team, no doubt about it, and I tried to warn my team, just because we were 3-0 on them last year doesn’t mean it’s not going to flip this year because last year the first game we beat them by 11, and then we beat them by a smaller number, and then we beat them by a smaller number (in the playoffs). You know, you can’t do the wrong things and have the game go your way every time.”