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Nashua North boys basketball play on to quarterfinals

NASHUA – Fortunately for Nashua North, a great start isn’t always needed for a win.

The Titans managed just one field goal during the first quarter, eventually bouncing back for a 54-41 victory over Concord in the first round of the NHIAA Division I boys basketball tournament on Wednesday.

Concord took a 12-3 lead by the end of the first quarter, outrebounding the Titans (10-3) and keeping the hosts without any scoring for the game’s first six-and-a-half minutes.

North slowly climbed back into the contest in the second quarter, heading into the half with a 20-14 disadvantage, with all but two of their points coming junior Nathan Kane.

Although the Titans began to wake up midway through the second quarter after finding themselves down by as many as 15 points, Kane believes that the true comeback started after a motivational halftime speech from North coach Steve Lane.

“It really hit us that this could be the last game of our season and we didn’t want to go out that way,” said Kane. “We just really started putting our all in and on defense, we just locked in.”

North took their first lead of the night just over three-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter and would not trail again as the Crimson Tide struggled to make shots and keep up with North’s amount of shots taken.

Concord coach James Thorpe credited the swing to the talent of North as well as the cruel twists that can often be found within the postseason.

“The start was definitely a big part of this game, but we just couldn’t continue scoring on that initial punch,” said Thorpe. “That’s just typical playoff-style basketball.”

North opened up a 37-28 lead by the end of the third, by which point the momentum had shifted permanently.

Lane was unsure why his team was not quite awake early in the contest, but feels confident this lull can be an isolated incident given what he saw in the second half.

“The defensive intensity picked up, we got some consecutive stops and we started to execute better on the offensive end,” he said. “When the ball goes in, things get a little easier on the defensive end. Things were ugly early on in terms of defense and ball movement, things we hang our hat on.”

Kane led all scorers with 20 points, with junior Samuel McElliott close behind with 14 points for the Titans.

“One kid I’m extremely happy for is Sam McElliott, he works just as hard as anyone in the program. Nights without practices, he’s finding a gym. He’s a true success story,” said Lane. “Nose to the grindstone, works hard defensively. I’m really happy for him.”

Seniors Ryan Canabrano and Angelo Gray each had nine points to lead Concord.

Concord finishes their year 8-11 including Wednesday’s loss. North is now 15-4 with the win and will face Merrimack at home on Saturday at 7 p.m. following Merrimack’s 41-39 win against Goffstown in other action on Wednesday evening.

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