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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Merrimack barrels past Guertin in overtime

MERRIMACK – The Bishop Guertin High School boys basketball team was excited to be going to overtime after Jeff Lunn hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie Tuesday night’s Division I preliminary game against Merrimack.

Little did the Cardinals know that the Tomahawks had them right where they wanted them.

After scoring a combined 17 points in the third and fourth quarter – blowing a nine-point lead in the process – No. 7 Merrimack outscored No. 10 Bishop Guertin 11-0 in the four-minute overtime and knocked out the defending champs 62-51.

The ’Hawks (13-6) will now play one more game at home, thanks to No. 15 Dover’s 63-62 upset of No. 2 Salem. Merrimack will host the Green Wave at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“I thought it was a great high school basketball game, a great environment,” Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge said. “I thought we had the game won and they hit the big 3, which was incredible. That could have been a huge momentum swing, but it shows how resilient our kids are. They just wanted to win so bad, they came out and played an unbelievable overtime.”

It didn’t hurt that the ’Hawks had the last two seasons, when they were upset in the opening round on their home court, on their minds.

“Definitely (it was on their minds), right from the tip,” senior Tyler Gendron said. “We had to win this for (coach). We’ve been working so hard for him and we had to get this for him. We’ve been at this for so long. We didn’t want our season to end now.”

It looked like Merrimack might be getting to the quarterfinals a lot earlier than it did. With 44 seconds left in regulation, and the ’Hawks clinging to a 49-48 lead, the Cardinals moved the ball around, looking for the perfect opening. But every time a Bishop Guertin (10-9) player tried to drive, the opening was closed off.

Finally, with 12 seconds left, Joe McCarthy drove to the basket, but on his way, he got tied up with Eric Gendron and the Merrimack sophomore came away with the ball. The Cardinals fouled Gendron with 4.9 seconds left and he made both free throws – with a time out in between – giving Merrimack a 51-48 lead.

Bishop Guertin set up a play in the time out, but it wasn’t to get a 3-point attempt for Lunn.

“It wasn’t supposed to go to Jeff,” Bishop Guertin coach Jim Migneault said. “He’s a much better player than people think. He can be inside, he can be outside. He’s going to have a great year next year.”

Lun, who stepped into the starting lineup for Brad Holler (flu) and finished with a game-high 19 points, nailed the shot at the buzzer and celebrated at mid-court with his teammates. The Bishop Guertin crowd got fired up as well, as some of the students had to be kept from running onto the court.

But in the overtime, it was all Merrimack.

Dimitri Floras broke the tie with two of his 13 points, and Jared Peabody added a putback to make it 55-51 with 2:45 to play. The Cardinals turned the ball over three times in the extra session, the costliest coming on a steal by Eric Gendron that he turned into two of his team-high 17 points with 2:29 to go.

“It happens,” Migneault said. “You score a big bucket at the end and then your team comes out flat in the overtime. The kids played hard and that’s all I asked them to do. They moved the ball well. We needed to hit a couple more shots and we didn’t.”

at Merrimack

BISHOP GUERTIN (51)

Jeff Lun 8-2-19, Joe McCarthy 5-2-14, Logan Kesty 4-3-13, Cooper Paul 1-1-3, Nate Chartrand 1-0-2, Lucas Lansing, Steven Toscano, Jordan Corbin. Totals: 19-8-51.

MERRIMACK (62)

Eric Gendron 5-4-17, Tyler Gendron 5-1-13, Dimitri Floras 4-4-13, Dylan O’Brien 3-0-7, Jeff Giannelli 2-2-6, Jared Peabody 3-0-6, Brad Jarry, Kyle Richardson. Totals: 22-11-62.

BG (10-9) 22 5 17 12 0 – 51

Merrimack (13-6) 17 17 9 8 11 – 62

3-pointers: B-McCarthy 2, Kesty 2, Lunn. M-E. Gendron 3, T. Gendron 2, Floras, O’Brien. Next game: Merrimack will host No. 15 Dover in the quarterfinals Friday.