FARMINGTON — It might have taken two years but the Kennett High boys’ basketball team successfully defended its crown by repeating as champions in the 42nd annual Mike Lee Holiday Basketball Bash in Farmington on Thursday. The Eagles rallied from a 12-point second-quarter deficit to defeat Concord Christian 55-46.

KHS, which won the tournament in 2019 and was canceled last year due to the coronavirus, went a perfect 4-0 in Farmington last week.

The Eagles handled Derryfield 65-46 on Sunday in the opener; topped Epping 64-34 on Tuesday; and bounced Portsmouth Christian 59-31 on Wednesday to punch their ticket to the championship game with Concord Christian.

Kennett outscored its opponents 243-153 or by an average score of 60-38.

Seniors Grady Livingston and Nick Houghton-LaClair were named to the Mike Lee Holiday Bash All-Tournament Team.

Livingston was selected as the most outstanding player in Thursday’s championship game.

“Grady was on fire,” said Jack Loynd, Eagles’ head coach. “He had 30 points — he did everything — shoot the three (he made six 3-pointers, drive the lane, dish the ball and rebound.”

It looked like it might be a long night early on for the boys from Conway. The Kingsmen came out red-hot in the opening quarter and got a big burst of momentum when talented 6’6” junior Isaac Jarvis had a wicked slam dunk midway through the frame.

Concord Christian led 19-9 after the opening 8 minutes and netted the first points of the second quarter for its biggest lead of the night.

“Things were not going our way,” Loynd said. “You know me, I don’t like to use timeouts early, but I took two quick ones to try to settle us down.”

He added: “After that, we started banging threes and next thing you knew it was 27-27. We’ve got grit. They were rolling on us, but this team never gives up and that lead evaporated in a hurry. Our defense got a little tighter and by midway into the third period I think we had imposed our will.”

The Eagles knocked down six 3-pointers in the second quarter to lead 31-29 at halftime.

Kennett extended the lead to 41-34 after three frames.

“I think our fitness paid off,” Loynd said. “We played four games in five days (after receiving a first-round bye as the defending champs), while (the Kingsmen) played five.”

Loynd praised his team for its defensive effort.

“Isaiah (Mojica) and Spencer Ballou did a great job all week,” he said. “The two of them held Portsmouth Christian’s leading scorer without a point. Evan Koroski did a great job on the defensive end, and we do have some size now. Alex (Clark) and Ben (Dougherty) are both pretty athletic, too, which is a big help.”

The Eagles held Jarvis to just seven points after he had ripped Coe-Brown Northwood Academy for 27 the night before.

Livingston, who had just one point in the first quarter, led all scorers with a game-high 30 points. Dougherty added eight; Houghton-LaClair, seven; and Clark and Monica, five each.

Against Epping, Dougherty led all scorers with 23 points, while Clark added 11; Mojica, nine; Houghton-LaClair, eight; Koroski, seven; Ballou, two; Livingston, two; and Daven Bailey, two.

In the Portsmouth Christian contest, Livingston paced Kennett with 23 points, while Clark and Mojica had eight apiece; Houghton-LaClair, seven; Koroski, five; Dougherty, four; Spencer Ogren, two; and Bailey, two.

“It was a great week,” said Loynd. “Concord Christian, Epping and Portsmouth Christian may be Division IV schools, but they’re very good DIV teams. I could see all there of them in the Final Four.”

He added: “It was a great tournament for us. I can see the team growing before my eyes. It was a great day for our school, too, with girls also winning. I think that’s the first time we’ve won the tournament the same year. The school spirit was tremendous. With COVID, we’re limited to just four family members per player at home games, so classmates haven’t been able to see this team in person until this tournament. Our fans always travel well, but there were a ton of them who made the trip to Farmington and filled a whole section of the gym. There’s nothing like high school basketball in a packed gym with a great crowd.”

Kennett (3-3 in Division II) returned to the regular-season hardwood on Monday night when it hosted (0-3) Merrimack Valley (results not known as of press time). The Eagles have two more contests on the schedule this week, hosting Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (1-3) on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (the game will be live-streamed on the Kennett Athletics YouTube channel), and then travel to Wolfeboro on Friday (6:30 p.m.) to play rival Kingswood (1-2).

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