Monday, March 20, 2017

Lebanon Defeats Coe-Brown 59-42 to Win D-II Title

By: Tuesday and Friday
Senior POY Ryan Milliken scored 23 points to lead Lebanon to their first basketball state title since 1998. The accomplished senior played all 32 minutes and did everything in this game to ensure the Raiders captured the championship plaque.

Milliken not only stirs the Lebanon drink, but he is also the ice cubes, the ingredients and the glass that holds everything in Lebanon boys’ basketball.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Portsmouth Wins Back-to-Back Undefeated Championships

Okay, this is going to be the understatement of the year. Portsmouth boys basketball is GOOD.

Portsmouth went undefeated last year in D-II, beating previously unbeaten Lebanon easily in the final. With their top 4 players all returning, the Clippers moved up to D-I this season. Portsmouth did it again, going undefeated. They beat Bedford 63-40 on Saturday afternoon to win the D-I title.

Moving up a division in basketball then going undefeated. This has never been done before in the NHIAA - until now. Portsmouth made history today.

Back-to-back undefeated seasons. 43-0. The Fourth state title in the last 11 years for Portsmouth under head coach Jim Mulvey, who is widely regarded as the best boys basketball coach in the NHIAA.

"Going undefeated my senior year - this is the greatest feeling in the world" said Portsmouth senior guard Christian Peete. "Back when we were in D-II we used to beat D-I teams in scrimmages. So I thought we'd be good, but I didn't think we'd go undefeated."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spenard Brothers Lead Coe-Brown to 63-52 Semi-final Victory Over Milford

By: Tuesday and Friday
Junior Scott Spenard scored 18 points and his older brother senior Shawn Spenard scored 11 to help Coe-Brown beat Milford to advance to the Title game this Saturday at Noon at UNH vs Lebanon. These 2 brothers are the double straws that stir the CB drink. Scott, with his angular drives to the basket and Shawn with his defense, good rebounding at 5’9, are the look-a-like Coe Brown Catalysts.

Milford had a good start to this game and seemed to relish the role of being the better seed. A Shane Winnett layup with 1:32 left in the 1st gave Milford a 12 – 4 lead. CB was looking for answers as they were struggling. It was almost like Scott Spenard said, “Climb on my back boys. I’ll get you back in the game.” In the next minute Spenard went on a 7 – 0 run. He had a runner, a 3 and another slash drive to close the CB deficit to 12 to 11 at the end of 1.

Lebanon Wins Convincingly Over Hollis-Brookline, Advancing to D-II Final

By: Ross Laorenza
The Lebanon Raiders advance to the D-II title game for the second straight year after a 50-36 win over Hollis-Brookline. The Raiders never trailed in the game while putting up a strong defensive effort. Ryan Milliken was a catalyst for the team's success tallying a game high 21 points.

"We're proud to get back here," said head coach Kieth Matte. "It's a good accomplishment. If people could ever see how much we ask of these kids..It's unbelievable how much time they put in, 12 months a year for this program. They put in so much training for these moments and I'm really happy for them."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pesky Peete Scores Zero Points to Lead Portsmouth over Winnacunnet 52 to 45

By: Tuesday and Friday
So, when was the last time you saw someone who scored ZERO points in a headline in leading their basketball team to a big victory? Probably never. After watching last night’s Portsmouth thrilling semi-final victory I can say with full confidence I had no problem putting Portsmouth 5’11 senior guard Christian Peete in the headline for this article. Here is Pesky Peete’s stat line: 0 points on 0 – 2 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, 1 assist and 1 steal. This isn’t exactly what you would call a player of the game stat line.

Let me give you one example of how Pesky Peete is a game changer. With 5:57 left in the 3rd period Portsmouth missed 2 FTs. On the 2nd missed FT the rebound was secured by a Winnacunnett Big. Peete came over to be a defensive pest and forced the Winny Big into deflecting the ball off his leg to give Portsmouth back possession of the ball. Peete did a similar play like this numerous times to Winnacunnett. When the Warriors shut down the Clippers defensively and gain possession of the ball Peete would scheme a way to steal the ball back or force a Warrior into a turnover to give the ball back to the Clippers. This would lead to more offensive time for Portsmouth and less offensive time for Winnacunnett.

