20211214-SPT-KHSbball

Senior Nick Maiella (5) of the Keene High boys basketball team drives to the basket as Concord’s Brett Tuttle (20) defends during Monday’s game at Purbeck Gym in Keene.

Concord freshman Brett Tuttle will remember that last shot for a while.

The freshman guard hit a three-pointer with three seconds left in the fourth quarter — his only field goal of the night — to put the Tide over Keene, 53-52, in a barnburner at Purbeck Gym Monday night.

Keene’s defensive plan on that last play was to shut down Concord’s two leading scorers — junior Anthony Brock (19 points) and senior Tyler Clark Toy (22 points) — which they did.

But that left Tuttle open in the corner, and he took full advantage.

“I thought we did a really good job on the last play of taking away their strengths,” said Keene head coach Matt Azzaro. “The kids did a great job of doing what they were told to do, and No. 20 (Tuttle) made a great shot.”

Tuttle finished with six points, all coming in the fourth quarter. His other three points came from foul shots down the stretch.

Keene held a solid lead with three minutes to play in the third quarter — a 16-point lead to be exact — but Clark Toy and the Concord offense turned it on and by the end of the quarter, Keene’s lead was down to just three points.

Clark Toy scored 13 points in the third quarter, then another six in the final frame.

The Tide’s offensive momentum continued in the fourth quarter as Brock tied the game with a three-pointer on the first possession, then Clark Toy gave Concord its first lead of the night, 40-38, with seven minutes to play.

Those next seven minutes “had the intensity of a state championship game” Azzaro said, with Concord eventually coming up with the last shot.

“If we bring that kind of intensity every game, then we’re going to be fine,” Azzaro said. “In building the foundation for this program, it’s about taking those steps. It hurts, but it’s going to get better.

“It’s one of those things that we learn from,” Azzaro added. “I think it’s going to make us a better team down the stretch when we get to crunch time.”

Senior Nick Maiella, who finished with a team-high 18 points, hit two clutch shots down the stretch to keep Concord from pulling away, including a big three-pointer to bring the Blackbirds back within two points with 4:45 left in the fourth.

“He’s doing a great job,” Azzaro said. “He had a really good game, I thought. He hit some really big shots and he also took on the responsibility of guarding their best player and he did a pretty good job. He’s doing everything we can ever hope for him to do.”

Freshman Fitch Hennessey and junior Sam Timmer hit important shots down the stretch as well, as Hennessey (15 points) tied the game at 48 with a three-pointer and only 1:34 to play, then Timmer (11 points) gave the Blackbirds a 51-50 lead with one minute to play with a three-pointer of his own.

Keene had the opportunity to continue to pull ahead, but missed some important free throws late in the fourth quarter and Concord made them pay.

“I think we got a little too comfortable, that’s all,” Maiella said. “That’s something we have to work on is what to do in those scenarios. We just need to focus forward. We’re improving every day. This period of adjustment was expected.”

It’s Keene’s second tight loss in as many games to start the season, the first coming as a 54-47 loss to Nashua North on Friday night.

“They’ll come around,” Azzaro said. “They keep buying in and they keep working every practice. It’s going to change. When it clicks, it’s going to click. I’m excited for the game against South because I know the kind of energy these guys are going to bring. We have a bunch of really dedicated kids who want to compete.

“I look forward to practice tomorrow,” Azzaro added. “I wish we could practice right now, in a good way, because everything is fresh. Practice is fun, they really compete. We’ll get there. They have a lot of heart.”

Keene (0-2) next hosts Nashua South (1-1) Friday night at 7 p.m. before playing Goffstown and Trinity next week, two top teams in Division I.

Chris Detwiler can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1411, or cdetwiler@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Detwiler.