West ousts HB at horn

MANCHESTER – The Hollis Brookline boys basketball team had difficulties containing Manchester West’s 6-foot-6 forward Akok Akok throughout the first half of their NHIAA Division II quarterfinals matchup. A halftime adjustment by Cavaliers coach Michael Soucy stymied Akok, and Hollis Brookline came back to lead by one with 20 seconds remaining.

However, when it really mattered, the talented Blue Knights sophomore still came through.

Akok gathered an offensive rebound on a messy Blue Knights possession and converted the game-winning layup as time expired, giving No. 3 Manchester West the dramatic 43-42 victory over No. 6 Hollis Brookline.

After fighting off a barrage of Blue Knights 3-pointers in the third quarter, the Cavaliers still found a way to fight their way back into the contest. The team started the fourth on a 9-1 run, taking their first second-half lead on a long Nick Fothergill 3-pointer with two minutes remaining. The Cavaliers had an opportunity to extend that lead at the line, but the team was unable to convert their free throws.

Still, Hollis Brookline found themselves up by one during the game’s final moments. Manchester West took several shots during the final possession, keeping themselves alive with a series of offensive rebounds. Following a fight for the ball on the floor, Akok managed to get his hands on a Blue Knights miss, gently laying it in to send his team to the Division II semifinals.

Hollis Brookline actually looked like the better team coming out of the gate. The team got off to a quick 7-3 lead, but the Blue Knights scored seven unanswered points to take a slight lead after one. The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 12 in the second quarter, and they headed into halftime facing a five-point deficit. With Hollis Brookline looking to slow down Akok, who finished with 13 first-half points, Soucy decided to rely on sophomore forward Matt Dowling as his defensive stopper.

The move ended up working. Dowling came off the bench and limited Akok to only six second-half points. Meanwhile, the sophomore forward contributed eight points and three offensive rebounds after halftime.

Fothergill led Hollis Brookline with 14 points. Matt Simco added nine points, and Dowling added 10. Akok had a game-high 19 points for Manchester West, with Corey Descoteaux chipping in 12. The Blue Knights will now take on No. 2 Lebanon in the Division II quarterfinals.