Hollis-Brookline knocks off Souhegan

AMHERST – It was Souhegan’s floor, with the game played at the Sabers’ pace and physicality.

Yet, it was Hollis Brookline which felt quite at home.

The Cavaliers put the clamps on rugged Matt McCool and Souhegan, posting the early-season upset, 45-39.

“Every game is important, to beat a team ahead of you, to get a good win on the road, it’s always big,” said Cavaliers senior Grant Snyder. “We wanted to play our game, HB basketball.”

With the win, Cole Etten’s Cavaliers move above the .500 mark at 4-3, while Souhegan drops to 4-2.

Nothing comes easy against the Sabers, who entered this one allowing only 40.0 points a game. And this one was no offensive Picasso by HB, which was missing both Wimmer Twins due to illness and/or injury.

But again, scratching and clawing for every point seemed to suit the Cavaliers just fine.

A Matt Dias 3-pointer closed the first with the Cavaliers up 9-6.

Snyder committed his third foul at 4:35 of the second quarter, sending him to the bench with HB on a tenuous lead.

There simply was no panic. Senior Ryan Coutu picked right up on the block, battling McCool for every inch and the Cavs carried a 17-16 advantage into the break.

“The next guy just came in, and he stepped up,” said Etten. “We put Ryan Coutu on McCool. He did a fantastic job the rest of the game, and the rest of the team did too. We did a really good job as a team. We defended him as a team.”

If you were Souhegan, you took the positive away that McCool (3 for 15 from the field on the night) had two points and zero field goals in the first half.

But HB was on a mission.

“I thought our guys came out and played really well tonight. From a defensive standpoint, we stuck to the game plan,” said Etten.

Snyder and Dias (team-high 14 points) had big hoops in the third as HB built a 35-30 lead that it simply never relinquished.

“Grant’s been tremendous. He’s been a great leader for the team,” said Etten. “He came in, and he had a great mentality in the second half. He was able to finish and get some big hoops for us.”

A stack of Cavs pitched in. Coutu finished with 10 points, while Rob Haytayan had five. Max Stapelfeld pitched in four and Adam Razzaboni knocked in a three.

The Snyder/Coutu matchup with McCool was definitely worth the price of a ticket. For the most part, the officials let them play and none of the combatants backed down.

“He’s got height. And it’s about being physical. We practiced all week and were ready to go,” said Snyder. “It was a great team effort. It’s about playing stronger. It was a good matchup.”

McCool closed with 10 for the Sabers. Mason Silk chipped in seven, and Brady Rudolf scored six. Mike Maroun and Curtis Redd pitched in five apiece for the Sabers.

For Peter Pierce’s Souhegan squad, Tuesday night was a learning experience as much as anything else.

“We’re young. We’re almost all juniors,” the coach said. “These are early games for some of these kids. They’re juniors who haven’t played any varsity basketball. This is a good game for these guys to play in. It gets steeper for us. We’re playing some really good teams and we have to get better. And we are.”

McCool, a junior, and Redd, a senior, may be seasoned guys, but they are helping bring the newcomers along.

On Tuesday night, though, the offense just never got moving.

“We didn’t shoot the ball very well. I thought we got a lot of good looks, and I thought we just didn’t capitalize on them,” said Pierce. “I thought maybe we rushed our offense when we really didn’t need to.

“It was a good game, low scoring game, lot of defense played, good rebounding.(Low scoring games) are us. That’s who we are. It magnifies all those offensive trips. For me, that’s how most playoff games are played. You have to learn how to play that way.”

Souhegan now travels to Pembroke on Friday night, while the Cavaliers will tend to their midterm exams before Tuesday night’s home date with Milford.