Bedford Moves to D1 Final by Defeating Spaulding 47 to 35

By: Tuesday and Friday
Bedford seniors Liam Greene and Troy Meservey combined for 28 points to help lead Bedford to their first ever D1 Championship game to be played against Portsmouth on Saturday at 3:00 pm at UNH.

22% is all you need to know about this game. This is the percentage the Red Raiders shot in tonight’s game on 13 for 57 shooting. D1 POY, Cal Connelly, wasn’t even in double figures to start the 4th quarter. The Bedford defense combined with the cavernous shooting background of UNH spelled doom for the Red Raiders.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

BG Defeats Bedford 52-49 to Win 2nd Title in a Row

By: Tuesday and Friday
Senior Molly Dee and junior Caroline Hoffer combined for 31 points to help lead the Lady Cardinals to the state title at the Penmen Fieldhouse. Senior Meghan Cramb punctuated an excellent career by scoring 12 points in the title game.

For Sue Thomas’ Bedford squad the most important task to do in the first half of this game would be to take care of the ball and limit turnovers. The last time these 2 teams played at Bedford the Lady Bulldogs committed too many turnovers and were blown out by BG.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Big Night for Chartier Helps Bedford Down the Tomahawks

By: Ross Laorenza
The Bedford Bulldogs have advanced to the D-I semi finals after a 47-41 win over Merrimack. Junior guard, Max Chartier led the way offensively for the Bulldogs, scoring 24 of the team 47 points. Bedford opted for a zone defense which worked so well in the regular season match-up between the two squads. The Tomahawks struggled to crack the zone early one only managing 6 first quarter points.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

West Dominates Pembroke 67 to 42 to Advance to Quarterfinals

By: Tuesday and Friday
Jacobee Burpee scored 14 points and Gob Gob added 13 to lead a balanced team scoring effort in defeating Pembroke in the prelim playoff game. West will travel to Hollis/Brookline on Saturday at 7:00 pm to play a much anticipated quarterfinal game.

I’m driving swiftly down 293 to get to the historic Quinn gymnasium on the campus of West high school when a physical occurrence invades my body. I was so excited to see some playoff high school basketball that I forgot to eat dinner. Now, faced with the reality of high school playoff food of hot dogs, popcorn and skittles, my excitement for the night starts diminishing. I walk into the gym lobby of the historic Quinn gymnasium and was floored by the food selection. I had my choice of lobster rolls, steak tip subs and chicken parm on al dente pasta. Wow, the new principal at West, Ricky Dichard, is really going all out. It’s amazing when you get a new leader how a nice change can take place. Seeing that lobster is not usually in season on the west side of Manchester in the winter, I opted for the steak tip sub………

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Championship Saturday Round-up

By: Ross Laorenza
Saturday at SNHU featured four teams searching for a title, with one trying to cement their legacy in New Hampshire Highschool sports history. The D-III match-up between Monadnock and Contant was a hard-fought game won by the Huskies 44-36. Sunapee won their third straight D-IV title in the second game, 72-59 over Colebrook.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tempers Flare Between Cougars and Huskies

By: Ross Laorenza
A physical game lead to some extra pushing, shoving and a near punch thrown in Campbell's 61-52 win over Monadnock Regional. Late in the third period Sean French was knocked to the ground by Monadnock's Jake Wood as both players rushed for a loose ball. Wood had set some hard picks in the first half, all legal, but some Campbell players seemed to take offense. Joaquin Heller got in the face of Wood who then brushed him off. All players were separated and Heller was assessed a technical. Late in the fourth French was sent to the bench after aggressively challenging for a rebound and taking Monadnock's Tim Santaw to the ground in the process.

Soule Gives Verbal Commitment to BC

One of the top girls basketball talents to ever come out of New Hampshire has made her college decision. Taylor Soule, a resident of Lebanon, NH and a junior at Kimball Union Academy has given her verbal commitment to Boston College head coach Erik Johnson.

"I had offers from UNH, UMASS AMHERST, Marshall University, URI, Cincinnati, Delaware, Boston College, Fordham and Providence" Soule told the NH Notebook. "In the end I choose BC because of how the overall school made me feel. The campus is absolutely beautiful. The coaches are great and caring people who I know I will learn a lot from. I'm really excited."

BC is 9-18 on the season right now in ACC play. The ACC is one of the most competitive women's basketball leagues in the country.

