Timberlane (N.H.) snaps 81-game losing skid

Like a golfer whose only birdie comes on 18th hole, the highlight of the Timberlane Regional (Plaistow, N.H.) boys basketball team’s season came in its final game.

Timberlane carried an 81-game losing streak against Division I competition into Friday night’s matchup with Keene, but ended that drought by punctuating the regular season with a 71-56 victory at Keene’s Purbeck Gymnasium.

It was Timberlane’s first victory in league play since it defeated Concord 71-61 on Jan. 29, 2010.

“We didn’t talk much after the game, but there was a lot of emotion let out,” said second-year Timberlane coach Jeff Baumann. “It was a good bus ride home.

“I’m very proud of how we’ve competed all season. The team was getting better all year, that’s just a relative term.”

Senior guard Erik Nelson led Timberlane with 24 points. The Owls received 14 points from sophomore point guard Jason Hughes and 12 from junior forward Cam Donnelly. The loss left Keene (0-15) as the only winless team in Division I.

Timberlane did beat Traip Academy of Kittery, Maine, in 2011, but that victory came during a holiday tournament and did not count in the regular-season standings.

Timberlane and Keene were tied at halftime, but Timberlane took control by outscoring Keene 18-9 in third quarter. The Owls opened the quarter with a 14-2 run.

Timberlane’s streak was seven shy of the national all-time record. Mifflinburg (Penn.) Area High School ended an 88-game losing streak in 1976.

Friday night’s contest was the final Division I game for the Owls, who will drop to Division II next season.

“This is a nice way to go into the offseason,” Baumann said. “We were confident coming in that we could win this one. Getting this off our back will be beneficial moving forward.”