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Senior Kevin Putnam (2) of the Monadnock boys basketball team dribbles past Kearsarge’s Adrian McCarthy during their game Tuesday night in Swanzey.

SWANZEY — The Monadnock boys basketball team brought preseason No. 2 Kearsarge to the brink Tuesday night, leading by as many as nine points in the second quarter and staying within one possession until the final minute, but ultimately came up short, 47-39, in Swanzey.

Kearsarge senior Chris Stanchfield — who scored a game-high 18 points — hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the deal for the Cougars.

Stanchfield was a force all night, scoring six of the team’s seven points to start the game, but Monadnock’s tight defense kept everyone else at bay as the Huskies took a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.

“I thought we started out the game really strong,” said head coach Jim Hill. “We had a game plan and I thought we executed it in the first half to a T. We were with them the whole game, up until the last minute. I think our compete level is there.”

Monadnock came out with a balanced attack and plenty of defensive energy, as seniors Kevin Putnam (15 points) and Connor Branon (10 points) led the way for the Husky offense for much of the first eight minutes.

Senior Anthony Poanessa was a big part of the defense, coming up with key rebounds and blocks down the stretch.

The hot start was attributed to a good week of practice after Monadnock’s 72-40 loss to Gilford last Friday, Putnam said.

“Coming out of Gilford, we knew we had to ratchet it up,” Putnam said. “Going in we knew Kearsarge was going to be a tough team. We knew we had to bring it. We played a lot different, a lot smoother than we did against Gilford.”

Kearsarge started to chip away in the second quarter, but Monadnock held on to a 26-21 lead at the break.

Then Kearsarge came out in the third quarter on fire, taking a 30-29 lead around the halfway point of the frame after Stanchfield hit two free throws — the Cougars’ first lead of the game.

On the next possession, sophomore Ben Dean hit a three-pointer to give Monadnock the lead back, but by the end of the quarter, Kearsarge held a 37-36 lead.

Branon — Monadnock’s leading scorer at the time — got hit in the nose with a loose ball midway through the third quarter and had to sit out the rest of the quarter.

“Having Connor get hurt hurt us,” Hill said. “Hurt us from a substitution standpoint.”

Branon saw the floor again midway through the fourth quarter, when the game was tied at 39.

Starchfield hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 3:30 on the clock, then Connor Pillsbury drained two free throws on a 1-and-1 to extend the Cougar lead to 43-39.

Starchfield hit four more free throws in the final 30 seconds — two coming from a technical foul — to ice the game.

The Cougars went 7-for-8 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. That accounted for seven of Kearsage’s 10 fourth quarter points.

“We got into foul trouble,” Putnam said. “They got to the line a lot and made the foul shots.”

“As long as we’re competing hard, we can live and die with the wins and losses,” Hill said. “We’re competing hard, we’re listening, we’re coachable, we’re coming together as a team. That’s what matters.”

Monadnock (0-2) hosts Conant in a rivalry game Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

“I challenged them to bring the intensity to the next two practices,” Hill said. “That carries over into the games. Have to come into tomorrow as if we haven’t played a game yet. Just keep working, that’s all you can do.”

“Conant is our rival,” Putnam said. “It’s going to be a tough game, always is. We just have to bring it.”

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