"I know how competitive the ACC is so when choosing where I wanted to continue my basketball career I had to think about conference and what kind of program I wanted to be a part of" explained Soule, a 6-foot wing forward. "A school like Boston College who's sometimes perceived as a smaller named school, will have a lot to prove playing against some of the biggest names in women's college basketball but I know they play with heart and never back down. I want to be part of a team chasing something big while playing with purpose and I know that's what the people at BC are working hard to achieve."

Friday, February 10, 2017

North Upsets Spaulding in OT

By: Ross Laorenza
Nashua North improves to 6-6 after a 57-55 overtime victory over the Spaulding Red Raiders. With 9 seconds remaining in OT Spaulding was called for a 5 second violation on their inbounding attempt.

Ryan Lynn did a great job blocking any possible passing lanes using all of his 6'5" frame. Alonzo Linton caught the ensuing high, lobbing inbound for North and was fouled with 7.7 to go. Making 1 of 2 at the line the window was open for one final shot. Spaulding's Cal Connelly took an of balance three at the buzzer, but it was well short.

After the very frustrating loss Raiders coach Tim Cronin noted, "You can't just walk on the floor and win."

Friday, February 3, 2017

Lebanon Beats Brady to Remain Undefeated

In a game between arguably the two best teams in D-II girls basketball, Lebanon went on the road and beat Bishop Brady in convincing fashion, 47-31. Lebanon remains undefeated on the season - they are now 11-0, while Brady falls to 10-2. Both of Brady's losses have come to Lebanon. The Raiders led by as many as 17 (45-28).

"This was a good win for us" said Lebanon's legendary head coach Tim Kehoe. "I liked how we controlled the boards. We have some great leadership. Jojo (Joslin Wainwright) is a great leader and she controls the boards. It's not just the bigs - our guards were rebounding too. One concern I had coming in, was turnovers but I was pleased with how we controlled our turnovers."

Not only did Lebanon do a good job of protecting the basketball, they pressured the heck out of it on defense which led to numerous Bishop Brady turnovers. Lebanon played tenacious, intense, in-your-face man-to-man half court pressure defense. The Raiders completely took Brady out of their offensive rhythm, forcing turnovers and ill-advised 3-pointers. The Giants often settled for the outside shot and they weren't falling - Brady shot just 5/22 from downtown. Playing on such a small court, Lebanon's pressure 'D' smothered Brady - 3 times the Giants stepped out of bounds as a result.

"Defense is what we hang our hat on" said Coach Kehoe.

The Player of the Game for Lebanon was 6-foot-2 freshman forward Rebecca Wright, who poured in a game-high 20 points to go with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Wright had an impressive all-around game, especially considering she was going up against Brady's junior 6-footer Samantha Will, who has already been established as one of the top bigs in the state. Wright was a force inside all game long, and also made some nice passes from the perimeter.

"She's a player" said Coach Kehoe about Wright. "She's only 14. She also leads our team in 3's."

The Raiders jumped out to a 9-4 lead early on, but then Bishop Brady freshman guard Sofia Riccio slashed to the rim, driving with her left hand and finished with her left as well to cut the Lebanon lead to 9-6. Raiders sophomore guard Madeline Hastings (7 points) made a nice hustle play, diving on the floor for a loose ball. Lebanon scored on the other end, and it was 11-6 Raiders after 1 quarter.

Bishop Brady junior guard Lauren Roy came out firing to start the 2nd quarter, nailing a 3-pointer off the catch off a drive and kick-out by Caitlin Mallahan. Roy showed good form on the shot. Lebanon's lead was cut to 11-9. Still, you had to be impressed with the man-to-man pressure defense by Lebanon, really making Brady work for any point they got. Brady meanwhile was taking too many outside shots, they needed to take it to the basket more. Meanwhile, Lebanon was attacking the basket all game.

Wright made a strong move to the basket and finish inside. Lebanon got a quick bucket off another Bishop Brady turnover, which came as a result of Lebanon's pressure 'D'. Will (team-high 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks) made a nice block, and on the other end Will drained a 3-pointer. That cut the Raiders' lead to 15-12 with 4:05 left in the 1st half. Coach Kehoe called a timeout, and the Brady student section went nuts!

