NASHUA – The boys basketball team from Nashua High School North likes to run. So does its counterpart from Bishop Guertin.
So how did the Titans beat the Cardinals Thursday night? They slowed things down.
North was methodical in its offense when it had to be, and worked its way through trouble in the second half to knock off Bishop Guertin 61-56 on the road.
Ryan Gauthier scored 24 points and Javon Williams added 16 to lead the Titans (11-3 in Division I), who won for the seventh time in their last eight games. Jake Mellin also had nine points and Anthony Farmer chipped in with eight.
Bishop Guertin (8-6) got a game-high 26 points from Logan Kesty, while Joe McCarthy had 18 points for the Cardinals, but the rest of the team combined for just 12 points, something that coach Jim Migneault said can’t happen if the Cardinals are going to win games.
“I would rather have four or five guys scoring in double figures,” Migneault said. “We didn’t share the ball. There were times where we didn’t share the ball enough. We took some terrible shots. We’ve got to understand that everybody has to contribute.”
Both teams came into the game having won six of their last seven games, but the Cardinals had averaged 83 points in their previous three games. While Migneault would have liked the game played closer to that score, North coach Steve Lane wanted the Titans to do everything they could to keep it lower.
“I like to get up and down the floor, but this is a team that’s the same style as us,” Lane said. “I think they have more shooters than we do, so when they get in transition and get open looks, I thought we might get behind a little.
“The kids understood situations. We held the ball when we had to, we got layups when we had to, we were aggressive.”
North held a one-point lead at the end of the first, and a two-point lead at halftime, but both leads had been bigger. In the first, the Titans were up 13-7 before the Cardinals closed the quarter on a 7-2 run. In the second, North led 24-17 when Bishop Guertin ended the half with a 5-0 run.
The Titans increased their lead to seven to open the second half, going up 29-22 a little more than 90 seconds into the third quarter. Bishop Guertin took a timeout and got itself back into the game with a 10-0 run to take a three-point lead, the Cardinals first lead since early in the first quarter.
But instead of taking a timeout of his own, Lane let the Titans play.
“They went up three or four during that stretch in the third quarter, and the coaches were yelling ‘timeout, timeout,’ ” he said. “I said, this is the time where the kids have to figure it out. Let them handle the situation without bailing them out and they responded. We showed something right there. It saved a timeout and it helped them understand what they have to do to get back in a game.”
North got the lead back on a jumper by Williams and a layup by Dezron Wilson, but Kesty put Bishop Guertin back on top, 34-33, with a layup with 2:15 left in the quarter. It was the last time the Cardinals would have the lead.
The Titans led by four late in the third, but the Cardinals tied the game at 42 on two free throws by McCarthy early in the fourth. North again responded with a 9-3 run, and while Bishop Guertin was able to get within four points again, the Titans went up by eight points with 15.7 seconds left in the quarter. McCarthy hit a 3 with 10 seconds left to make it a five-point game.
“I liked how in the fourth quarter, we played it like a tournament,” Lane said. “Every win is a good win, I don’t care where you play and who you play against.”