Sunday, November 22, 2009

West Beats Trinity...and More

I thought that Trinity would beat West tonight, or if West did win it would be a close game. But just like my decision to include "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry on a mix CD that I made for my girlfriend's mother, I was wrong. Here are my thoughts on Trinity/West plus tonight's other big games:

My Take on Trinity/West
West beat Trinity tonight 53-41. Anytime there is a matchup between two of the four Manchester schools, it is always a must-see game. These schools have great rivalries, and the gyms are always packed. Tonight both Trinity's and West's student sections were packed, and they were loud. It was a great atmosphere at West High.

Going into this game, Trinity's Phil Hayden had bee playing on a bum ankle. He was going to give it a go once again tonight. Hayden played, but was not 100%, and wasn't able to go at it full boar. Before the game started, I received word that Gordon Duffley was out for this game with a migraine. He played for Trinity on Tuesday, but he didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday due to the migraines. So with Duffley out, and Hayden playing at less than 100%, the door was open for West to pull out the W.

I wasn't surprised that the Blue Knights won this game, but I was surprised with how much they won by. They set the tempo early, and controlled the game from start to finish. Two minutes into the game, the score was Richard Valentin 8 Trinity 0. Valentin was on fire tonight, especially in the first half. He is the quickest player off the dribble in Class L. He made two separate drives where he beat his defender and took it to the rim. Both times Trinity's 6'9" center Sylvere came over to help on defense and try and block the shot. Both times Valentin put the ball off the glass and in...against a player 11 inches taller than him! Plus one of the two buckets was an and-one. He also had a sick crossover dribble then banked the shot off the glass from 17 feet away, and then made a very nice floater in the lane. Valentin had the game's first 8 points, 16 in the first half and a game-high 23 total points.

West has more than just Valentin, though. They play 6 kids and they are all VERY fast and VERY athletic. They're the fastest team in NH. Yes, they're even faster than BG. West uses that speed to play pressure defense, force turnovers, they are so quick that they get EVERY loose ball and then they get out and run, and they're extremely fast in transition. The other 5 players in the rotation are Sammy Abdalla, Quintin Hunter, Aaron Martin, Jose Gonzalez and Greg Asselin. Abdalla and Hunter are as fast and athletic as anyone in the state.

I already knew that the Blue Knights had good athletes and good skill. The main weakness that I saw in West at the QCIBT was discipline. They were playing so fast that they would make silly turnovers, silly fouls and had poor shot selection. For the most part tonight, they played disciplined basketball. They were able to play at a very fast speed while still staying in control and take good shots.

So what went wrong tonight for Trinity? Well David Madol only scored 5 points. This is a kid that has been averaging about 19-20 points a game so far this season, and he was VERY quiet tonight. He just didn't get enough touches, and when he did get the ball, Gonzalez and Asselin played some great defense on him. Like I said, West had some great team speed, they got the loose balls and they forced turnovers. Zach Stevens has been averaging 14-15 points a game so far and he only had 9 tonight. Madol and Stevens combined for just 6 points in the first half.

This was clearly not Trinity's best game. Duffley being out and Hayden being slowed by the ankle hurt them. But even if they're healthy, Trinity is a good team but still has some things to work on if they want to make it to Durham.

As for West, this was a very good win for them. The key for them now will be consistency. They're clearly playing excellent basketball right now. But they have to keep building on this win and not get complacent. They also have to keep all of their kids on the court and out of trouble.

"I'm not worried about the on-court stuff" said West Head Coach Sam Carey. "I'm worried about the off-court stuff. I have meetings with each player everyday to see how they're doing in school and trying to help them stay out of trouble. I keep telling them they have a chance to be REALLY good if they can just stay on the team."

One final note on this game. Each team had a scary moment in the fourth quarter when key players went down with injuries. Abdalla went down for West with 6 minutes left in the game, and Trinity's Madol had to be helped off the floor just a minute and a half later. Neither player returned to the game. These would have been major injuries if they turned out to be serious. But fortunately for both teams they were just cramps, and both players are fine.

