Sunday, November 22, 2009

Al-Darraji Hits Game Winning Shot for Dover

Dover beats Trinity tonight, 52-50. Kenaan Al-Darraji hit the game winning shot with 1 second left to give Dover the win. Back and forth game for most of the way. I thought this was going to be the game of the night, because I think both of these teams have a good chance of making it to Durham. For the first 3 and a half quarters it was only an average game however. It was lacking intensity. Both teams just going back and forth trading baskets. Then the action really picked up in the game's last 4 or 5 minutes and it ended up being a very good basketball game. It didn't start out that way, but it did indeed end up being the game of the night in New Hampshire High School basketball.

The game was tied at 28 at the half. Dover goes on a 7-0 run to start the 3rd quarter. The Green Wave lead remains 7 after 3 quarters, 47-40. They extend the lead to 49-40. It was still 49-40 with 5:31 left in the fourth. 3 minutes into the 4th quarter, and the two teams combined for a whopping 2 points. That's when things got interesting, and the intensity finally picked up. Over the course of just 60 seconds, Trinity went on an 8-0 run and just like that the Dover lead was just one, 49-48. Zach Stevens and Phil Hayden hit back-to-back three's and then David Madol hit an 18 footer off the dribble.

Trinity brought a good crowd with them to Dover, but they were quiet the whole game. And there weren't any Trinity students who made the trip either. Dover had a good student section, but overall it was a quiet building the first 3 quarters. The only noise was from the PA announcer, who was VERY loud. But when Trinity made their late run, their JV team really got into it. They got really loud and were cheering the team on, going back and forth with with the Dover student section across the gym. This, along with the action on the court picking up late, made for a fun game to watch down the stretch.

Alright, so Dover's up one with 2:14 left in regulation. That's when Hayden makes a nifty move to score and give Trinity their first lead of the second half. He caught the ball on the low block, up-faked and then laid it in off the glass. He had a much bigger Dover player coming up from behind and would have blocked the shot if he had gone right up with it off the catch. He could sense the defender was back there though, and made an up-fake with the ball. When he did this, the defender flew by and out of the way giving Hayden a wide open layup. A smart, savvy play by a smart, savvy player. The bucket gave Trinity a 50-49 lead, and it was now a 10-0 run for the Pioneers.

After an offensive foul call on Hayden, Burt goes to line for two. With 1:05 left, he had a chance to either tie it or give Dover the lead back. He missed the first but made the second. Tie game, 50-50. Trinity can't score with about a minute left and a tie game. Dover ball with 26.5 seconds left. Burt trying to set up the offensive, nice defense by Hayden though to poke the ball away. Loose ball, jump ball, possession arrow Dover. One last chance for the Green Wave. 8 seconds left, tied at 50. Burt at the top of the key, dribbles left wing, hands it off to Al-Darraji. Al-Darraji one dribble to his left, just inside the top of the key. He had plenty of room to shoot because the defense was so focused on Burt. Al-Darraji drains the 18 footer with 1 second left. 52-50 Dover. Still 1 second left but no more timeouts for Trinity. Last second desperation heave by Hayden is no good, Dover wins.

"I think everyone in the building thought I was taking the shot at the end" said Burt, who was very pleased following the game. "But last few games I've been running the point more and setting up the other guys for shots."

With the Dover win, both teams now have identical 7-3 records. Madol led Trinity with a game-high 17 points.

"We let them get 10 offensive rebounds. And they turned those into 4 three pointers" said a disappointed Dave Keefe (Trinity's head coach), following the game.

I talked in my preview of this game about something to look for in this one was Dover's rotation. They've been only playing a 6 man rotation in close games so far this season. But I said don't be surprised if they went deeper tonight, after some of the bench players received auditions for more playing time in the St. Thomas and Nashua South blowout wins. Well tonight Dover played TEN the first half! And this was a close game the whole way, too. Before tonight Dover has only been playing 6 kids in close games, and tonight they played 10 in a close game. Interesting stuff. Now granted, the 5 starters did play the majority of the game. But the bench, especially players like Jarell Mejia, Paul Flanagan and Jake Howard, got some valuable experience this evening.

