Griffins play, pray their way into quarterfinals

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Enzo Yonkeu battled through traffic to earn this layup during Holy Family’s fourth-quarter charge Monday night. Stacy Harrison photo

MANCHESTER, NH – The first two quarters went according to plan.

The third, assuredly, did not.

The fifth-ranked Holy Family Academy boys basketball team (14-4), hosting 12th-seeded Concord Christian Academy (9-9) in the first round of the NHIAA Division IV playoffs Monday night, appeared poised to extend its 33-27 lead heading into the second half.

The visiting Kingsmen, however, weren’t bought into the script.

They came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, outscoring the hosts 19-6 to take a 46-39 advantage into the final frame.

“I noticed some changes they were making to attack our defense, so we made some changes to counter that, which worked really well and shut down their underneath game and took away their scoring, and then we were able to execute offensively,” said Concord Christian head coach Greg Farland. “This is a game of runs and that one was ours.”

The Griffins, with their backs against the wall, responded in kind, turning the 7-point 4th-quarter deficit into a 57-51 victory to advance to the D-IV quarterfinals for a 4th-straight season.

“We came out very flat in the third quarter, and they just had a nice run, they got ahead, the momentum was theirs,” said Holy Family head coach Keith Lacasse. “The guys just had to dig deep and play a little more solid defensively. We had a hole to climb out of, but slowly chipped away.”

In addition to playing hard, Lacasse also credited praying hard for the Griffins victory.

“We prayed a lot before the game. We prayed some at halftime. We prayed a lot after,” said Lacasse. “So this one is for (God’s) glory because it almost felt like we didn’t deserve it at times.”

One player who came off the bench to help the Griffins turn the contest around was junior Chase Paquette, who scored six points in the fourth quarter, including a contested three-pointer and three clutch free throws, while also providing shutdown defense, to help secure the victory.

“I think he injected a lot of energy,” said Lacasse. “He’s a high-energy guy and on defense he’s just all over them, he’s in their face, and I think getting him into the game really changed the momentum of the game, and once the momentum shifted back in our favor we were able to get out of it.”

“I think, defensively, the pressure went up quite a bit,” said Farland. “I also think that they’re a great team so, you know, I want to give them complete credit for playing a great fourth quarter. Gabe (Lacasse) really put the team on his shoulders and carried them to the finish line.”

The younger Lacasse led Holy Family with 19 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter. Jeremiah Guererro scored 15 points, Patrick Gillis notched 13 and Enzo Yonkeu contributed 10 to the winning effort.

The Griffins now advance to the D-IV quarterfinals where they travel to fourth-ranked Farmington for a scheduled 7 p.m. tipoff Thursday night. The winner advances to the state semifinals on Monday night against either top-ranked Profile (18-0) or No. 8 Portsmouth Christian (13-6).

“Holy Family’s got a great team,” said Farland. “You know, they’re good, they’ve got shooters and a great point guard, they’ve got bigs, they can they dominate the offensive glass. In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given night, so I think they’ve got just as good of a shot as anybody else.”

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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.