My Take on the other big games tonight:

Boy, was this a surprise! Winnacunnet wins it easily, 45-29. Memorial had two big injuries in the QCIBT, Matt Couture and Shomari Morgan. Couture was back to 100% before tonight's game. Morgan has been playing, but he's not 100%. I wasn't at this game, but I'm guessing Morgan was slowed in this game by the ankle and that was a factor. Still, Winnacunnet was in complete control of this one all the way, and especially playing at Memorial this was an impressive win for the Warriors. Since this game was at Memorial, it was the same gym where Winnacunnet's season ended a season ago in the Class L quarterfinals. And although the Warriors and Crusaders return a total of just three players who played more than four minutes in that game, I am sure that Winnacunnet Head Coach Jay McKenna used that as extra motivation for his team to come out and get revenge.

Merrimack wins, 66-48. Going into this game, this was a matchup of two of my top 6 Class L teams. I expected a good, close game. North only lost to BG by two the other night and only lost to Dover by a few points. So I figured that this would be a close one, and possibly a North win. But again I was wrong. Merrimack controlled this game the whole way. The Tomahawks solidify their spot in the top 3 of the Class L power rankings with a very impressive blowout win over a good North team.

Bedford wins 59-57. Bedford picks up a nice home win by beating a good Souhegan team tonight. This was also a good win for Bedford because while they had other wins before tonight, this was the first against a good team. Souhegan is a team that is still trying to define roles and find their identity. And it doesn't get any easier for them, with Pelham on their schedule Tuesday night.

South with a mild upset beats Exeter 60-49. Ok, so South loses to Goffstown, but they beat Exeter?! I am not buying Goffstown as a better team than the Blue Hawks. Especially considering Exeter took Merrimack to overtime last Tuesday. What can you say, it's been a crazy year so far. I'm not complaining though. Parity is a very good thing for NH basketball. Anything can happen on any given night. Teams have to bring their "A" game every night. This makes for better competition and this also makes for better individual basketball players.

Alvirne beats Central in overtime 46-43. Not really a surprise here. But word is that Joe Stisser is finally healthy again and back in the lineup now for the Little Green. I'm sure he'll need some time to get readjusted and back in shape, but as the season goes on he'll make a big difference for Central. Look for them to struggle early but get better as the season goes on. Stisser is a true point guard, and having him back in the lineup means sophomore Gabe LaCount can play the wing which is his natural position. He's been playing out of position so far this year at the point.


  1. Thoughts on other big games? Did I miss them?

  2. does Bedford get to move above Souhegan because of the win?

  3. Watching Valentin tonight, I saw a player who is not only worthy of a first team all state selection, but will also be stongly considered for player of the year if he is able to keep this level of play up for the remainder of the season - he was that good. Not only did he seem to score at will, but his energy level on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court was non-stop. All of his teammates fed off his energy and never let up for a second. He's the type of player that makes all of his teammates better just by being on the floor - never mind what he can do with the ball in his hands. Very, very impressive tonight. Jeremy, do you agree with that assessment?

  4. Absolutely I agree. The kid plays with a ton of energy. When I saw West scrimmage Bedford before the season started I came on here and said how well he played. The one thing though about that scrimmage was that since it was just a scrimmage West played their bench more, and Valentin sat out from time to time. When he was in there though, he went at it full boar, playing with a ton of energy. I thought that maybe he was able to play that way in the scrimmage because he wasn't playing the whole time. In other words he was able to go all out for half the game but if it was a real game he would have to conserve his energy to play 30 minutes a game. But that was not the case tonight. He played the entire game, and went all out the whole time. And that is a credit to his desire as well as the great shape he's in.

  5. Great win for West. Richard Valentin is in a league of his own, VERY quick, unselfish, takes advantage of what the defense gives and involves his team and elevates their game...32 minutes of great intensity.

    What can you say about Sam Carey and how important coaching is? He is a class act who cares about the kids beyond the "floor". You look at what Mike Fitzpatrick did with Memorial last season and you see the impact that great coaching has on the kids. Sam and Mike are among their best coaches in NH basketball.

