Merrimack able to hold off BG rally

Tim Goodridge knows it’s going to take time for the offense to come together for the Merrimack High School boys basketball team.

Good thing for the Tomahawks the defense is right where it needs to be.

Merrimack held Bishop Guertin to 14 points in the first half of last Friday night’s game and held on down the stretch to beat the Cardinals 47-41 in a Division I game.

Ian Roberts scored 16 points to lead Merrimack, while Zach Kerr had 14 points as the Tomahawks led by as many as 12 points in the first half and forced the Cardinals to play from behind all night.

“I think any kid can play defense; I firmly believe that,” Goodridge said. “We go with defense, and that’s what is going to keep us in the games.”

Merrimack has yet to break 50 points in its four division games, but hasn’t allowed more than 51. The offense seemed to be on in the first quarter-plus, as Merrimack had 21 points 10 minutes into the game, but the Tomahawks went the next 16 minutes with just 10 points.

“We struggle to score and I thought we came out and played pretty good offense in the first quarter,” Goodridge said. “It was tough to maintain making a lot of shots like that. Your legs get into you as the game gets going and we struggled offensively, but we were very determined and played pretty darned good defense.

“I’d like to hold teams to 50 every night and figure out a way to scored 60.”

Kyle Gavin led Bishop Guertin with 11 points and Jackson Houseman added nine, but the Cardinals were 7 of 20 from the free throw line, including 4 of 14 in the second half, when they were shooting at the basket in front of the Merrimack student section.

“I was happy with the way they played, honestly, but we just didn’t make foul shots,” Bishop Guertin coach Jim Migneault said. “You can’t do that.

“The students are great here and they do a very good job, but you’ve got to make those. It seems like you miss one, you miss a second.”

After trailing by 12 points with 4:47 left in the third quarter, Bishop Guertin went on a 12-2 run to pull within two points in the final seconds of the quarter. But a 3-pointer by Kerr with less than a second to play made it a five-point game and swung momentum toward Merrimack.

The free throw problems started early in the fourth quarter for Bishop Guertin, when Alex Arika missed all three free throws when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt. Gavin made one of two moments later, but Arika missed two more and Mike Rinko came up short on the front end of a one-and-one. The Tomahawks started making their free throws at the other end, as Kerr and Dylan Richardson combined to make six straight and put Merrimack up 45-34 with 1:52 left.

Bishop Guertin got a couple of baskets late off Merrimack turnovers to close the gap, but it wasn’t enough.