Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friday 1/29 Lived Up to the Hype!

If you're wondering why it took me so long to post my thought's on tonight's BG/Merrimack game If you're wondering why it's because I had to take some time when I got home and cool down and gather myself so I could make sense of it. That's how intense this game was. And that's how electric the atmosphere was tonight at BG where Merrimack proved once again why they're the top ranked team in NH by defeating the Cardinals 58-55.

When I first walked into the gym tonight the place was PACKED. Not a seat in the house. Both BG's and Merrimack's student sections were crammed. There was a buzz in the air and a ton of energy filling the place up. All of this, and there was still 8 minutes till tip-off...of the JV GAME!!

As for the game itself, it initially looked as though it wouldn't live up to the hype and that Merrimack would run away with it. With 4:29 left in the second quarter is was 30-12 Merrimack and it was all Tomahawks. Merrimack was playing great basketball. And BG was only 2/13 shooting free throws in the first half which really hurt them. And in the first half they were really missing Connor Green, who was out once again with a sprained ankle.

Tomahawk freshman guard Dimitri Floras was brilliant in the first half. He had 14 14 of his team-high 20 in the first two quarters. In the second quarter, he stole a pass and took it himself on the break. He went up and dunked it with one hand. The kid's only a freshman, he's only 6'0" and he dunked it. And I know that the roster lists him at 6'2". But it's wrong. He's 6'0", MAYBE 6'1". You can't always go by the listed heights for players. A lot of rosters that I've seen this year are way off on some heights.

But BG started to chip away at the lead. After being down by as much as 18, they cut the lead to 11 at halftime. In the third quarter Guertin made an 11-0 run to cut the lead to just one, 42-41 with 1:14 left in the quarter. At this point the place was just going nuts. This run was aided by an Eric Watson technical foul.

You have to give BG credit for battling back like that. And the run was all about their defense. They really got after it on d, getting right in the faces of the Merrimack players. Guertin kept throwing in new players seemingly at every whistle, keeping fresh legs on the floor at all times. This allowed them to keep up that level of intensity, when Merrimack was starting to tire from playing their starters most of the game.

You also have to give the Tomahawks credit for withstanding that run. They answered Guertin's 11-0 run with a 7-0 run of their own, to push the lead right back up to 8. It was 49-41 with 5:25 left in the fourth.

BG kept fighting back though, getting the deficit smaller. The lead was around four to 6 for the next couple minutes. They started shooting better from the line which helped. They went 7/13 from the charity stripe in the second half, much better than the first half when they went 2/13. Guertin junior Sean McClung kept them in the game. He had a game-high 25 points, including 16 in the second half. He also nailed a huge three in the last minute of play.

With 7.9 Seconds left, it was Merrimack 56 BG 54. McClung was on the line for two with a chance to tie it up. What's more is that the player who sent McClung to the line was Watson, and it was his fifth foul. So if McClung makes both free throws here it goes to overtime Merrimack would have to play without arguably their most valuable player. Fortunately for Tomahawk fans however, McClung only made one of two.

Merrimack senior guard Matt Hardwick went to the line, hit both free throws. It was 58-55 Merrimack with just 2 seconds left. A last second desperation heave at the basket by BG was no good and it was over. The Merrimack student section stormed the court in celebration.

While Merrimack is obviously happy to get out there with a win, they only won by 3. If Connor Green was healthy and if Migneault was there, Guertin probably would have won. But you can always play the what if game. Fact is Merrimack went into a hostile environment and got a BIG win. They remain the only unbeaten team left in Class L.

Even after this game, these are STILL the two top teams in New Hampshire. The atmsosphere was incredible tonight, and it's not even the middle of the season yet. Imagine what it will be like if these two teams meet in Durham come March!

-Connor Green will miss another 2 1/2 weeks with his ankle injury.
-BG Head Coach Jim Migneault was suspended for this game due to the incident that occurred at the end of the Salem game. His top assistant, Marty Edwards, coached the team tonight in his absence. Migneault will return to the bench for the Cardinals next game on Tuesday.

