Gendron leads ’Hawks past Dover
Friday, January 11, 2013
MERRIMACK – With many key players gone following a championship season, Merrimack High School boys basketball coach Tim Goodridge has often described his team as inexperienced.
That inexperience has been evident recently, as the Tomahawks dropped consecutive Division I games to fall to 2-2 on the season.
But Merrimack does have one returning starter from last year’s championship run – junior guard Eric Gendron – and his 19 points lifted the Tomahawks to a 58-52 win Tuesday night at Merrimack High School.
Gendron scored 11 of his game-high total in the second quarter, which included three 3-pointers, as Merrimack outscored the Green Wave (2-3) 17-5 to take a 30-19 advantage into halftime.
Dover came out of the gates hot in the second half, however, as a pair of Kam Towie 3-pointers trimmed the Tomahawks (3-2) advantage to five points.
But as any team with championship aspirations would do, Merrimack responded with a run of its own, taking a 40-25 advantage on a 10-0 run that wasn’t stopped until midway through the third quarter.
“I thought we played good defense in the second quarter especially, that really got us the lead,” Goodridge said. “It was just a matter of holding on to that lead.” The Tomahawks would have to overcome another Green Wave run in the fourth quarter to hold that lead, but clutch free-throw shooting from Gendron and sophomore Austin Franzen was ultimately the deciding factor.
After going cold from the line during the Queen City Invitational Tournament, Goodridge had his team spending extra time on free-throws in practice over the past couple of weeks, and he was certainly glad to see it pay off at the end of the game.
“We’ve been shooting a lot of free throws, and (Tuesday) was a night that we made them,” he said. “It seems our extra free-throw shooting is helping out.”
Things didn’t look as if they were going to come easy for Merrimack early on.
The Tomahawks took their first lead of the game with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter, and continued to trade baskets with Dover for the remainder of the period. Keeping Merrimack in the mix throughout was the play of forwards Shayne Bourque (12 points) and Brad Jarry (eight), as both got a majority of their scoring chances on second- and third-chance
opportunities on offensive rebounds.
“There’s no doubt that (Connor) Whalen and Jarry and Bourque had pretty good games, they’re competitors,” Goodridge said. “I just think there was a big improvement (Tuesday) compared to where we were two weeks ago. I just thought it was a good step in the right direction.”
What Goodridge was most satisfied with from this game was the progress he feels his team has made, especially after the way they struggled in recent outings. While the expectations may not be as high from the outside, he still feels his team will be ready to make another run come March, so long as it can continue to make positive steps forward.
“Our goal is just to try to get better every day,” Goodridge said, “so when we do get to March when the games really count, that we’ll be able to compete and play against a team like Dover, and maybe sneak out a couple games and get to Durham.
“Anything is possible as long as you keep working on it. We’ve got a long way to go before we can start thinking about that.”
Merrimack plays again at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Concord.