Cougars Takes Championship Win
The Stevens basketball team traveled to Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday night to take on the Hopkinton Hawks in the NHIAA Division III Semi-Finals, looking to erase a 78-year-long drought, and make it to the Championship Game.
The Cardinals came out on fire and raced out to a 13-0 lead, and a first quarter lead of 21-8. The Hawks would start finding their range and closed the gap in both the second and third quarter, and Stevens went into the final quarter with a lead of just 41-37. As they had done in the first quarter, the Cardinals took control and outscored the Hawks 20-8 over the final eight minutes to advance to the NHIAA Division III Championship Game, for the first time since 1939, with a 61-45 victory.
Nick and Zach O’Brien shared the scoring lead with 17 points apiece. Noah Spaulding tossed in 16 points, while Parker Smith chipped in with 8 points. Nick O’Brien grabbed a team high 8 rebounds, while brother Zach hauled in 7 rebounds.
Members of the Cardinals team receive their Runner Up medals following the Championship game (Courtesy photo).
On Saturday night, before a packed house at the Southern New Hampshire University Field House, Stevens was looking to give the school their first basketball Championship ever as they squared off against the Kearsarge Cougars, also looking to win their school’s first basketball Championship. The teams had split a pair of regular season games so it was fitting the rubber match would be for the Championship.
Stevens trailed 12-8 after the first quarter but doubled up the Cougars’ point total in the second quarter, 24-12 to go to the break up by 8 points, 32-24. Both teams turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, and Stevens held a slim 41-38 advantage after 3 quarters of play. Kearsarge held Stevens to just 5 points in the final quarter and made a couple of big shots and free throws down the stretch to win the 2016-2017 Division III Championship 51-46.
Zach O’Brien led the Cardinals with 16 points, and grabbed a game high 13 rebounds. Spaulding and Smith had 8 points each, with Smith dishing out 5 assists, and Nick O’Brien, who also had 7 rebounds, and Richard Bell chipped in with 7 points apiece.
While the Cardinals did not achieve their ultimate goal, the team had a phenomenal season, posting a record of 18-4 on the season and giving their fans, school, and community quite a ride this basketball season. This was the third trip to the Championship Game for the boys, as both the soccer and football teams also made Championship Game appearances.