Tonight's other big games

Central 57 Trinity 52

Boy, this must have been another good one. Trinity was clearly the favorite going in. But with a rivalry like this you can throw the records out the window. Not surprised that Doc Wheeler's team pulled it out. Gabe LaCount proved why is is one of the top 5 ranked sophomores in the state.

North 51 South 49
Again, another game where you can throw the records out the window. You would think North should be the favorite on paper. Not surprised this one went down to the wire. The Purple Panthers senior guard Jake Nelson is expected to return from his foot injury in the next couple games. I hear South Freshman Kaleb Joseph was excellent once again tonight. I saw him and Nelson in the same backcourt a little in the Rivier Fall League. They were fun to watch. Joseph has improved a lot since then though. I expect the two of them to really light it up once Nelson is healthy. Throw in Nilsson Basora and the Muccioli brothers and South is a team that will really shoot up the standings over the next few weeks. Just watch.

West 46 Memorial 45
I know it's not really fair to say that a team is reeling after they get beat on the road by one point against a very good team. But Memorial really needed this game. They needed a win here worse than West did, especially coming off their loss on Tuesday to Goffstown. Don't count out the Crusaders, though. They have some good pieces, and they have a very good coach who will be able to figure out how to right the ship.

Exeter 64 Pinkerton 61
Exeter is not a top 10 team. But they're also not as bad as the 2-5 record they went into tonight with. They were due for a win over someone besides Keene or Concord. More importantly, we continue to see how much parity there is in Class L. Pinkerton beat a VERY good West team on Tuesday, then lose to a struggling Exeter team tonight. Anything can happen baby!

Spaulding 51 Alvirne 50
You have to really give Spaulding credit. They lack experience, they lack depth and they don't have as much talent as the majority of the other teams in Class L. But they beat Timberlane by 20. Yeah, I know it's just Timberlane. But they still beat them by 20 which is a good for them. Then they hang right with Dover, giving the Green Wave all they could handle, On Tuesday they pushed Merrimack to the brink, almost handing the Tomahawks their first loss of the season. And tonight they pull off the biggest upset of the night by beating Alvirne. And this was a Broncos team that was 5-2 coming in, and was fresh off a big win over Dover on Monday night. Brad Mondoux and Brian Cronin give the Red Raiders two of the best shooters in the state. With those two, and the gritty, hard nosed play of forward Glenn Roderick, you can never count Spaulding out of a game.

How about some love for Class I?

Coe-Brown 74 John Stark 63
Even though Coe-Brown was at home, this DEFINITELY qualifies as an upset. Going into this game, Stark was #9, and Coe-Brown was #16 in my Class I Power Rankings. I saw Coe-Brown play a few times during fall league action. And I did NOT see a team capable of putting up 74 points in a game. It appears as though Comanches sophomore forward Skyler Mitchel got the better of his match-up down low with Generals 6'6" senior Ethan O'Neill. After seeing both of these teams play, Stark has a definite advantage over Coe-Brown in the backcourt. They have three guards in Greg LeBlond, Steve Johnstone and Tim Plunkett who are all better than any guards Coe-Brown has. So yeah, this score surprises me. Coe-Brown Head Coach Dave Smith has been doing this for over 30 years, though. He's a hall of fame coach. He has a smart basketball mind and his players really like playing for him. So for that reason, I'm not as surprised in the result of this game.

Bedford 61 Portsmouth 53

Other than their win over Souhegan, Bedford had played a VERY weak schedule going into tonight's game with Portsmouth. The Clippers meanwhile, came into this game fresh off of wins over Pembroke, Milford, Oyster River and Pelham. So even though this game was at Bedford, Portsmouth was definitely the favorite. But really when you look at these two teams on paper, it's not hard to fathom the Bulldogs pulling this one out. Down low, Joey Maher is just too big and too quick for Portsmouth's bigs. Tyler Weber has long enough arms to contest Mike Barton's jump shot. And Mike Marinelli has much more size and experience at the point guard position than Portsmouth's Billy Lane. Just like with Class L, this game shows that we have parity in Class I. When the #7 ranked team beats the #1 ranked team, that sure sounds like parity to me!


