Friday, December 19, 2014

Bedford Beats Londonderry in a Thriller on Last Second Shot

By: Jeremy Leveille
We're only a week into the season but Friday night's Bedford vs. Londonderry game may be the game of the year. Possibly the 2 best teams in the state, the game was played at a high level with high intensity, a packed crowd which made for a great atmosphere and a Bedford team that made a resilient comeback and last second shot to pull out the win.

Bedford trailed by as many as 10, and were down by 8 points in the 3rd quarter. But sophomore guard Alexis Meservey (first year varsity player) hit the shot of the game, a 3-pointer off a pass from Bri Purcell to cut the Londonderry lead to 52-51 with 35 seconds left. Jackie Luckhardt missed the front end of a 1-and-1 for the Lancers, and Bedford called timeout with 17.6 seconds left. The Bulldogs ran a terrific set play, with ball movement and player movement freeing Purcell up with room on the right wing. Purcell drove inside, finding 6-foot sophomore forward Jenoyce Laniyan, who made a spin move and power dribble before laying it in on the left side of the rim with 3 seconds left, sending the Bedford fans into a frenzy. A last second desperation heave from way downtown by Kelsey Coffey (game-high 27 points) was no good and Bedford wins 53-52.

2nd Half Surge Propels Memorial To Opening Night Victory Over Winnacunnet

By: Dustin Freeman
Discussion leading up to opening night for the Memorial Crusaders was centered around who they wouldn’t have on the floor. The message Memorial sent to Winnacunnet and the rest of NHIAA Division 1 is: they have plenty to win, even if Senior guard Trevon Maughn isn’t on the floor. What Memorial does have, is a strong 1-2 scoring punch in senior point forward Kabongo Ngalakalundi and Sophomore Craig Preston and supporting cast that makes open shots and understand their roles.

The first quarter was like a see saw, as Memorial jumped out strong after Ngalakalundi barreled down the lane for an easy deuce. Winnacunnet junior point guard Anthony Primavera answered back with a strong baseline jumper. 2 Free throws by Ngalakalundi were answered by a Primavera 3. Sophomore forward Freddy Schaake hit a three for the Warriors and Winnacunnet took an early 8-4 lead. Craig Preston and Primavera traded baskets and the back and fourth 1st quarter continued into a 17-17 deadlock. Primavera had 9 1st quarter points for Winnacunnet.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Choate Commits to Bowdoin

Taylor Choate was starting for Nashua North as a freshman. She was selected 1st team all-state as a sophomore. As a junior she scored her 1,000th career point and led the Titans to the Division I Final Four and as a senior she became the all-time leading scorer for North girls basketball. Now Choate has made her college decision, committing to attend and play basketball at Bowdoin College.

Bowdoin is located in Brunswick, Maine. They are part of the NESCAC, which is a very strong D-III conference for both academics and basketball.

"It was an easy decision for me" Choate told the NH Notebook. "I went on a visit there for a weekend in October. I liked the campus. I got a chance to practice with the team. Coach Shibles is really nice and so are all the girls. I played AAU with Hannah Cooke, who is on the team now as well. I wanted to play where they really wanted me instead of being just another player on the team."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Resilient Litts Leads Wilton Past Derryfield in D-IV Showdown

In a back-and-forth battle between 2 of the favorites in Division IV boys basketball, Wilton-Lyndeborough made the key plays down the stretch and they protected their home court by defeating Derryfield 59-52 on Wednesday night. Wilton senior guard Jordan was the guy who made most of those key plays, including 2 clutch outside jumpers and a pair of great passes and a steal. Litts finished with a team-high 19 points plus 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.

"My mindset is to do whatever I can to help the team, whether it be passing or scoring" said Litts, a 6-foot point guard. "We know Derryfield is always one of the teams to beat. Coach told us to play like it's a championship game."

