Mugiraneza’s three buzzer beaters send Holy Family to finals

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Yves Mugiraneza, right, on Feb. 27, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

PENACOOK, N.H. – In what may have been one of the best high school basketball games in New Hampshire history, the Griffins of Holy Family Academy left Merrimack Valley High School with a ticket to the 2022-‘23 NHIAA Division IV boys’ basketball championship game, defeating Concord Christian in double overtime, 86-84.

Holy Family finished the first quarter with a 19-16 lead, a lead that grew to nine points at its peak in the second quarter before the Griffins missed seven straight shots from the field, allowing the Kingsmen to take a 29-27 lead with just over a minute left in the half.

The Kingsmen took a 33-30 lead into the third quarter, but neither team managed to put the game out of reach as the second half progressed. Concord Christian saw its lead grow to seven points midway through the third, with Holy Family junior Gene LaCasse single-handedly erasing that lead with ten points in the last few minutes of the third quarter alone, giving Holy Family a 53-52 lead heading into the final frame.

Holy Family senior Yves Mugiraneza sent the game to overtime, answering a clutch three from Concord Christian sophomore Brode Frink in the final seconds of regulation with a three of his own, falling through the net with just .4 seconds left on the clock.

Neither team managed to pull away in the first overtime period, with Mugiraneza’s buzzer-beating lay up knotting the contest at 75-75, setting the stage for his third and final buzzer-beater of the contest in double overtime.


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Brode Frink (#15) had almost 50 points, but it wasn’t enough. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Although Concord Christian won the semi-final between these two squads last year, 59-42, Holy Family Head Coach Keith Lacasse felt confident in his squad’s experience, especially in these sudden-death situations.

“We have been in overtime many times and Concord Christian has not. We knew what to expect in high-pressure games, we’ve been in them before, so I think we had the advantage there,” said Lacasse. “Three times in the final four, we just knew: this was our time.”

Frink finished with 16 rebounds and 48 points for Concord Christian, including 22 of Concord Christian’s first-half points. At times it seemed like his herculean effort might have been enough to singlehandedly will the Kingsmen to victory, and it almost was.

“It’s hard to process it all right now, he obviously started off hot, and we’ve been trying to encourage him to get his teammates involved as well so he didn’t have to do everything,” said Concord Christian Head Coach Eric Hetzer. “He just tried to put the whole team on his shoulders, and you know, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

Senior Sean Sullivan led the Griffins with 27 points, followed by 22 from Mugiraneza and 20 from Lacasse.

Holy Family will now play Woodsville on Saturday for the title, with Woodsville defeating Littleton 60-53 In the second semi-final of the night.


 

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Gabe Lacasse on Feb. 27, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

 

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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.