Souhegan holds off John Stark for third victory

AMHERST – Some new faces stepped up to help get the Souhegan High School boys basketball team a lead Friday night against John Stark, but when it came to crunch time, it was a senior who shut the door on the Generals.

Brian Dworkin, one of the few players who got varsity minutes for the Sabers a year ago, scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half and helped Souhegan hold on for a 59-50 victory.

Seven of Dworkin’s points came late in the third quarter, after the Generals had cut an 11-point Souhegan lead down to just six.

“I thought Dworkin had a great second half and really played well when we needed it,” Souhegan coach Peter Pierce said. “He was the one that stepped up and stopped the momentum. He scored a couple of hoops, got a couple of rebounds and calmed us down.”

Jerrell Duguay Webster (14 points) and Charlie Driscoll (12) were also in double figures for the Sabers (3-7), who moved into the top 16 in Division II with the win.

John Stark (2-8) got 17 points from Zachary Gagnon, including two 3-pointers, and Serge Boucher added 10 points, and also had two 3s.

“I was proud of the way we played,” John Stark coach Mike Smith said. “We hung in there, but unfortunately, we didn’t play well in the first quarter and we’re not good enough where we can spot teams eight or 10 points. That’s what happened and we ended up playing from behind.”

Souhegan went on an 11-3 run in the first quarter to lead by as many as 10 and had a 17-8 lead going into the second. That lead was 10 points at halftime, 31-21, thanks in part to the inside presence of Duguay Webster and Driscoll, who each 10 points at the break.

“I thought we did a nice job of the glass, especially in the first half,” Pierce said. “We thought we would have a competitive advantage there and those second and third opportunities allowed us to not be a great shooting team and still compete.”

The Sabers went up by 13 early in the third quarter, but a 9-2 run by the Generals got them to within six points, 36-30, on a 3 by Boucher.

After a Souhegan turnover, John Stark had a chance to cut into the deficit even more, but Egan Nickerson was called for a foul and Dworkin score on the other end. The teams traded baskets, but with time winding down in the quarter, Dworkin connected on a 3-pointer to make it 43-34 Souhegan going into the fourth.

The lead grew to as many as 14 points for the Sabers, but a late run by the Generals, including another 3 by Boucher at the final buzzer, made it a nine-point game.

“We played with a lot more energy and we executed better,” Smith said. “There were a lot of four-point swings where we turn the ball over or miss a layup and then give it up on the other end.”

Pierce was pleased to see his team successfully hold a lead to end the game.

“There are seniors out there and they have played a lot of basketball,” he said. “You count on them in those situations to reestablish momentum and stop the other team’s run. (Friday) they were able to do that and respond. It’s nice to see the kids get a return on their investment.”