When Litts was out there he made key plays, but staying on the court wasn't easy. He's the kind of player who gives 110% every second he's out there, who goes hard after loose balls and would run through walls if it meant helping his team. It's the right way to play the game, but unfortunately he suffered 3 injuries, 2 of which resulted in him having to leave the game due to blood on his jersey. Each time he got blood on his jersey he needed to change into a different one, so he accomplished the rare feat of wearing 3 different jerseys (#4, #43 and finally #31) all in the same game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

North Girls Earn Home Win Over Tough Dover Team

By: Jeremy Leveille
The Nashua North girls basketball team returns their 3 best players from a team that made the Final Four last year (Taylor Choate, Dezi Okorie and Sara Cordova). However the team the Titans beat last year in the quarterfinals also has a lot of talent coming back (Dover returns 6 of their top 7 players). Tuesday night in Nashua was the rematch, with Dover looking for revenge and North looking to prove that they're one of the teams to beat this season in Division I.

Early on Dover was the sharper team, as they took a 9-5 lead and after 1 quarter the Green Wave were on top 9-6. But then North went on a 14-0 run, forcing turnovers with their full court press and converting them into points. Dover was turning it over and when they did get looks they had a lot of shots in close barely rim out. North started running more, and the faster tempo was in their favor. Cordova (13 points) started hitting 3's, and Choate had a tremendous all-around game with a team-high 18 points to go with 7 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 assists. North led by double digits for much of the 2nd half, and went on to win 46-38.

Windham Hangs On, Survives St. Thomas’ Late Comeback Bid

By: Dustin Freeman

Windham 39 St Thomas 36
All preseason, I’ve heard about the Saints 'Big Three' of Reagan Williams, Ashley Coneys, and Mariah Desmarais. I rolled into the gym and saw two of the big three and only 8 bodies warming up for the Saints, 3 of which are freshman. Immediately, I wondered if St. Thomas could score enough points to get a big win over a tough Windham team.

Early on, offense was a major issue for the Saints, as Windham plays a great man to man defense and the Saints were having trouble executing their offense. The Jaguars communication on defense was impressive, as St. Thomas is a very small and quiet gym, you could really hear how much talking Windham does. The Saints could only muster 2 points in the 1st quarter and it was mostly because of how well Windham defended.

Brown Leads Pelham Past Campbell

By: Ross Laorenza
Keith Brown’s 23 points led the way for Pelham as they win their opener against Campbell 56-45. The junior, Brown, was matched up defensively on Zach Bergeon all night, holding him to 7 points. It was a great way to kick off the season in Division-III.

The three point shot played a crucial role in the game, but Coach Regan doesn’t want his team to depend on it. “If we live and die by the three, we’re not going to win many games like that.”

With Pelham leading 27-19 nearing the end of the 1st half, David Rogers launched one such three pointer that banked off glass and in, giving the Pythons a 30-19 edge at the break.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NH Sports Page Coaches for a Cause Jamboree - 2014 Recap

Great job by NH Sports Page putting on their jamboree over the weekend. An excellent event, it's fun to see much of the state;s top teams and players all in one place playing in some hard fought games. The NH Notebook was in the house at Londonderry High for Day 2 of the Jamboree on Saturday.

The big story of the day? Too many to just name one. Memorial has arguably the 2 best players in the state yet neither of them were in the lineup for the Crusader's game vs. Lebanon. Instead, the 2 best teams at the event were Central and Pembroke. Both teams were very impressive, especially Pembroke which has more height than many college teams. Keith Brown put on a show for Pelham, dropping 32 points in a double digit win over Trinity. Pelham is definitely the favorite in D-III, but Campbell, Conant, Berlin and Newport could all give the Pythons a run for their money. For D-II teams you had to be impressed with Portsmouth and Lebanon, who appear to be the favorites along with Bishop Brady.

Here's a recap of each of the 5 games played on Saturday.

Stacked Sunapee Team Runs Derryfield Out of Own Gym

By: Jeremy Leveille
We hyped up Sunapee as the preseason favorite in Division IV girls basketball. On Monday night vs. Derryfield they lived up to the hype. Sunapee was hitting on all cylinders, right from the opening tip. They were pressing full court on a made basket, forcing turnovers with their press and converting those turnovers into layups on the other end. Baskets for the Lakers were happening at a frantic pace. Just 2 and a half minutes into the game Sunapee was already on top 14-0. It was 29-4 Lakers after 1 quarter and at halftime Sunapee was up 55-6. In the 2nd half the Lakers took the press off, they rested their starters for most of the 4th quarter and cruised to the 78-12 victory.

