Merrimack scores 45-39 win over Memorial

Boys basketball | ’Hawks end regular season with stellar defensive performance.

MERRIMACK – For anyone that enjoyed defense, Merrimack was the place to be on Friday night.

In the final game of the regular season for both teams, Merrimack beat Manchester Memorial, 45-39.

Scoring was at a premium throughout most of the contest, with the teams combining for only 11 points in the first quarter, struggling to penetrate each other’s tight zone defenses.

The lack of early offense occurred for different reasons, however.

Memorial only shot 24 percent from the field during the first two quarters, with nearly 50 percent of its first-half points coming on a pair 3s from captain Jake Carrier.

Merrimack on the other hand had just over half as many shots, patiently seeking open shots that were generally not forthcoming.

The Tomahawks were able to finally open up a lead midway through the fourth quarter thanks to key 3-pointers from Ian Cummings and Owen Ploss, as well as continued shooting troubles for the Crusaders.

“We had two flashes to the high post, one by Manny (Alisandro), one by Elvin (Barbosa). Both were wide open and they just missed it and on the other end the other guys got the two 3s,” Memorial head coach Jack Quirk said. “That created separation.”

Shortly afterward, Memorial abandoned the zone for a press, a weakness for the Crusaders that was a necessity with time slowly ticking away.

“We’ve had mixed results this year, we’ve been up and down this year with it,” Quirk said. “The problem is with that is when we get into that, we give up a lot of points.”

Cummings (14) and Ploss (12) were Merrimack’s double-digit scorers, with Alisandro (16) and Carrier (13) reaching double figures for the Crusaders. Alisandro also contributed 10 rebounds in the losing effort.

Both teams await postseason play. Merrimack finishes the regular season with a record of 12-6 while Manchester Memorial ends its regular season just above the cut-off point for the playoffs with a record of 8-10.