Titans take down Tomahawks

Whether it was going to be their last game of the year or not, the Nashua High School boys basketball team was not going to finish the regular season quietly on Monday night.

“Definitely,” North sophomore guard Ronnie Silva said after his 23 points helped the Titans to a must-win 66-59 triumph over Merrimack. “We knew we needed this game, and we did it tonight. We executed pretty well, we shot well, we moved the ball well, and made our free throws.”

You do all that, and you’re going to be tough to beat. The Titans finished the regular season 6-12, and have to wait and see what happens the rest of the week with a jumble of teams at the bottom of the tournament ladder in Division I. But one thing was for certain, a loss on Monday and they would have likely been on the outside looking in come tournament time.

“I don’t think we saw a team shoot like that against us all year,” Tomahawks coach Tim Goodridge said. “They got some confidence. … They needed a win pretty bad to get into the tournament.”

Merrimack (9-8), which got a game-high 27 points from Ian Roberts, needed it to in order to possibly secure home court for the first round of next week’s tourney. But now the ’Hawks will have to see how it all shakes out with one game left Friday against Pinkerton.

North led throughout, jumping out to a tone-setting 7-2 start. The Titans led 13-8 after one, 30-23 at halftime, and 43-35 after three.

But the fourth quarter things got dicey. Silva’s fall-away 3-pointer (one of his five) with 2:11 left gave the Titans what they thought would be a commanding 60-49 lead, but Merrimack hit two straight 3’s, the second by Austin Franzen (16 points), and just like that it was 60-55 with 1:26 left.

But as Silva said, North hit its free throws, going 7 for 10 from the line in the final 2:10. That included a pair by Brennan Kastens with 32.7 seconds left and Brandon Rodriguez (13 points) with 15.8 ticks remaining after the ’Hawks had closed to 62-59 with 42 seconds to go.

“You know as well as I do, we competed with 15 or 16 teams in this league all year,” North coach Steve Lane said. “This team never quits. They never quit in a game, they never quit in practice.”

Lane was also thrilled for his sophomore point guard, Silva.

“I have the utmost confidence in Ronnie, he’s fearless,” Lane said. “He proved tonight that he belongs.”

Do the Titans belong in the 16-team field?

Lane said that will all take care of itself with the rest of this week’s results as all the Titans can do now is relax and watch.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m just glad, whether this is our last game or not, they can go out on a positive note, feeling good about themselves.”