"We like to get after people and start strong" said Lexi Hamilton, a junior guard who moved to Sunapee from Hanover right before the season started. "Ball pressure is key. And we had multiple people scoring, everyone is a force."

"We have been starting off our games well, each time we've scored at least 22 points in the 1st quarter" added Katie Frederick, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward.

Friday, December 12, 2014

BG Uses Depth, Pressure 'D' to Beat Trinity in Opener

Bishop Guertin was considered one of the preseason favorites in D-I girls basketball and they showed why on Friday night's season opener. They overcame a slow start (Trinity led 8-1 early on) to defeat Trinity 48-34. Depth was a huge factor, as 12 different kids got in the game for BG and they can all play. Head coach Jeremy Faulkner rotated them in and out, keeping fresh bodies on the floor and all 5 players out there played tough, in-your-face pressure defense.

"We had some early jitters" explained Coach Faulkner. "I could see it so I called a timeout to calm them down. Then we picked up our defense and created some turnovers."

The catalyst to BG picking up their defensive pressure, intensity and swinging of momentum was junior guard Marie Laplante. Laplante played hard, she played with heart, played great defense, forcing turnovers and diving on the floor for loose balls. She made good decisions with the basketball, knowing when to dish it off and when to take the shot, finishing with a game-high 13 points.

Girls Basketball Opener: Dover 49 Winnacunnet 38

By: Dustin Freeman
Making the short seacoast drive to Dover High School tonight, I thought I was walking in to watch a coin flip game that could go either way. Dover returns a talented nucleus for the 3rd straight year and Winnacunnet has a lot of talent. Each team goes about 6-7 deep. A toss up, right?

The biggest question marks coming into the game for Dover were: Will they finally reach their potential as a team by moving the ball and finding the open man? Or will they continue to be a group of strong individuals who underachieve as a team? For Winnacunnet: Depth, defense, and overall team speed were the issues that crossed my mind.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

NHIAA Girls Basketball Preview

First off, if you haven't read it yet check out our recap of last Saturday's Oyster River Jamboree. 12 teams were in action, including some of the top D-I and D-II teams. Here it is:

Next, get caught up on all of the transfers that happened over the off-season and what impact each one will have on the 2014-2015 high school basketball season. Here it is:

New head coaches include: Joe Vachon (Coe-Brown), Anne Haky (Windham), Kevin Gibbs (Trinity), Jason Corbeil (Pembroke), Nick Theos (Londonderry), Rich Parent (Milford).

Last year's champions were Londonderry (D-I), Merrimack Valley (D-II), Campbell (D-III) and Hinsdale (D-IV). None of them go into this season as favorites to repeat. Now, here's a closer look at each division...

Football Recruiting Videos

The high school football season is over, and it's now over for most college teams. It's the time of year colleges are really out on that recruiting trail, looking to find new players to join their program. As a result, it is a very important time for the Class of 2015 prospects.

Today we highlight 5 players who have put in a ton of work over the past 4 years and had tremendous senior seasons. Justin Poitras was a beast on both sides of the ball, especially at LB helping to lead a dominant Pinkerton defense and the Astros to an undefeated D-I title. Neil Vorster was widely regarded as the top lineman in the state. He's an animal on both sides of the ball and the guy in the trenches who opposing teams game plan around. Austin Homsey is a strong, physical kid with good speed and loves to hit people - another kid who was a force on both offense and defense. Christian Marquis is just a play maker. Whether it's returning kicks, intercepting passes on defense, catch a screen pass and breaking it for a big gain, or sprinting down field to catch a deep ball he is all over the field using his speed to make plays. Last but not least is Brendan McInnis, the best QB in the state. McInnis has the size, the arm strength, the foot speed and mechanics to be a scholarship player. And he's a winner, after leading Windham to an unbeaten D-II state title. Here's a look at each of their senior highlight videos.