Lebanon started working their high-low sets, as Wainwright made a very good pass lobbing it from up top to Wright in the low post for a layup. Brady answered on the other end, quickly pushing the ball and getting it inside to Will for a layup. Lebanon's lead was down to 17-14. Brady continued to launch 3's and they weren't falling. Brady picked up their pressure 'D', forcing a 5 second inbound violation on Lebanon. On the other end Riccio drilled a 3-pointer and we were all tied up 17-17. The intensity on the part of both teams continued - Lebanon made two good passes on the same possession, setting up a layup attempt inside, but Will was there to make another nice block. At this point it looked like an even match-up!

Wainwright hustled after the boards, converting a put-back, as Lebanon went back on top 21-17. Bishop Brady junior point guard Sarah Doherty (transfer from Goffstown where she won a state title last year) cut back-door against the aggressive, over-playing Lebanon guards on 'D'. Doherty received the pass in the paint and flipped in the bucket, and-1. The aggressive pressure 'D' of Lebanon is very effective on a small court like this one. On the bigger floor at SNHU though, the opposing team can spread them out and have more room to operate, drive and run their offense. Lebanon maintained a slim 21-19 lead at halftime.

Give credit to the Raiders' defense, as they held Brady to just 12 points in the 2nd half. Lebanon sophomore guard Anna Wolke made a nice pass to Wainwright, who was cutting to the basket for a layup early in the 3rd quarter. Mallahan hit a bank shot inside for Brady. But then the Giants best player Will was forced to sit for a few minutes with foul trouble.

Due to the small court and pressure 'D' of Lebanon, Brady stepped out of bounds with the ball for the second time. These were costly turnovers. Raiders senior guard Josephine Brown converted a quick layup on the other end, and it was 28-21 Lebanon with 5:45 left in the 3rd quarter. Giants first-year head coach Annie Alosa was forced to call a timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

Out of the timeout the Raiders continued to add to their lead. Wright ran the floor in transition and converted a put-back. Just moments later Wright finished another layup, this time off a nice dish on the fast-break by Hastings. Lebanon now had a 32-21 lead. Brady answered back on the other end with a quick drive and layup in traffic by Doherty (7 points).

Wright made a nice pass on a high-low feed to Wainwright for a layup and a 34-23 Raiders lead. It was 34-25 Lebanon after 3.

"We run a lot of sets, and this was one team I thought the high-low sets would work well against" said Coach Kehoe. "I got that from Coach Bill Self of Kansas."

The standout freshman Wright continued to shine in the 4th quarter. She made a really nice move, getting the ball with her back to the basket around the foul line, then turned, used a drop step and made a strong move to the rim, hitting a tough leaner inside for 2. She has a good combination of strength and finesse as a young post player.

Doherty was keeping Brady alive, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Wright made a nice block on 'D'.

"It's nice having a 6-foot-2 kid protecting the rim for us" said Kehoe. "We haven't had that before."

Then it was Wainwright making a nice block for Lebanon on an attempted 3-pointer by Brady. Then the Giants stepped out of bounds with the ball for the third time. Wainwright (10 points) made a nice move, similar to the one Wright made earlier in the quarter - she got the ball around the foul line, back to the basket and then turned, took it to the rim for a strong finish. Lebanon led 39-28 with 2:35 left in regulation.

Wright continued to play outstanding basketball. This time, with Lebanon moving the ball around the perimeter to run the clock, Wright got the ball out on the right wing, saw she had an open driving lane so she took it to the rim, scoring over two defenders for a strong and-1 finish. The Raiders players on the court and their bench were pumped!

Lebanon extended their lead to 45-28, Brady continued to miss 3's. The Giants need to take higher percentage shots, especially against a team this good. The Raiders cruise to the 47-31 win.

Although Lebanon already beat Brady earlier this season, Coach Kehoe was more satisfied with this win. Not only did they pull out the win tonight on the road, but they did it without one of their best players, senior guard Meredith Melendy.

"Meredith tore her ACL in that other game against Brady" explained Coach Kehoe. "She is a hard worker, and was averaging about 15-16 points per game for us."

Wright has helped to pick up that scoring load. She will likely be a 1st team all-state selection as a freshman, and it will be the second year in a row that a freshman makes 1st team all-state in D-II girls basketball. Last year it was Hanover's Silke Milliman, who is now at Northfield Mount Hermon. So apparently the Upper Valley has all kinds of 6-footers who can play basketball coming up through the ranks these days!

