CONWAY — It was just the season-opener on Friday night, but the Kennett High boys’ basketball team proved a few things in its 68-60 victory over Coe-Brown Northwood Academy on the road in Northwood. The Eagles proved they can play in a ruckus environment and that they’re not easily rattled.
The Bears are known for having one of the more spirited student bodies in the Granite State with its famed rock band, but it was the boys from Conway who knew all of the chords on Friday. The Eagles led by 14 going into the fourth quarter only to see Coe-Brown take a one-point lead with four minutes to play, but Coach Jack Loynd’s troops showed they are a resilient bunch, kept their composure, regained the lead and left town 1-0.
“It was a good game, a nice start,” Loynd said prior to practice on Monday. “(Norwood) can be a little crazy, it’s a high energy crowd. We shot the ball really well. We made 14-22 of threes. It’s a double-edged sword because we’re not going to shoot 14-22 every night.”
Senior Colby Livingston drained his first three three-pointers of the evening forcing the Bears to switch from a straight zone to a box-and-one defense on the red-hot point guard. The Eagles went on a little run just before the break to lead 32-24 at intermission.
Kennett extended the lead to 14 heading into the fourth quarter. Junior Wyatt Arriaga came off the bench and provided instant offense for the Eagles, scoring 23 points to lead all scorers on just 13 shots.
“Wyatt was on fire,” Loynd said, smiling. “He’s worked really, really hard on his game. He played for me in the KNBA (at the Kennett Middle School) in the seventh and eighth grades. Wyatt has worked on his game year-round and it's nice to see him have this sort of success.”
Coe-Brown made a run to open the fourth quarter and actually took the lead with four minutes to play.
“We kept our composure, made a couple of big shots to get the lead back and did a nice job at the foul line down the stretch,” Loynd said.
Loynd praised the play of sophomore Kyle Perry who put the defensive clamps on Division II All-State Second-Team performer Lucas McCusker, who was held to just 14 points.
“Kyle only scored one point but he was a huge part of the victory,” Loynd said. “He took the assignment of guarding McCusker and was relentless on defense. If he keeps working at it, he could be an elite defender.”
While Arriaga led the way with 23 points, Livingston added 17 points and junior Justin Olson had a solid all-around game with 12 points and 6 assists.
Kennett is scheduled to play its home-opener on Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) when Laconia (1-0) comes to town.
The Sachems opened their season Friday with a 65-37 rout on the road against Stevens (0-1) in Claremont.
“Laconia is a good team, they’ll be tough,” Loynd said.
KHS is slated to close out the week on Friday (6:30 p.m.) with a trip to Concord to play Pembroke Academy (1-0).
The Spartans topped Kingswood (0-1) in its opener at home on Friday, 80-57.