Justin Poitras G/OLB, 6'0" 210 lbs., Pinkerton Academy

Neil Vorster, C/DE, 6'3" 270, Exeter HS

Austin Homsey, TE/OLB, 6'1" 210 lbs., Salem HS

Christian Marquis, SB/FS, 5'11" 170 lbs., Goffstown HS

Brendan McInnis, QB, 6'3" 215 lbs., Windham HS

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oyster River Girls Basketball Jamboree - 2014 Recap

The Oyster River Jamboree is annually a great kickoff event to kickoff the girls basketball season, with many top Division I and II teams in attendance. The event took place over the weekend, with the following teams participating - Portsmouth, Pembroke, St. Thomas, Merrimack, Trinity, Dover, Pinkerton, Merrimack Valley, Milford, Kennett, Coe-Brown and Oyster River.

Each scrimmage consisted of a 20 minute half, stopped time with the score being kept. The NH Notebook was in the house throughout the day to cover the action. There was one word that stands out from what we saw - parity. Teams played between 3-4 total scrimmages and nobody went undefeated. There wasn't 1 or 2 teams that stood out the most and dominated everybody. A lot of the teams looked pretty evenly matched.

D-II girls basketball in particular appears to be wide open. Of the teams we expect to be in D-II's top 9 this season, 7 of them were at the Oyster River Jamboree (Coe-Brown, Merrimack Valley, Milford, Pembroke, St. Thomas, Portsmouth, Oyster River) with not much separating any of them. Here's a closer look at what we saw from each team on Saturday (the others in our preseason top 9 are Hanover and Bishop Brady).

Friday, December 5, 2014

Neild Signs National Letter of Intent With Merrimack

Hannah Neild had a big junior season last year for Campbell High. Not only did she lead the Cougars to the Division III state championship but she was also named D-III girls basketball Player of the Year. After a year like that you can bet she had lots of colleges recruiting her. Neild has made her decision, signing a National Letter of Intent with Merrimack College.

It's rare for NH athletes to get a basketball scholarship. It's even more for an athlete who is legally deaf to do it. That makes this accomplishment by Neild even more impressive.

"It was a challenge to find the right school that I could pursue my academic interests and sports" Neild told the NH Notebook. "You can't visit them all and we visited a good amount. I had some D1 interest, the schools were in New York City and I did not want to go to school in the city. All of the NESCAC schools like Colby, Connecticut College and Bowdoin were great visits. I had a lot of interest from the Northeast 10 and my interest grew in those because of the competition level. All great schools - Assumption, SNHU, Saint Michael's, Saint Anselm's, The College of Saint Rose and of course, Merrimack. There were some great D3 schools that had my specific field of study - Springfield College, Union, Wheaton, Roger Williams and Endicott. THere were also many others, some out west and down south. However, I wanted to stay in New England. The amazing part was that all the visits had such great people and coaches, it made choosing difficult. If anyone reading this is considering these schools, you should know that every one of them has such great coaches and campuses. The hardest part of the recruiting process was having to tell these amazing coaches I was headed to Merrimack College."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Looking Back on 2014 Football Season

Today we announce our pick for NH Mr. Football, Defensive Player of the Year, Select our Game of the Year and take an early look at next season's favorites.

Our top candidates for NH Mr. Football are...

Elyjah Dejoie, Somersworth High - led the entire state in rushing yards and TDs.

Connor DiCesare, Portsmouth High - the Clippers' first year in D-I, thy had a ton of injuries and DiCesare was forced to shoulder the load and throw the ball a ton despite it being his first year as starting QB. He still managed to put up outstanding passing numbers and lead Portsmouth to a playoff berth.

Cavallaro Flew Under Radar in 2014

Jack Cavallaro had a great senior season and career for Hanover. As a team the Marauders struggled, and so Cavallaro flew under the radar. But there's no question he is one of the state's top senior players. Here's a link to his recruiting profile and game film on Hudl:

Cavallaro is undecided on a school for next year, but has been recruited by UNH, Cornell, Brown, Sacred Heart, Georgetown and Bryant. His brother Shawn is currently a freshman for the UNH football team.

Cavallaro is 6-foot-4, 220 lbs. He started on both sides of the ball, at TE and LB, plus snapped the ball on punts and kickoffs and returned kickoffs. He led Division II in tackles with 87, was 5th in receptions, 5th in rushing yards and 6th in rushing TDs. Look for him to be an impact player at the next level.