Just got done broadcasting the Somersworth/White Mountains Class M quarterfinal game. The #14 seed White Mountains Regional have now beaten #3 seed Winnisquam and #6 seed Somersworth on the road to advance to the semi-finals at SNHU next Saturday. What a story. How the Spartans lost 9 games in the regular season in Class M is beyond me. They beat the Hilltoppers tonight 54-39.
A Game of Runs = Understatement
Before I go any further I have gotta say, this was one of the most bizarre games have ever witnessed over the first 3 quarters. Here is how the scoring broke down:
White Mountains 16
White Mountains 0
White Mountains 19
I have NEVER seen a game like this. Not only was each quarter EXTREMELY one sided, but the two teams took turns dominating each other for extended periods of time.
Fortunately the 4th quarter wasn't as one sided. Somersworth outscored White Mountains 20-19 in the final frame. They won the quarter, but of course it wasn't enough as they were down 35-19 after 3.
2 Biggest Reasons for White Mt. Win
1) Somersworth's bread and butter is their 1-3-1, 3/4 court trap. They score most of their points by forcing turnovers off of it and getting easy baskets in transition. However, White Mountains did not have any problem at all breaking that trap. They might have 1 turnover against the Somersworth press and that's it. And that 1 turnover was far outweighed by the MANY times the Spartans broke the the trap and either got easy baskets or got to the free throw line off of it. Most of the credit here goes to White Mountains senior point Evan Haskins. This kid can flat out play. Most of the time he was able to break the press all by himself, even with 2 or 3 players draped all over him. He was cool under the pressure and showed some outstanding ball handling ability all game. He would either break the press himself, or pass the ball up court and just like that they would be getting layups on the other end. If you take away Somersworth's transition game they can definitely be beaten. They showed tonight that they really struggle in the half court offense against a good team. The fact that Somersworth wasn't forcing turnovers and getting any points off their 3/4 court trap was the biggest reason they lost this basketball game.
2) Somersworth was forced to play shorthanded tonight. Alex Denn, the team's starting center and 6'6" senior, had an injured ankle and was not able to go tonight. Denn is a player that has played better as the season has gone on for the Hilltoppers. He started out the year only playing a few minutes a game but by the end of the year he was in the starting lineup. In the team's prelim. round win vs. Prospect Mountain, Denn had 4 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Denn being out of the lineup really hurt Somersworth because White Mountains had a big guy of their own. I'm talking about 6'5" junior center Damon Ness. Ness is big, quick and VERY active on both ends of the floor. After Denn, the Hilltoppers next biggest players are only about 6'1" or 6'2", so without him in the lineup they had nobody to match up with Ness. Ness had 9 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Not only was Ness an effective inside player, but fellow junior Dan Johnson was also a very effective inside player. The 6'2" forward had 17 points and 12 rebounds. All of Johnson's points came in paint or at the foul line. Without Denn, Somersworth had no defensive presence in the middle. As a result, Ness and Johnson had a field day for the Spartans.
A Couple Other Things
*Damon Ness and Dan Johnson played very well for White Mountains, but Evan Haskins was the best player on the floor this evening. The 5'10" lefty was absolutely fearless. He plays with a swagger and confidence that the rest of the team feeds off of. He is one of just 2 seniors on the Spartans' roster, and he's the only senior who played tonight. He finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. 8 of those 15 points came in the 3rd quarter. That was the quarter where White Mountains outscored Somersworth 19-3 and that quarter turned out to be the difference in the game. At one point in the 3rd Haskins was one fire, scoring 6 points in a row in a one minute span. All 6 points came on mid range jump shots or floaters in the lane. The third shot was the most impressive. Haskins drove hard down the floor, then stopped on a dime, pulled up off the dribble, creating a ton of space between himself and his defender. He then stepped back and drained the off balance jumper from 18 feet away. A filthy move by a kid has got to be one of the most underrated players in the state.
*Yiram Villanueva is a player to watch over the next few years for the Spartans. Most of the damage for White Mountains was done by Haskins, Ness and Johnson. But the 5'9" guard Villanueva also played some solid ball. What's more impressive is that this kid is only a freshman. He played almost the entire game tonight, didn't have any turnovers and made some big plays down the stretch, finishing with 6 points.
*It was a tough game for most of the Somersworth players. Their top 3 scorers all season long were junior swingman Bobby Shatinsky, junior guard Matt Fauci and senior forward Greg Matthews. Those 3 players combined for just 13 points. That's not going to get it done. The player who stepped up big for the Hilltoppers however was junior guard Pat Lavin. Lavin hit 3 HUGE three's in the second quarter, and scored a team-high 13 points. On a night when most of the Somersworth players struggled to get into a rhythm, Lavin really stepped up his game.
*This was the 3rd straight night that Somersworth High School hosted a basketball tournament game. On Thursday night it was the boys team beating Prospect Mountain in the Class M prelims. Last night the girls team lost to Conant in the Class M quarterfinals and tonight the boys lose to White Mountains in the quarterfinals. It was also the 4th tournament game in 6 days that Somersworth hosted. The 4th was on Tuesday when the girls team won in the prelims. These are UNHEARD OF stats here, folks.