HOLLIS – John Langlois was worried.
The Bedford High School boys basketball coach knew his team needed a kick before Wednesday’s game against Hollis Brookline.
He reminded them as they huddled before the game. He yelled it to them as they warmed up before the second half. He screamed it to them when the Bulldogs were in danger of letting it slip away.
Langlois did just enough. Bedford made enough free throws down the stretch and HB missed out on a few opportunities to fall 44-39. It was the Bulldogs’ second win over the Cavaliers this season, the first of which was a 28-point victory.
“I was very worried,” Langlois said. “Hollis had won four out of six. They just beat Con-Val (on Monday) by 40. They’re playing really hard and they’re playing together. They’re a good basketball team right now.”
The Cavs are playing better than they did in that first game, but that’s of little use to them now.
“It’s too late in the year to have moral victories,” HB coach Mike Soucy said. “Our goal from day one was to have an opportunity to play in the state tournament. I don’t know how many wins it’s going to take, but my guess is at least seven or eight. We’ve got some work to do. Every game that we check off the schedule makes the next game that much more important.”
Despite the loss, HB (5-9) still holds the 16th and final playoff spot by four-hundredths of a ratings point over Windham (5-10). With Goffstown (9-4), Souhegan (13-1), Sanborn (1-14) and Pelham (9-5) left on the schedule have a lot to do.
“I’ve got a bunch of warriors that aren’t going to quit,” Soucy said. “They know how close they are, but we’ve got to learn how to finish games.”
The Cavs didn’t start this one well. They took an early 7-6 lead, but Bedford responded with a 14-4 run to take a 20-11 lead with 5:18 to play in the first half. The Cavs got back within five points, but struggled from the field, struggled on the boards and turned the ball over 11 times in the first half.
“We didn’t rebound in the first half,” Soucy said. “Most of their points came off offensive rebounds or fouls, where we fouled them because we didn’t rebound. We missed some shots that we’d like to have back.
“I told them coming in, there were a couple of things we needed to do. We had to guard. We had to rebound. We had to make some shots. Those shots obviously did not fall. We scored 15 points and that’s not going to get it done.”
Bedford went up 13 points early in the third, but both teams went dry from the field. While the Cavs had some trouble with the Bulldogs’ pressure zone in the first half, they began to find some openings in the second half.
HB closed the third quarter on a 12-2 run, including a 3-pointer by Connor Walsh with seconds left before the end of the frame that made it a three-point game.
“Our defense is very good and second half it broke down a little bit,” Langlois said. “They hit some shots, too. That’s going to happen.”
Walsh hit a layup early in the fourth to make it 32-31, but a free throw by Bedford’s Cameron Meservey made it a two-point game. Both teams went cold again until a 3 by Trevor Glassman, who finished with a game-high 15 points, gave Bedford a 36-31 lead.
The Cavs had opportunities, but couldn’t take advantage.
“We dug ourselves an 11-point hole and against a good team, that’s difficult to dig yourself out of,” Soucy said. “We did, we got it to one, and then we got sloppy with the ball. It’s unfortunate because we had a couple of opportunities to tie or take the lead.”
Bedford appeared to put the game away on a layup by James Caparell, but HB made it a four-point game on a 3 by PJ Flaum. The Bulldogs, who shot made just 17 of 31 from the free throw line, hit 4 of 6 to get up by six, but again, HB got a 3 from James Wilson to make it 42-39 with 23 seconds left.
The Cavs were forced to foul, and Glassman made two free throws to put Bedford up by five. HB missed a 3 at the other end, and was forced to foul again with 10 seconds left. This time, Caparell missed the two foul shots, but the Cavs again missed a 3 to end the game.
“They cut it to one and we hung tough,” Langlois said. “We’re usually a 70 percent foul shooting team. We missed one, then we missed another one, and then we missed another. We were making some good ones down the stretch. I’m pretty confident in most of our players on the foul line. We’re happy about the win obviously.”