  6. Went to the Winnacunnet-Memorial game last night. Winnacunnet started off slow but were in complete control from the end of the 1st quarter on. It was a typical Mckenna defensive scheme with a mixture of Zone full court presses, straight man and half court zone. Winni also picked apart Memorial's zone defense and outhustled them all night long. The point guard for Winni Ryan Dunn is an absolute animal on the floor, tenacious on D, dives for every loose ball and pushes the tempo. Memorial really had trouble handling Winni's defense especially the full court press, Fitzpatrick it looked like suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter and really did not do much maybe a tow three's and one early bucket on a drive. It was my first trip to the Memorial gym. I was really surprised with the lack of atmosphere for a school that went to the finals last year. The school did not even provide a roster sheet or program for patrons. The student section was non existent, no concessions, the fans were friends and family. I do not know who the players for Memorial are except for Fitzpatrick since I went to the Finals last year. Note to Memorial may want to promote hoops a little better.

  7. Valentin is a great player but i just want to point one thing out about a player that gets a little overshadowed at times. Anthony floras, there has been a lot of talk about his brother Dimitri who is the best freshman in the state. Anthony was matched up against Valentin in the first game and held him to about 8 points before he fouled out of them game and it was because of Anthony Floras. He is the best defensive guard in the state BY FAR, Valentin has been torching other teams but not Merrimack. His offense may not be as good as his brother or other guards but he can lock down most players he defends.

    There was a lot of hype about the West game and Valentin leading up to opening night but after Merrimack won pretty easily people were saying how Valentin was overrated especially around Merrimack. However, now it shows he is not overrated he is a great player Anthony Floras is just a very underrated defender. Now a days offense is the most important barometer for measuring a players skill but defense is extremely important as well and Anthony Floras is one of the best defenders in the state.

  8. "They play 6 kids and they are all VERY fast and VERY athletic. They're the fastest team in NH. Yes, they're even faster than BG."

    How fast do you think those 6 kids will be in the 4th quarter?

  9. Worst place to see a game and i have never seen a program there.

  10. In a matchup with BG any team that relies solely on 6 kids could struggle because of BG's depth.

  11. Dream Matchup!

    Stick with me on this. Last week Milford played Monadnock at home, started the non starters,played the starters limited minutes. Won by 59 points. Monadnock is an hour from Milford.
    On February 23rd the game is scheduled again in Monadnock.

    Also on February 23rd you have a game scheduled in class L.
    Trinity hosting Keene. Keene has yet to win a game in class L. Thier lone win was against a very weak class I team in Conval. Trinity is a top 5 team.

    Trinity is a short 30 minutes from Milford where as it is more like an hour and change to get there from Keene.

    Keene and Monadnock are 15 minutes from each other.

    I wonder if all four teams could come to an agreement to switch?
    Better games,less travel and a chance to see two of the best teams in the state play each other. TO me this is a no brainer!

  12. Milford could not compete with Trinity. Dream matchup Dream on...

  13. 1:17,come on man, I hope you dont claim to be a hoop junkie. I'm the most neutral person you will find, i truly just love the game and could care less who wins but i gotta say with no disrepect you are absolutley crazy if you think for a second that Milford cant beat Trinity. I like Trinity alot, and i think by the end of the season they would will be good to go, matter of fact i have a Trinity/Memorial rematch in March, dont under estimate a seasons worth of coaching. Beleive me when i tell you, Milford beats Trinity, granted Milford doesnt have the depth of a Trinity, but Trinity doesnt play the type of game(like a BG) that requires you to be a deep team. In a 10 games series they would go 50/50 but if its one game, i go with Milford. Stick around next summer and i'm sure you'll see that match up!!

  14. You guys are missing the point. Why would trinity rather play Keene over Milford? Even if they are confident they would win? Don't you want to get ready for playoffs by playing a good team? I think Trinity would be the favorite but the fact is it would be better for all four teams involved. Monadnock gets to play a game that if they play real well they could win. Keene gets a chance to play a good game and have a chance to win.
    Milford gets to play their starters and continue to get ready for the playoffs. It really does not matter who wins and loses. Either way Trinity and Milford get better prepared for the playoffs and to teams that are having a tough year get to be in a more competitive game.