  1. You have the score wrong with the Bedford and Portsmouth game. Even though you said Bedford won, it says Port-63 Bedford-61

  2. Pelham blew a 22pt lead in the second quarter of the whittier game. Not sure what their 2nd half gameplan was.

  3. did anyone see the central v trinity game. it was close all the way to the end, and trinity never had the lead.

  4. How did mitchel get the better of O'Niel when O'niel had 27 points and Mitchel only scored 17?

  5. I actually said "it appears as though" he got the better of the match-up...I guess that's what I get for commenting on game's that I wasn't at!

  6. Central jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter - they were hitting everything. Wickey looked tremendous. First half seemed like everything Central did worked to perfection, all keyed off of the great outside shooting (Wickey hit at least one three, maybe two in that stretch). Trinity on the other hand turned the ball over a lot and weren't getting any real good looks. Trinity didn't really start clicking until the 3rd quarter - and Central's hot shooting really cooled off which is when things got interesting. Trinity got it to within 2 with about two minutes left, but then their players started to foul and put Central on the line. Hayden, Duffley and Stevens all fouled out of the game within a minute or so of each other once they had to foul to try and stop the clock and that was that. Really, really good game. Tons of atmosphere, student sections at their finest, and further proof of how wide open Class L really is this season.

  7. Merrimack has been picked to lose against West, Exeter, Central, North, Dover, and BG by various newspapers websites etc. Yet they are 8-0. At the game last night it was a college atmosphere for sure, Merrimack stepped off the bus and a couple hundred fans waiting in line for tickets were there to greet them with cheers it was like the team was a bunch of celebrities the reception they got walking in. Then of course once they got thier tickets the Merrimack student section filled up twice as fast as BG's and was full with 5 minutes left... during jv warmups......that is absolute dedication. They were louder throughout the game than the BG crowd and at times especially in the first half the student section perhaps said it best.IT WAS THEIR HOUSE. Merrimack weathered the storm in the second half and Dimitri played well. They pulled it out despite some questionable antics cough watson cough. Then the storming of the court was insane no one wants to play Merrimack that was the best game atmosphere there will be until Durham i would have to say it was insane. I hope thier is a rematch and maybe BG's
    Merrimack players will be able to hold back their tears after that one.

  8. I agree with a lot of your post, 12:29. But as far as I'm concerned, the only game so far this year where they were the underdog was the Dover game and I had the Green Wave as very small favorites, it was pretty much a pick-em. I had Merrimack has slight favorites last night with Green out. And honestly, if anyone had them as underdogs against Central, Exeter, North or West they were very misinformed!

  9. To say that no one wants to play Merrimack is not true. They have been playing well let's just hope they don't peak too early. They have been playing better than anyone as a team but in all honesty have a roster similiar to alot of teams in Class L.

  10. Jeremy, Bedford's winning goes beyond Maher, Marinelli, and Webber. The team has evolved since Dec and many other kids play significant roles and contribute to their winning effort. Senior Schappler, Juniors Olen and Beaulieu, and sophmores Glassman and Obrien, are being called upon to score key baskets or stiffle the oppositions offense. Bedford's strength is in their quickness, depth of skill and willingness to play as a team.

  11. 1:08 are you serious tell me a team in class L basketball that has a FRESHMAN as good as dimitri floras.

  12. jeremy 12:29 didnt say you predicted them lo lose those games they said that various newspapers forums websites blogs someone always predicted them to lose. they just flat out get it done when it counts.

  13. What's the deal with Nelson is he back? Sanborn back? How can Demitri not be mid way POY?

  14. another great game from Class I the other night: Hanover 54- Bow 52. Bow was up 19 to about 4 after first quarter and hanover clawed their way back and hit a game winning shot fading towards the baseline from about 16 feet with 1.5 seconds left. I know it wasn't as high quality as the class L games that you are discussing, but it was a great game to watch.

  15. 4:30, No one has freshman as good as him but why would teams be scared to play them? They are playing well as a team but it's not like they have overpowering roster. This isn't the Trinity team of a few years ago with several D1 kids. They are a good team right now but let's wait and see.

  16. I think Dimitri might be player of the year so far or Watson since Merrimack is undefeated but there is a long way to go and Merrimack still has to play GOOD class L teams. they dont start playing middle school girls just because they beat BG. the season is far from over.