Lebanon is not only the team to beat in D-II, they're one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the entire state, regardless of division. The Raiders took Bedford to overtime in the Queen City Holiday Tournament.

As good as Lebanon is, it's scary to think how good they'd be with Taylor Soule. Soule, a 6-foot junior forward just committed to Boston College on a basketball scholarship. Soule is from Lebanon, but has attended nearby Kimball Union Academy for all four years.

One other note on Lebanon - the entire game the Raiders bench cheers "Defense! Defense!" whenever their team is on 'D'. This may not seem like a big deal, but this does three things. 1 - it keeps the bench in the game, they're cheering the whole time, they're attentively watching the game so they're ready for when they go in. 2 - it pumps up the Lebanon players who are on the court. 3 - it intimidates the opposing team. A small thing that can make a big difference for the Raiders. They've done it as many years as I've been covering them under Coach Kehoe.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Laniyan Commits to St. A's

The Saint Anselm College women's basketball team has added another local standout to its 2017 recruiting class. Jenoyce Laniyan (Bedford, NH), one of the NHIAA's top prospects has committed to the Hawks.

Laniyan will join fellow granite-stater Kaitlyn Petrocelli (Merrimack, NH) at St. A's in the fall. The pair committed just days apart. Laniyan is 6-foot-1 and Petrocelli is 6-foot-2, so clearly head coach Julie Plant is looking to add more size to the roster. This isn't surprising, as two of the three seniors on this year's squad are 6-foot-1.

"This was a complete coincidence" said Laniyan, about her and Petrocelli both committing to St. A's at the same time. "I have known Kaitlyn from our days with the New England Crusaders. I am excited and look forward to playing with her."

Laniyan played for Manchester Memorial as a freshman before transferring to Bedford. She has developed her game there, as well as by playing with the NE Crusaders on the AAU circuit. She decided that St. A's was the best fit compared to the other schools recruiting her.

"It started out with a lot of interest from Division I schools" Laniyan explained. "They all happened to be too far away. I did visit one of them."

Laniyan has good strength and is very athletic for a player her size. She is expanding the range on her jump shot and is improving her post moves and footwork. She is a solid rebounder, post defender and runs the floor well in transition.

"I chose St. A's because I like the campus" Laniyan continued. "The team is a great fit as far as what they were looking for in me as a player. It is so much as in your style of play will fit in our system. Playing close to home is a bit of a factor for my family. Personally the fit is the deciding factor. I was comfortable with the coaching staff and the team. It helped that I know some of the players."

Laniyan's Bedford team was the runners-up in NHIAA D-I last season, falling to Bishop Guertin in the final. She hopes to get the Bulldogs back to the finals this season and in her career with a state championship.

"We have been working hard this season" Laniyan concluded. "If we all stay focused and continue to play together as a team we can win it all."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Winnacunnet Holds Off Late Charge by Trinity

By: Ross Laorenza
The Winnacunnet girls basketball team improved to 6-5 on the season with a 40-35 victory over Trinity. The Warriors led by 9 with under a minute and a half, but saw the Pioneers come on strong late in the 4th quarter. Two free throws from Emily Britton finally put the game out of reach.

"I think that Trinity never stopped playing, and in a game like this tempo was so important..." said Warriors head coach Cassie Turcotte. "Games are all about momentum and all about runs, and Trinity's run was well timed to narrow out that gap at the end, to make it a lot closer of a game than I was comfortable with."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Unbeaten Portsmouth Holds Off Bedford

Portsmouth won the D-II boys basketball state championship last year, going undefeated. They moved up to D-I this year and are now they best team in the NHIAA, regardless of division. Some people are even saying they don't think anyone will give Portsmouth a game all year.

Well, they got a game tonight. Bedford went in to Portsmouth's gym and gave the Clippers a heck of a battle. Bedford even had a lead in the 2nd half. It's hard to believe the Bulldogs lost their top 6 players off last year's team (5 graduated, 1 transfer).

Bedford put up a valiant effort, but Portsmouth grinded out a hard fought win, 56-42.

"We can beat these guys" Bedford head coach Mark Elmendorf said after the game, with a smile. "We want to see them again on March 18 at 3 o'clock. That's our goal - I'm going to tell my team that right now. This was a really good basketball game - I'm proud of the way we played."