Nashua - Trinity High of Manchester head coach Dave Keefe said he wanted his team to finish in second place. And his club responded with a solid win last night in the Gate City. Senior Ryan Bourgeois netted a game-high 21 points to lead the Pioneers to a 57-50 Class L boys' basketball victory against Nashua North on Senior Night.
The victory improved Trinity's record to 15-2 heading into the season finale on Friday against visiting Dover. Trinity can clinch second place with a victory against the Green Wave. Tonight, Exeter (13-3) will host Londonderry (12-3) in a make-up game that could go a long way in the quest to catch Trinity for second place.
"I don't mind being in the position that we're in going into the last game," said Keefe. "I told our team this week that we had two tough games to win if we wanted to finish in second place. I want to finish in second and we need to beat Dover to do that. It's nice to have some incentive going into that last game."
Trinity never trailed last night. The Pioneers took control early with a 9-2 opening-game burst behind a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore Jordan Laguerre, who finished with 15 points.
Bourgeois was the difference-maker last night, making things happen on both ends of the court. His biggest asset is getting the ball in transition and pushing it up court fast enough so the defense doesn't have time to set.
"Ryan is a very complete off-guard player," said Nashua North head coach Andy Otocka. "He's a very smart player who reads the defense very well. We had a hard time containing him tonight."
Bourgeois finished with 10 first-half points to stake Trinity to a 29-22 lead at intermission. After taking its 9-2 edge early in the contest, Trinity did not enjoy another seven-point advantage until the final seconds, when Steve Rice nailed a 3-pointer to give the Pioneers their lofty lead at the half.
Nashua North (11-6) managed to stay close behind senior point guard Michael Salis, who poured in a team-high 16 points including four 3-pointers. The Titans, behind the towering towers of junior John Murphy and sophomore Kevin Rosenberg, controlled the boards for most of the contest.
"We got manhandled on both ends," said Keefe. "I told our team if we plan on making any run this year in the playoffs, we have to do a better job. I thought Salis, who's the best passer in Class L this year, played one of his better games. He certainly had one of his better shooting nights."
In the second half, 3-point shooting from Laguerre and Bourgeois pushed Trinity out to a 13-point lead, 46-33, with 1:37 left in the third quarter. But two clutch hoops, including a 3-pointer from Salis, whittled Trinity's lead to 46-38 heading into the last period.
North pulled within six points (46-40) when Murphy hit a putback to open the last frame. But Bourgeois matched the basket with a short jumper from the free-throw line and Trinity was able to hold off the Titans, getting four free throws from Laguerre and two more in the final minute from junior forward Richard Madol to seal the win.
Trinity finished the game with 16 field goals, including seven 3-pointers and 18 free throws. Nashua North, which outrebounded Trinity, 29-16, received 13 points from Murphy and 10 from Brad Zapenas.
"Our 3-point shooting is one of our biggest strengths, and I thought we did a better job of boxing out in the second half," said Bourgeois, who's looking forward to the Dover game on Friday. "It's a game we've got to win to get second place."