Hollis Brookline holds off late Souhegan rally

AMHERST – It was over as over could be until it wasn’t.

The Hollis Brookline High School boys basketball team pounded Souhegan early. The Cavaliers scored 19 of the first 21 points and were in cruise control until the Sabers made a run to cut a fourth-quarter deficit from 22 to eight.

With just over a minute left, HB coach Mike Soucy put his entire starting five back into the game to ensure no shenanigans befell his Cavaliers as they secured a 57-45 win.

“We kind of lost our focus and they were playing with a lot of energy,” Soucy said. “We had to make sure we secured the win.”

It was sparkles and sunshine for HB early ,as Matt Fothergill scored nine points in the opening frame to power the Cavaliers out of the gates. Fothergill finished the game with 11 points. Shea Whalen scored six of his team-high 13 points in the first as well as swatting two of his three blocks.

The offense flowed because the defense stifled. HB turned Souhegan over eight times in the opening eight minutes.

“It starts with our defense,” Whalen said. “We had our hands up, we were energetic on defense. A lot of deflections turned into transition.”

The Cavaliers played a 2-3 zone for the entire game and Souhegan never fully solved it. The Cavaliers combined to block eight shots and get 10 steals.

“It’s a speed and intensity-of-play type of thing, and it’s not the first time this year it’s happened to us,” Souhegan coach Peter Pierce said. “We seem to think that we can ease into a game and that simply isn’t the case in high school basketball in this day and age.”

The one Saber that rose to the occasion was senior Matthew Segul. Segul scored a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to keep Souhegan above water. AJ Hayes scored seven points for the Sabers.

“He played like a captain,” Pierce said of Segul. “That’s what senior captains are supposed to do. He understands that, he’s took that responsibility on, and he’s done a great job with it.”

The Cavaliers were able to cycle in players without the level of play dropping. Eleven different players scored for Hollis Brookline, as the bench pumped in a combined 14 points.

Soucy said that when all the cylinders are firing his team runs nearly flawless.

“When we come focused and ready to play that’s how it is every night no matter who we’re playing,” Soucy said. “I don’t really have to do a lot with these guys. They’ve been together for a long time so they know what they’re supposed to do.”

Daniel Bentall filled the stat sheet for the Cavaliers. The senior scored eight points, pulled down a pair of rebounds, and poked away two steals.