By Tris Wykes
WEST CANAAN – Ben Seiler and his Mascoma High basketball teammates weren’t going to wait around Thursday. The junior forward entered a clash with visiting Sunapee needing 16 points to reach 1,000 in his career and did so with an unhurried, 3-point shot from the right corner with 1 minute, 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The NHIAA Division III Royals held an 18-point lead over the Division IV Lakers by that point, en route to a 68-45 victory that improved the hosts to 7-4 this season. Mascoma’s losses each came against Lebanon and Hanover, a pair of Division II foes.
“It’s exciting to see,” said Mascoma coach Silas Ayres, who scored more than 1,000 points during his own Royals career. “I hadn’t thought about mine for a while but I thought about it tonight.
“I told Ben that (his) first quarter tonight was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a high school basketball game. I remember being pretty nervous before my (1,000th-point game) but it seems like no moment’s too big for him.”
Seiler said he didn’t change his game-day routine Thursday, arriving at school about two hours before the varsity tip-off to practice shooting until chased off the court for the JV game.
“Coach told me to get (the record) within the game, to not force it and just let it come,” Seiler said. “I wasn’t actually sure that shot was the one that was going to get me there. I debated on whether to shoot it or not, but then it went in. I saw my friend, Noah (Lecuyer), look at me and I knew it was the one.”
Seiler finished the first half with 28 points and although he played significant minutes after intermission, repeatedly passed up scoring chances for passes. It was a notable sign of maturity for an athlete who hasn’t always been poised during a standout career on the soccer pitch and basketball court.
“Last year we’d just feed it to Ben,” Ayres said. “But this year, with the guys we have around him, I asked him to get his teammates the ball. When we need you, you can do what you do, and he’s been doing such a good job of that.
“We move the basketball so well and all his points come in the flow of the game.”
Mascoma scored 17 of Wednesday’s first 19 points and led, 24-8, after a quarter. The Royals were up, 45-18, at halftime and substituted liberally the rest of the way. Sunapee fell to 9-5.
“A tough two nights,” said Sunapee coach Tim Puchtler, whose team lost to Mascoma at home on Wednesday, 78-53, and allowed Seiler 27 points. “You have to know where he is on the floor, plain and simple. We kept losing track of him and I don’t know why, because he was pretty much in the same spot, getting shots off all night long.
“We’re not seeing people down at our level in Division IV, guys who can catch and shoot like him.”
Said Seiler: “It’s a good personal achievement but we’re looking for something bigger. It’s a team game and my teammates are pretty talented, so I have to share the ball.”
Mascoma received 10 points from Gabe Rock and 8 from Connor Thompson. Sunapee’s Harper Flint had 14 points. The Royals conclude the regular season next week with a pair of contests against Division III Newfound before the come-one, come-all playoffs are scheduled to begin.
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