  17. Thanks, 3:26. I probably would have talked about that game too, but I couldn't find the final score anywhere.

  18. Not to take anything away from Dimitri but he is in a much different situation than most of the other freshmen. He is surrounded by seniors and if your going to be a freshmen PG you better have good esperienced players around you. Add that to the fact that the entire roster can shoot allows Dimitri to create off the dribble. I am not sure that if you took Joseph from South and added him to that roster that you wouldn't be having the same discussion about him.

  19. 8:50 I never said that teams were scared to play them. Actually teams are looking foward to play them, in order to knock them off. But you cant say besides bg there is a starting line up with as good chemisty and talent as merrimacks.

  20. What was the incident that happened at the end of the BG Salem game that got Mignealt a 1 game suspension?


  21. Maybe not talent, but Winnacunnet definately has as good chemistry

  22. Mignault pushed salem AD. Plain and simple.

    Merrimack talent wise is as good as about six other six teams but they have been playing great ball!!

  23. I'm surprised the "incident" involving coach Migneault hasn't gotten more discussion. This isn't the first time he has lost control of his emotions...and may very well have cost his team a win friday night. Some of these coach's need to be reined in a little bit.

  24. The BG crowd did more with less. Merrimack only had home court advantage in the first half, when BG was down by close to 20. sorry but no crowd is going to stay in it under those circumstances. The second half was all BG. Both sides showed plenty of class and restraint as well. game was as evenly matched in the stands as it was on the court.

  25. Sorry but Merrimack doesnt scare me. They play GREAT defense i will give them that for sure. But they had absolutely no excuse for this game to even be close. BG played absolutely horrendous by their standards throughout the game. The officials didnt help and BG had a rough night at the charity stripe. Even without Mignault and Green BG should have won. Which is terrible for Merrimack. This game actually showed me that BG is the better squad for sure. If these teams meet again and the circumstances are different BG should win by twenty.

  26. I love how Merrimack fans and players will define their lives by this game. Probably one of their only wins over BG in any sport over the last few years. sounds like a pretty one sided "Rivalry". ask anyone from BG who their rival is they will say Exeter, who deserves it. Ask almost any team in NH who their rival is and they will say BG. go figure. Point is, dont expect anyone at BG to sweat this one. this will be looked at just like the Salem game, they played bad and still had a chance to win, but didnt. BG would probably love to play Merrimack again in the playoffs as a rematch. But no more than Salem. For one side this makes the season, and the other side has probably forgotten about it already.
    and the student sections were pretty even in the second half. First half was all Merrimack but cant really expect the crowd to stay in it in a 20 point deficit

  27. No basketball team over the last few years felt BG was their rival. This is the first time in a while where people think BG could win the title.

  28. If anyone wants to see chemistry check out a Nashua SOUTH FRESHMAN game! They'll be in a triple header with BJ on the 9th.

  29. BG played bad? Mcclung was great and Merrimack did stupid things and Watson's T totally changed momentum. and Merrimack may lose more often then win to BG but if you take all BG's Merrimack kids and add them to Merrimack who would win? even on the football team the starting QB and number 1 playmaker are from Merrimack. If everyone from merrimack went there they would be scary good this year and BG wouldnt even talk

  30. post 7:51
    guess what the merrimack kids go to BG, dont bring the what if. Those kids go to BG not Merrimack.

  31. except that they could have gone to merrimack and didnt want to?
    is that saying something?
    and yeah BG played bad they missed 16 free throws. which is not their strong suit but still no team should miss 16
    watching the game objectively i think BG is the much more talented team

  32. you cant single out one sport for a rivalry. everyone considers BG their rival to some point the proof is everyone nonstop bashing them on this site looking for any excuse to why you lost to them. and the fact that if any team beats BG in almost any sport they act like they won the SuperBowl.
    good thing it doesnt happen often

  33. McClung was far from great. Yeah he scored 25 or so but he took rediculous awful shots throughout the whole game just like the rest of the team. that was a result of not having migneault i think he is such a nut everyone is scared to take a bad shot.
    he really knows his stuff though