CLAREMONT — The Newport Tigers kicked off their season Friday night and faced off against their biggest rival in the city while the Cardinals were looking to take the next step after a late game basket lost them a game against Sunapee earlier in the week.
Stevens is ahead of Newport as the Tigers have been on and off again for weeks and just opened their season less than 24 hours earlier.
“We’re still getting our feet wet but it feels good to be playing,” said Newport head coach Bill Page.
The Cardinals were on a mission as they blasted ahead early and never looked back with the biggest noise coming off the hands of senior Owen Taylor who threw down a jam on a breakaway as the Cardinals were off to a flying start, 13-2. Newport came fighting back with hoops from Devyn Heino, Chase Hamilton and a three pointer by Garion LaCasse sliced the Cardinal lead to 13-9. Hunter LaRocque would end the Newport run as he closed out the quarter with 8 quick points to put the Cardinals up 21-11.
“We were ready tonight, after a hectic week we just wanted to play,” said Stevens head coach Ray Curren.
Clay Wadsworth picked the Newport offense with two quick steals and hoop as Stevens was on a roll. With Taylor and Brady Moote controlling the glass, Newport was limited to single shots. Curren opted to go with a small lineup for a stretch that placed JJ Tursky at the center position as the pace quickened. As the Cardinal lead grew, the scrappy Tigers were diving on the floor for loose balls as Hamilton was the recipient of a couple of floor burns.
The second half was more of the same as the Tigers just didn’t have that game tempo while the Cardinals were running full speed toward a win as players from both sides had the intensity of a big rivalry but the respect to help one another off the floor. Caden Ferland’s buzzer beater to end the third quarter doubled the score as everyone saw action tonight.
“Stevens played a great game tonight,” Page said. “They switched things up quite a bit tonight and keep you on your toes.”
Wadsworth would lead all scorers with 21 points while Moote and LaRocque would finish with nine points each and Taylor chipped in with seven points. For Newport it was Hamilton leading the way with nine points followed by LaCasse and Heino with five points each and Kyle Ashley with a couple of buckets.
These same two teams will square off in Newport on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.