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March 14, 2018


Pittsfield History In The Making - Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team Brings Home The Championship!

Submitted By Diana Levesque

At a town meeting a couple of years ago, Ted Mitchell asserted, “The school is the heart of our town.” That sentiment was dramatically illustrated this week as our very own Pittsfield Panthers Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team made a run for the state championship and took home the banner for the first time in Pittsfield’s history!  


Pittsfield had been to the championship game only three times, in 1990, 1981, and 1969, and had taken second place all three times.  The 1981 team lost to Newmarket by two points.


The current team is led by six seniors who have been playing together since elementary school and dreaming about playing at Plymouth State University (PSU), site of the Division IV final four.  That dream came true on Monday, March 5th, when they routed Littleton 62-42 in their semifinal game.  Their dream was shared and rekindled for former Panthers and community members who attended the games and followed their progress.  “The community has really been behind us.  I can’t say enough about the community and the backing, the alumni,” Coach Jay Darrah said. “The ‘90s guys, the ’81 guys, they’ve all reached out to us...It’s great for the boys to have a following like this, and it’s even better for our community.”


On Saturday, March 10th, the Panthers returned to PSU to play the championship game against the Newmarket Mules, a team also known for heart and sportsmanship.  Pittsfield faced the Mules twice this year, losing the first meeting, the only loss they had this season.


Immediately after tip-off, Newmarket took the lead, but the first period saw two important Pittsfield 3-pointers by both Matt St. George and Cam Darrah, as well as great baskets by Josh Whittier, for whom Newmarket seemed to have few answers, and Garrett Guerrero-Hadley, who several times ran right through their defense.  Casey Clark played a fantastic defensive game opposite Newmarket’s star player, Anthony Senesombath, and Dylan Bocash took in some important rebounds. 


The Panthers kept the lead into halftime, with a last second bucket by Cam Darrah to make the score 23-19.  The battle intensified during the second half, and by the end of the third period, the Panthers were down by two.  Despite the closeness of the game, incredible sportsmanship was shown by both teams throughout.  Our own Panthers embody true team spirit, sharing the ball at every opportunity and getting contributions from everyone on the floor, including senior Brandon Bojarsky who came out with energy and drew an offensive foul on Newmarket player Craig Hounam, helping to put him in foul trouble.  


The battle waged on into the fourth, and with seven seconds left, Pittsfield was up by one point and got possession of the ball.  The strategy was to run the clock out, but Cam Darrah was fouled by Newmarket.  He walked up to the free throw line and sunk the first shot, and then the second.  Pittsfield was now up by three, but the Mules had possession of the ball with three seconds left on the clock.  The Mules called a timeout, came out and made a final bid for the basket, but the Panthers stopped them and the buzzer sounded.  The Pittsfield crowd went wild as the bench emptied and the entire team was on the floor.  Pittsfield history was made: STATE CHAMPIONS!


Under the leadership of Jay Darrah, the team participates in several fundraisers each year for the benefit of the community.  Their annual Nathan’s Fight, a night raising awareness for ALS, also directly benefits Nathan Vincent, a former Panther who is battling ALS. On February 17th, the Panthers held their annual Coaches Against Cancer fundraiser, and the entire team played on behalf of Carson Chagnon, a 4-year-old Pittsfield Youth Basketball Player who was diagnosed in June with kidney cancer.  After a lengthy surgery and 20 weeks of chemotherapy, Carson is in remission.  The varsity players and coaches welcomed Carson as honorary captain as he ran onto the court with Cam Darrah and joined the huddle with the team, another sweet community moment.


Head coach, Jay Darrah, was asked recently what makes the Pittsfield Panthers different from other teams.  Jay’s response, “Chemistry.  Chemistry is easy to talk about but really difficult to maintain.  How did we get it?  Combination of them being good friends, understanding what it means to be a good teammate, and most importantly, understanding their roles.”


Watch this team for one minute on or off the court, and you will immediately see what their coach means.  Jay went on to say, “Basketball more than anything is about handling moments, handling pressure, adjusting as the game goes on.  Add what we’re good at and maximize it to the best of our ability.  As talented as a few of our guys are, it’s really about the sum of our parts and how we connect as a group.  That makes us different and special.”


The Panthers have the benefit of the attention and experience of a coaching staff including four assistant coaches: Tony Martinez, Gary Colby, JT Colby and Dominic Brooks.  It is clear that the chemistry Jay spoke of is also shared by these fine coaches as they pour their hearts and souls into this team and every boy on it.


During the champioinship ceremony at the end of the game, Coach Jay Darrah handed out the medals as the other coaches and each player was named to come forward.  The last player called was Jay’s own son, Cam.  After a quick hug, Jay placed the medal around Cam’s neck, a moment Jay must have dreamed of ever since Cam was born.  In a heart-warming move, Cam took the medal from his neck and placed it on his father, embracing him again.


The Panthers were welcomed back into Pittsfield with a parade and members of the community standing in the cold, cheering for these amazing players and coaches who united a community.  Pittsfield’s Facebook pages “Positively Pittsfield, NH” and “I’m From Pittsfield and Remember…” have been deluged with well wishes and warm comments from townsfolk who have stated that these boys represent the good in our town and that they have given the town another reason to feel proud.  Sarah Marston Duval said, “This has stirred a pride in me for my hometown and school that I haven’t really felt in many years.  I loved seeing so many alumni at PSU the other night.  It goes to show how much heart our old town has.”


Tony Martinez, one of the dedicated assistant coaches, wrote this on social media the day of the Big Game: “This season has been filled with so many memorable moments, moments that will be remembered forever.  It’s all those moments that have led us here today, together… This team has brought a community together and has united the past and the present, old teammates, and re-sparked friendships that span decades.  This team has allowed many, especially those who have worn a Panther uniform, the ability to turn back the clock and remember just how amazing it is to dream and believe again... 32 minutes... 32 minutes to believe and yet again create a moment that will live forever.  We are Pittsfield!”


The boys will never forget the moment the last buzzer sounded and that, win or lose, they had already brought great pride to their community.  And neither will we.












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