Something else that I said in my preview of this one was my bold statement that, "If there's a player in Class L who can guard David Madol one-on-one it's Morgan Faustino." Not sure if maybe David saw or heard about that bold statement because he was VERY aggressive offensively tonight, going at Faustino and looking to score almost every time he caught the ball. Madol finished with 17 points. I didn't think Faustino did a bad job defending him though. I just think that tonight Madol showed why he is such a tough player to cover. He kept facing up from about 15 feet away. Faustino gave him a little too much breathing room, and he nailed the jumper on him about three times. Madol showed some nice touch on his shot. It really wasn't a bad job on defense by Faustino though, because if I'm defending him I make Madol shoot it from the outside, he's more dangerous attacking the rim. Not a bad job of defense by Faustino, but like I said Madol showed why he's such a tough matchup by making those shots and also putting the ball on the floor and driving effectively.

I mentioned the fans earlier, and the Dover student section had some fun with Hayden and Descoteaux. Hayden airballed a three early in the game and for the remainder of the game, the Dover students chanted "Air-ball" every time he touched the ball. Thing is, Hayden is a veteran player, a savvy player and has plenty of big game experience. He's the last player who will get rattled by that sort of thing. He just kept on playing, and didn't let the fans affect his play at all. In fact, when they first started the chant it was while he was on the free throw line. They were actually chanting "Air-ball" WHILE he was in his free through routine. Not surprisingly he nailed both shots. I wonder if the Dover students would have been on him so much if they knew that his parents were sitting VERY close to them...

The Dover students were also letting Descoteaux have it, yelling things like, "Freshman!" and "Shoot it!" each time he touched the rock. To his credit, Travis didn't let it affect him either. At one point he even caught the ball in the corner with the Dover students yelling, "Shoot it!". So, what did he do? He shot it. Nothing but net. From the corner directly in front of the Dover student section. It was a good moment for the Trinity freshman.

All in all, this was a good win for Dover and even for Trinity they played solid basketball even in defeat. I've said it before but I'll say it again. I would not be at all surprised to see both of these teams playing in Durham come March.


  1. Dover student section is top in the state. For another blog you should rank student sections.

  2. No they are not, if a game is more than 20 minutes from Dover they don't show.

  3. Anyone know who was matched up with Al-Darraji on the last possession?

  4. You want to talk to student sections - then you should have been at the Milford-Hollis Brookline (At Hollis Brookline) game last week. Hollis Brookline announced there would be "no National Anthem" as they had no one to sing it - so the Milford Student Section stood up at sang it. Class act Milford!

  5. Anyone know who was matched up with Al-Darraji on the last possession?

    Saturday, February 6, 2010 5:54:00 PM EST

    Yeah, some one who made a big defensive mistake.

  6. Trinity's whole defense was focused on Burt. They thought he was taking the shot. Usually it's Al-Darraji at the point and Burt running off a screen to take the shot. But this time it was the other way around and they ran the play for Al-Darraji. Zach Stevens told me after the game that they were totally caught off guard by the play.

  7. Have to give the kid credit for hitting that shot. Heard the Dover coach on the radio this morning explaining how they had to transition Burt from the primary scorer to more of a distributor over the last few games to try and turn things around after their 3 game losing streak. He also mentioned that Al-Darraji had missed a couple of open looks earlier in the quarter - but found it when he needed it with everybody focusing on Burt. Sounds like a real nice play design that worked to perfection.

  8. The reason I asked. I was at the Alvirne/Dover matchup a week ago and I sat next to a group of Class L coaches. Keefe was discussing the match ups with his assistant coach and I voiced my opinion saying Hayden being a little taller and longer may be better off guarding Al-Darraji. Coach Keefe agreed but his assistant did not. I was just hoping that maybe someone other than Hayden was on Al-Darraji for my won piece of mind.
    Would feel bad if I felt like I had anything to do with the Trinity loss.

  9. Hayden was covering Burt all game, I think Viscarello was on Al-Darraji.

  10. Trinity's coach commented..."We let them get 10 offensive rebounds. And they turned those into 4 three pointers". He might have tried inserting some size down low. Aluko, 6'9" and Lauderdale, 6'6" are very imposing and would have had an impact on rebounding and opposing team shot selection. Is it time to consider expanding the rotation? There are lots of players on Trinity's bench that can contribute. Lots of people are trying to make sense of it.

  11. Underclassmen can rarely be counted on to make the right decisions and find the play in close contests and when the play is really needed. It's a fact that bears out all the time - high school, college, or NBA. They'll get their chance. For now it's time to watch and learn.

  12. I agree with your point re: underclassmen as a rule but isn't there a soph and freshman in rotation and a junior and senior not in the rotation?