Tonight I saw Portsmouth pick up a good road win by defeating Pembroke 61-51. Here are my thoughts about that game, as well as my thoughts on tonight's other big games:
My take on Pembroke/Portsmouth
The biggest thing that I took away from this game was Pembroke's lack of size. I knew going in that they were small, but I at least thought that they would play Tyler Morrison (6'4") a good amount. But Morrison only played a minute and a half tonight. The rest of the minutes went to six guards: Rene Maher (5'8"), Coleton Neely (5'10"), Dalton Cheney (5'11"), Matt Persons (5'11"), Sheldon Benson (6'1") and Jackson Riel (6'1").
After the game I asked Coach Alosa why Morrison wasn't in there more. "Going into the season we were planning on him starting, but he's just not ready. The speed of the game is just too fast for him."
So it's small ball for Pembroke. And that's why they've been so inconsistent. They've blown out two good teams in Hanover and Lebanon, but this is their third loss on the season. Because of their lack of size, how they do going forward will all depend on match-ups.
This game was a lot close than the final score indicates. Portsmouth made their free throws at the end of the game when Pembroke was fouling them, and it was only a two point game with three minutes left. And Coleton Neely fouled out with 3:58 left in the game. Right before he fouled out he drilled a three that cut Portsmouth's lead to just 50-47. Neely was quiet in the first half, but he scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half. He was starting to heat up when he fouled out. If he stays in there who knows how it ends.
Also, Rene Maher suffered a hyper-extended knee injury in the 3rd quarter. It was a scary moment for Spartan fans, he looked pretty shaken up on the play. But he returned to the lineup early in the fourth. While he was out of the game Portsmouth increased their lead from three to eight.
The player of the this game was clearly Mike Barton for Portsmouth. He had 31 points, including five three pointers. He also made some nice passes and had a big blocked shot in the first quarter. Barton made the two biggest shots of the ballgame. Pembroke came out of halftime on a roll. It was tied at 23 at the half, but the Spartans went on an 8-0 run to begin the third quarter. It looked like they were in control of the game, up 31-23. Then Barton nailed back to back three's and just like that it was a two point game and the momentum was completely shifted from Pembroke over to Portsmouth.
Another factor in this game was free throw shooting. Simply put, Portsmouth made their foul shots and Pembroke did not.
This was a solid ballgame. Two very evenly matched teams. Portsmouth goes on the road and beats a good team. And heading into this one the Clippers beat a good Kingswood team, and only lost to Pelham by three. They're a well coached team, and Barton is playing like an all-state player right now.
My take on the other big games tonight:
I would have liked to have seen BG/North, Milford/Souhegan, Campbell/Pelham and Winnacunnet/Pinkerton. But unfortunately I could only see one game tonight.
Seems like BG/North was the game of the night, with BG winning 76-74. When these two teams met in the Rivier Fall League playoffs, it was a dandy. It was fast and hectic, but still a good one. Both BG and North like to play at a very fast pace, take quick shots and force turnovers, so I'm sure it was a fun game to watch. North proves they can play with the big boys once again. They were neck and neck with Dover last week, and now tonight they only lose to BG by two. You have to consider them one of the top 6 or 7 teams in Class L right now. As for BG, they stay in the #2 spot in my Class L rankings. With Dover taking care of business tonight vs. Spaulding, this means that Thursday night's game between Dover and BG will pit the top 2 teams in Class L against each other.
How about that Pinkerton/Winnacunnet game? I figured that this was going to be a close one, ad it was with the Warriors winning just barely, 58-55. Two very evenly matched teams. And two teams with VERY contrasting styles. All of Pinkerton's best players are forwards, while all of Winnacunnet's best players are guards. Pinkerton has had problems closing out games over the last couple years, and with Winnacunnet playing at home I'm not surprised in the result of this one.
Milford beats Souhegan easily, 73-56. There was a lot of hype around this game going in. I thought Milford would win, but I figured it would be a little closer than this. Souhegan still has a lot of new players to their varsity team this year, and they've also had injuries to Redmond and McKenna. They'll get better as the season goes on.
Campbell continues to make headlines around the state, as they beat Pelham tonight, 83-75. 83 points for Campbell against a good Pelham team is VERY impressive. What I really like about this game is that it means something. In the past a cross-division game wouldn't count in the standings. In the past you would have a game like this and it was essentially a scrimmage in the middle of the season, which makes ZERO sense. But here, you have two good basketball teams, they're right next door to each other geographically, they're not in the same Class but it still counts! Good stuff. Sounds like this game wasn't even as close as the final eight point margin indicates. Congrats to Campbell. I coached against them last week, and they're a talented, hungry team. Talent AND hunger, that's a scary combination. And they lost to Conant earlier this season. Boy, Conant must be REALLY good!.
Elsewhere, how about Londonderry? They played at home tonight, and against possibly the worst team in Class L, Concord, and only won by 5, 49-44?! Someone commented on this site the other day that I should move them up the rankings. They're sure not moving up after tonight. Now if they can beat Pinkerton on Friday night, well then that will be a different story.
How about John Stark beating Bishop Brady 73-33? I figured John Stark would be favored in this one. But I thought this was actually going to be a close game. Bishop Brady has two of the top 20 players in this year's senior class, how are they this bad?.
In a minor upset, Kearsarge defeats Merrimack Valley 53-48.
And in another game that I expected to be a lot closer than it was, Oyster River blows out Kingswood 64-45. After starting off 4-0, Kingswood has come back down to earth with two losses in a row.
Finally, South continues to show that they REALLY miss Jake Nelson being in their lineup as they lose to West 68-40. Still, West is one of the top 8 teams in Class L right now, no doubt about it. And they have a chance to prove it on Friday night when they host Trinity in a big one.
NHIAA doesn't have the final scores for these ones, but Memorial beats Salem 51-46, and Merrimack beats Central 53-43. Anyone have a final for Trinity/Goffstown?