By Jean LeBlanc
BERLIN — Brothers Randy and Roger Belanger combined to score 26 points, leading the Berlin High School Unified team to a hard fought 28-22 victory over three-time defending champion Keene High School, in the quarterfinal round of the Unified basketball tourney played in Berlin on Monday.
The victory advanced the No. 3 ranked (8-0) Mountaineers to the semifinals against the No. 7 ranked (7-1) ConVal Cougars. The game is Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Berlin gymnasium. All fans attending are asked to bring a flash light for the pre-game ceremony.
The loss ended the year for the No.6 ranked (8-2) Keene Blackbirds. Keene has been the only championship team in the first three seasons of the Unified basketball tournament. Keene defeated Berlin last season 50-34 in the finals at SNHU.
The game was closely contested from beginning to end. In the first quarter, the Mounties led 9-7 on the strength of Roger Belanger's two hoops, brother Randy's bucket and a free throw, along with Julia Gray's hoop from long range to hold the two-point edge. Keene's Tim Deraps had all seven markers for the visitors on three hoops and a foul shot.
Keene grabbed the lead from the Mounties by outscoring them 7-4 in the second quarter for the one point halftime lead 14-13. DeRaps had two more hoops and teammate Mike Johnston added a three-pointer. The Mountaineers got single buckets from each Belanger.
Scoring got tougher and tougher for both teams in the second half. In the third quarter, Berlin held a 5-4 scoring edge to tie the game at 18-18, before heading into the final eight minutes of play. The Mounties got a hoop and a free throw from Roger and two free throws from Randy Belanger. DeRaps was carrying his team and added another hoop and two foul shots to add to his growing total.
Keene's DeRaps picked up his fifth foul in the fourth quarter, but not before he had added two more baskets to finish with a game high 19 points.
The Keene offense stalled after their loss of DeRaps. Berlin added 10 points in the fourth session to make the final score 28-22. Randy Belanger had the big quarter knocking down a three pointer, a hoop, and two foul shots in the final minute of play to give Berlin the insurance they were looking for. Brother Roger had the other Mountie hoop in the fourth quarter.
Randy 14 and Roger 12 points led the way for the locals. Unified basketball seldom sees a lot of free throw shooting. However, the Mounties were able to convert seven foul shots in the game to advance to the semi-finals.
Berlin's opponent tonight is No. 7 ConVal. The Cougars reached the semifinals with a 45-30 quarterfinal tourney win over No. 15 Spaulding. The winner of the game will advance to the finals to be played on Saturday at the University of NH gymnasium at 10 a.m. against the winner of No. 1 Exeter and No. 4 Somersworth.
BHS 09 04 05 10 28
KHS 07 07 04 04 22