Nashua South boys start fast, fend off Dover

NASHUA – Nashua South needed to have the intensity and urgency out of the gate.

Seniors Richie Mercado, Clay Medling and Tyler Bernard did exactly that and rocketed South out to a 14-0 run to open the game and never trailed as it dropped Dover 71-63 on Tuesday night at Nashua South High School.

“We (started fast) several times, we did it at Portsmouth. A couple other times, kind of the same way, we don’t sustain,” Nashua South coach Nate Mazzerolle said. “I know that’s tough to do. It’s hard to go 14-0 and then all of a sudden make it 30-0. It was a huge start. We talked about this like a tournament game, because in many ways, it is. In reality, we have to get one more and get a little help.

“The (start) was key for us, and just hang out for dear life.”

Mercado was special out of the gate.

He canned four 3s in the opening quarter and added three assists in the quarter to stake the Panthers to a 22-12 lead after one quarter and finished the night with a game-high 21 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals.

“We needed to get this win or we pretty much will be done,” Mercado said. “That was pretty much our only option (to come out strong) or it was pretty much over for us.”

The South bench kept the momentum with a 7-0 run to open the second quarter capped by a Cody Rocheleau three that made it 29-12.

Dover led by John Cantwell, showed some fight in the middle of the second.

Cantwell had a series of a rebound. Steal and a dish to Ty Vitko, who nailed a three that closed it to 33-22.

That was a theme in the quarter for the Green Wave, as they made four triples in the quarter, including Griffin Carloni’s with 30 seconds left in the quarter that made it 42-34 South at the half.

Mercado led the Panthers in the half with 12 points and four assists, while Bernard added nine points.

Dover crawled back and finally reset the game at 46-all with just under three minutes left in the third on Devin Cady drive.

That’s when the Panthers had to respond.

It was another Mercado three, one of his six on the night that put the Panthers up for good at 49-46.

The Green Wave drew it to a two-point deficit one final time when they trailed 54-52 with 7:13 to play in the game, but Mercado again came up huge on both ends.

He got a defensive rebound on one end and got to the basket at the other to stretch the lead back to four.

Mercado, Medling and Bernard all made huge plays down the stretch.

Bernard’s lay up with 1:42 to play made it 67-57 and put away the hard fought win.

“I’m very proud of them because I keep telling them how much I enjoy this group of seniors,” Mazzerolle said.

“Selfishly, I just want to have a practice beyond Friday night. For them to see the reality of what we needed to do and play the way they did at the end, it was just gutsy. It wasn’t pretty, a lot of turnovers, a lot of missed free throws, but it was just a gutsy win.”

Vitko scored a team-high 19 for Dover.

Nashua South (6-11) will host Keene on Friday night for Senior Night.

That game will be virtually a must-win to reach the postseason.

“We haven’t had a lot of momentum,” Mazzerolle said. “We’ve been playing well, other than the Central game, that was a bit of an anomaly.

A win at Winnacunnet, played well against Portsmouth, played well against Alvirne. In a really tough stretch, we’re playing our best basketball. You can tell them all you want, but when you keep losing, it’s hard to believe it. A win

affirms it.”