  15. I think it's a good idea. The two biggest things you want as far as making schedules is to have competitive games, and you want less travel. This proposal satisfies both. It makes a lot of sense, and I think a lot of people would like to see a Milford/Trinity game.

  16. Keene is terrible, but the 2 closest class L schools to Keene are Concord & Trinity. Keene should just move to Division 2(formerly Class I) next year, then again they would have trouble competing in D2. Maybe D3? Oh yeah they lost to Conant already this year. D4??????

  17. Keene has had 5 players quit, and another may quit. So they only suit up 7 (soon to be 6) varsity players.

  18. All of the Keene ditracotors sit tight, Joe is in his first year over there, give him time to set the sail straight. lets not forget Joe is the one who created the "dynasty" at Conant. Eric has carried the torch well but Joe created the basketball enviroment in Jaffrey and it can happen in Keene, but their is an adjustment to be had by all before that can happen. Best wishes to Keene, now and in the future. We all know if you can build a program in Jaffrey, then you can definatley do it in Keene.

  19. The idea of crossing classes/divisions to eliminate travel expenses and generate local rivalries is a great idea but there has to be some guidelines to laydown before just makeing it happen, but it should definatley be done. Today more than ever with schools competing in open division summer and fall programs the gap between the schools is closing, as state we are at a point where we could go with the Indiana style format, and the smaller schools could compete for the overall state title. Granted overall the bigger classes/division schools are gonna win majority of the time but i think you will see each year that the top schools in the smaller divisions will be able to compete with anybody and that is a BEAUTIFUL THING !!!! If they make it so a win is win and lose is a lose no points more points or less points for playing smaller schools, and the set guidlines, Class L schools can scheudle 2 class I schools and one Class M team a year. Class I can schedule two class M schools and 1 class S school year and so on down the line. This would allow some local rivalries to thrive with out of division scheduels, and with there not point any point system this would not hurt or help schools to play down or up. NH is finally coming along in the hoop scene, this minor adjustment would go along way for everyone with continueing to move forward. Special props go out to BST Basketball and Coach Morrisette at Rivier College for their programs which have transcented the game here in NH and allowed the smaller schools the chance to compete and produce an overall better quality of basketball.

  20. Hey Keene, Conant is class M not class L, Joe has built a great class M program, went to Maine last year and only 2 wins came from a team that won 0 games and a team that won 1 game against the team that won 0 games. This year Keene will beat ConVal twice & end up with a record of 2-16 with both wins against a class I school. then he will quit just like he did in Maine. Luckily the JV coach is comitted to staying around & hopefully he will build the program. Then again with the set-up overthere and the AD they have they will always have trouble being competive in every team sport except for baseball

  21. Conant will beat Keene by 20, who are you kidding?

  22. Hey 9:20,
    I'm not even close to Keene, thank god but i can tell you this, all you did is reiterate my point, nice job. Joe helped build a program at Conant that could compete with any Class L team, mabye not win them all but atleast compete,and that didnt happen over night, check the record. (look at what Campbell was able to acheive, and Conant has beaten them steadily). If you can build a program in little old Jafferey, it surely can be done in Keene. What happened in Maine, who knows but to go in and build a succesful program in one year is nearly impossible, there is exceptions to the rule, such as Fitz at Memorial but Fitz also inhertited his team early, got kids to beleive and was able to use the summer/falls leagues as building blocks and he will tell you himself that was the key to their success last year. You talk about class L, like it is the B all of classes, and for the most part they beat the smaller schools but the gap has closed tremendously and only getting smaller. It sounds like to me you have some bitterness towards Joe, I dont know him from the whole in the wall, i'm just speaking from a reality perspective, so dont let being jaded blur the reality. and if the last quote was direted towards me, Conant beating Keene at this point and time is a know brainer, tell me where in my statement i said anything about Keene beating Conant.