Sabers rough up Knights

AMHERST – Peter Pierce has a simple formula for winning basketball games – defense, rebounding and running.

If the Souhegan High School boys basketball team can put all three together, Pierce feels the Sabers have an much-improved chance of winning, and Tuesday night against Kingswood, that was the case.

Souhegan held its own in all three categories in the first half and then dominated the third quarter, going on a 17-1 run on the way to a 70-44 win.

Jerrell Webster had a game-high 22 points for the Sabers (3-6) while Alex Hill added 18 points and Isaac Nevrla had 10, as all 27 of Souhegan’s field goals came from inside the 3-point line.

“That’s kind of throwback basketball,” Pierce said. “It doesn’t always happen, but my philosophy as a coach has always been defend, rebound and run. If you do those things, if you make the other team take a bad shot, you outrebound them, defensive rebounding especially, and you get in transition, life becomes easier.

“You have to do those three things marginally better than the other team and you’ll be successful. It doesn’t have to be a tidal wave, but you have to do those three things marginally better.”

Against the Knights (0-9), it was a tidal wave, as the Sabers forced 31 turnovers, including 13 in the third, when they opened the frame with a 12-0 run and stretched to 17-1, turning a 33-27 halftime lead into a 50-28 advantage.

“I think it started in the locker room,” Webster said. “We’ve been going down there, even with leads, hanging our heads. We came out and ran our stuff and did what we had to do. It was all about execution.”

Kingswood got 11 points from Patrick Meyer and eight from Michael Kelley.

Meyer scored the first five points of the game to give the Knights a 5-0 lead, but Souhegan’s Tom Stover got the next five – his only points of the game – to tie it up.

That was the first of four ties in the first quarter, and the lead changed nine times in the game’s first 9:09, when a basket by Souhegan’s Zachery Theriault gave the Sabers a 20-19 lead.

The basket by Theriault started Souhegan on a 14-4 run that saw it take a 32-23 lead with 2:22 left in the first half before Kingswood was able to close the lead to six going into halftime.

“What it comes down to, in the first half, we weren’t really playing the game the way we need to play it,” Nevrla said. “In the third quarter, we started controlling the game and that was key, no matter who you’re playing.”

The win helps give the Sabers a bit of confidence going into Friday’s game against Milford, who beat Souhegan by seven points earlier this season.

“It’s a momentum builder,” Nevrla said. “We’re really looking forward to that Milford game. At Milford, it’s always a fun crowd there. We’re looking to beat a team that’s above us so we can move up in the standings.”