LaCount Leads Manchester Central to Win Over Trinity (NH)
by Julia Maldonado
In one of the biggest turnouts in recent history at the Kevin T. McHugh Gymnasium, the Manchester Central Little Green traveled just up the road to city rival Trinity and defeated the Pioneers 41-40 in a game decided in the final minute.
Trinity held a slim lead over Central for nearly the entire game, but could not maintain it due in large part to the impressive 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists from Central’s senior guard Gabriel LaCount.
The intensity of the match-up was evident just after Trinity won the tip-off, as both teams applied pressure and denied driving lanes to the basket. The 8-4 score after the first quarter favored Trinity, who collected six rebounds, had four steals and one block to slow down the Little Green offense.
In the second quarter, the scoring pattern became more balanced with both teams exchanging baskets. Central turned to LaCount, who had seven points in the quarter, to give his team the energy needed going into the break. Trinity still led 21-17 after the first half.
The Trinity and Central student sections never let up in cheering for their respective teams, which is indicative of the importance of the game, as the meaning transcends the result and represents the pride of the city of Manchester.
“(The noise) makes me play smarter and more focused,” said LaCount after the win.
Central's 6-foot-3 senior Christian Artiga had his hands full all night with the taller with Trinity front line of 6-foot-6 Andrew Lauderdale and 6-foot-10 Silvere Aluko. Ortega held his position on the post and demonstrated his ability to bring down rebounds despite Trinity’s height advantage. Artiga’s rebounding played a crucial role in the second half, for it gave Central opportunities to put up second shots or reset their offense.
Trinity remained ahead with a 32-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but as the quarter progressed, Central increased their pressure to a full-court man-to-man defense and started making shots at a higher rate.
When asked about his team’s approach to tight games like these, LaCount shared a saying that Central head coach David “Doc” Wheeler regularly uses to inspire his players.
(Coach Wheeler) always tells us to ‘instill our own will into the game,’ to have mental toughness and to pull through,” said LaCount.
It was LaCount who made the two made free to put the Little Green ahead 36-34 for the first time with just over three minutes to go in the game. LaCount followed with a jump shot to extend the lead to four, but shortly thereafter, Trinity’s sophomore guard Carmen Giampetruzzi made two shots to level the score at 38-38.
Central sophomore guard Dawson Dickson’s 3-pointer put the visitors ahead once again with under a minute to play, and after Trinity’s Mabor Gabriel closed the gap to 1, the Pioneers were forced to commit three straight fouls with only seconds left on the clock to reach seven team fouls and send Central to the line to shoot 1-and-1.
With 4.0 seconds remaining in the game and no time outs left for either team, Central missed the free throw, which allowed Trinity’s Gabriel to rebound and throw the ball the length of the court to senior guard Jake Hamel. Hamel’s shot at the buzzer came up short, and the Central student section rushed the court to congratulate the Little Green who had brought Trinity’s undefeated streak to an end with the 41-40 win.
Central senior forward Thaddeus Brown Jr., who started playing on the team his sophomore year, admitted that he had never seen a crowd so big, and described it as one of the most intense games he had ever played in.
“We knew they (Trinity) were big,” said Brown. “I think we held them pretty well. We just went to work, and it feels great to beat them knowing that they are number one (right now).”
Trinity was the last team to lose in Division I, and the loss gives them a 4-1 record, while Central moves to 3-2.
LaCount led Central with 17 points, followed by Brown with 9 and junior guard Troy Pelletier with 6. Gabriel lead Trinity with 10 points, followed closely by freshman point guard Ian Sistare and Giampetruzzi with 6.
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