NASHUA – Holiday basketball tournaments in New England, in one way, are similar to the weather.
Don’t like the way you play last night? Don’t worry, there’s another game tomorrow.
One night after playing what coach Nate Mazerolle called a “sloppy” game, the Nashua High School South boys basketball team turned in one of its best performances Wednesday in the coach’s recent memory to defeat Thornton Academy 69-48 in the Chick-fil-A Holiday Tournament at South.
The win sends the Panthers into the championship game against Nashua North at 7:3o p.m. Thursday night, while the two-time defending champion Golden Trojans will play in the third-place game against Alvirne at 6.
“We talked about discipline being something that had to be a strength of ours,” Mazerolle said. “After the first 30 seconds of two or three bad, quick jump shots, that was our best effort of the year. It was as disciplined as we’ve been as a team in about three years.”
And that wasn’t all the Panthers did well. With Thronton play a two-three zone for most of the first half, South had to figure out a way to beat it, something the Panthers hadn’t been able to do against similar defenses in the past.
“They were playing a two-three zone, which for years has been our nemesis,” Mazerolle said. “Our interior passing, that was the best we’ve ever had. It opened everything, we made a couple of 3s because of it and we kept making those nice passes.”
On a night when Anthony Muccioli had just seven points, South got scoring from other sources. Jack Preston had a game-high 16 points while David Dunham and Armond McRae each added 11.
“Anthony Muccioli is our scorer, but he did a lot of other things well,” Mazerolle said. “If we can play like that and score that many points and he only has seven, and he wasn’t forcing anything or getting frustrated, he just did what he had to do. He did a nice job playing a team game. He’s going to have his scoring nights. I hope (Thursday) night. When we can be that balanced, it bodes well for the future.”
The game was tied at 13 going into the second quarter when South slowly started to pull away. The Panthers scored just six points over the first half of the quarter, but they were holding the Trojans scoreless at the same time. The scoring picked up, and by halftime, South had a 29-18 lead that it wouldn’t let dip below double digits. The Panthers opened the second half with a 14-5 run to go up by 20.
“They got a lead and they took care of the basketball,” Thornton coach Bob Davies said. “That’s a good basketball team that we played against. It’s a game of runs and you get a good team that gets on a couple of them, it’s hard to come back.”
Jeff Gelinas led the Trojans with 14 points while Dakota Tarbox added 12 markers and Adam Ek chipped in with 10.