Hollis Brookline boys basketball rides OT win into quarterfinals

Telegraph photo by HECTOR LONGO The Hollis Brookline bench can finally celebrate in the closing seconds of Tuesday night's playoff-opening overtime win against Laconia.

HOLLIS – Down 10 in the middle of the third quarter to 13th-seeded Laconia, angst flowed into Hollis Brookline High School, by the wave.

Only a couple nights ago, the No. 2 HB girls were run off this same floor in the quarters. Was more pain in the cards for coach Cole Etten’s Cavs?

“We kept our focus. We know how we can play,” said Cavalier guard Max Stapelfeld. “We never doubted ourselves. It was a bad situation. We just stayed confident and were able to make that run in the end.”

Stapelfeld, who had just two points in the first half, heated up in the second. His 16-point second half, plus a monster 31-point, 12-rebound performance from senior classmate Grant Snyder was just enough as the fourth-seeded Cavaliers rallied, forced overtime and ultimately slayed the Sachems, 61-55.

Friday night, Hollis Brookline will host fifth-seeded Hanover in the D-II quarterfinals here at 7 p.m.

“That’s a very good team. We will have to be ready to go,” said Snyder, whose team has now rolled up 14 straight victories, including a 70-63 decision over those incoming Marauders back a month ago. “We have to perfect what we didn’t do right tonight.”

Laconia certainly didn’t look like an 8-10 opponent on Tuesday night, giving the hosts all they could handle behind a 22-point, 14-rebound, 9-block effort from junior big man Demarco McKissic.

The Cavs were on life-support, trailing 35-25 with 2:48 left in the third. Someone forgot to tell Stapelfeld, though.

His late 3-pointer in the third finally allowed the Cavs a peek at the mountain-top, slicing the margin to 36-33, going to the fourth.

“We needed a big play. I had the ball in a good spot, and I just took it,” he said.

The fourth, and ultimately overtime, were an absolute slugfest.

Snyder drove and scored. McKissic drained a 12-footer.

Snyder gets hacked and knocks in a pair, McKissic followed with a putback.

The lead changed hands five times in the quarter.

Laconia’s Logan Paronto looked to land the knockout punch, breaking a 48-48 tie with a three inside the final minute. Nope. Stapelfeld drained a bomb of his own with 17.6 left, sending things to the extra session.

From there, it was all about three things — will, execution and attrition.

Cavalier role players like Ryan Coutu (5 points) and Robbie Haytayan (1 huge OT assist for a Stapelfeld layin) did their part. Stapelfeld and Snyder remained relentless.

But the upset-mined visitors lost the mighty McKissic to fouls with 2:48 left and the Sachems never recovered.

While Snyder was money from the opening tip, he knew on this night, he couldn’t go it alone offensively. He had to admire the second half by Stapelfeld.

“I have confidence in all my guys,” he said. “He’s a great player. And he works hard every day in practice.”