Sunday, November 22, 2009

Big Class I Matchups Headline Tuesday 2/9

On most Tuesday and Friday nights during the season, there will be more big games in Class L than in the other 3 classes combined. That is not the case tomorrow. The two biggest games are in Class I. There's also a HUGE girls game in Class I. Here's the lowdown...

Game of the Night

Pembroke (9-2) @ Lebanon (9-1)
This is a battle of the two teams who are currently ranked #2 and #3 in the Class I Power Rankings, so this could easily be a preview of a game that will happen in Durham next month. It has been well documented that Lebanon's only defeat thus far this regular season was a blowout loss to Pembroke where they only scored 27 points. In that game Jimmy Kane got a technical early and barely played. Kane, Lebanon's 6'5" senior center, is a very good rebounder and is arguably the Raiders' second best player. Having him play a full game and having this game on Lebanon's home court should be enough to make this a VERY close game. It could go either way.

Interesting matchup of Lebanon's size vs. Pembroke's all guard lineup. Lebanon's Kane (6'5") and Woodward (6'4") play pretty much the whole game. Meanwhile Pembroke likes to play 6 kids, none of which are taller than 6'1". Lebanon has size, experience, discipline, rebounding. They're very good defensively, they take good shots, they pound it inside, but the guards can hurt you too if you overplay the bigs. Their weakness however is speed. They are NOT one of the quickest teams in Class I. To beat them you have to run, play an up-tempo game. Luckily for the Spartans, that's their style. They want to push the ball upcourt and score before Lebanon gets back and sets up their defense. Look for guards Rene Maher, Coleton Neely and Dalton Cheney to really force the issue and get out on the break. Obviously, tempo will be a HUGE factor in this game. If it is an up-tempo game, another factor will be Pembroke's depth. The faster the pace of the game, the more fatigued the players will get. If you're a deep team than this is no problem. That's why Bishop Guertin is able to play that style and be successful. If you're not deep though, you have to have kids who are in good shape so they're still fresh come the fourth quarter. You also have to avoid foul trouble and avoid injury. Like I said before, Pembroke only likes to play 6 kids. They're not deep. Those 6 players are in good shape though. So it will come down to whether they can stay out of foul trouble and hope nobody gets injured. When I saw Pembroke play Portsmouth, Maher got injured in the third quarter. They were forced to go with the same 5 players the whole time he was on the bench and that's when Portsmouth made their run. Lebanon on the other hand is a deeper team. They rely for the most part on 6 kids, but they do go 8 or 9 deep. Even though they're deeper than Pembroke, Lebanon still does NOT want to run. Like I said, they just not as fast as the Spartans.

This game will feature 3 of the top 10 freshmen in New Hampshire. Two of Pembroke's top 6 players are freshman...and they're 9-2! I think that's a great story by itself. The two players I'm talking about are starting guard Rene Maher and 6th man Matt Persons. They are both ranked in the top for the Class of 2013. For Lebanon, their 6th man is also a freshman. That would be the sharpshooting David Hampton. And on the Raiders JV team is another good freshman, the 6'2" athletic Matt Cowles.

If the season ended today, you would have to give Lebanon's Jake Woodward some serious consideration for Class I Player of the Year. Nobody on Milford will win it because they have 3 really good players, so they will all get a few votes each instead of one of them getting many votes. Steve Spirou would be up there if Pelham had a better record. Ditto for Bow's Tom Poitras, Merrimack Valley's Kevin Cressy and Bishop Brady's Tyler Penney. You would think that the POY would have to come from either Milford, Pembroke, Lebanon, Bedford, Portsmouth, Oyster River, Souhegan or Kingswood. From those team's the other candidates would have to be Woodward, Portsmouth's Barton, Pembroke's Neely or Benson and Oyster River's McDonnell. Neely and Benson would likely split votes with neither getting enough to win it. Barton might get first team, but he hasn't been consistent enough to win it. Ditto for McDonnell. At times Barton and McDonnell haven't even been the best player on their own team, with Kyle DiCesare from Portsmouth and Adam Goodwin from Oyster River both doing some big things early in the year. So if you ask me, as of right now it's Woodward. Still a LONG way to go before the season's over though.

2 Other Class I Clashes

Milford (11-1) @ Pelham (6-5)
Before the season started these were the clear cut teams to beat in Class I. Oyster River and Pembroke were close behind, but definitely not on the same level as these two. Milford has lived up to the hype, but Pelham has not. To be fair, Coach Kress's squad DOES have the toughest schedule in Class I. But nobody thought they would be 6-5 right now. Souhegan might be Milford's biggest rival, for Pelham this is it. This is the game they REALLY get up for. Milford is the team they REALLY want to beat. If they can get a win here it would really get them going in the right direction as a team. They need it bad.

While these two teams do have an intense rivalry, there's a mutual respect that exists between them. This is in large part due to the fact that some of the key players on both sides play together in AAU ball. Milford's Mike Mitchell, Mike O'Loughlin and Dan Desmarais, as well as Pelham's Steve Spirou and Mike Lombard were all a part of the Granite State Jayhawks 16U team last spring/summer. Milford's Jamie Holder was also on the team before he switched over to the Mass Rivals. These kids all get along, when they're not playing against each other they're good friends. While they respect each other's games, you can bet that when the whistle blows and the ball goes up in the air tonight it will be all business and both teams will be really going at each other hard.

The key to this game will be the matchups. Will Spirou go off for 20+ points, or will Milford have an answer for him defensively? Will Pelham's guards be able to stop Milford's dribble penetration? Will either team play zone to offset matchup problems?

How about on the boards? That would appear to be the area of the game where Pelham has a definite advantage. Spirou, Lombard and Josh Boissonault are as good of a rebounding trio as any in Class I. Milford is not nearly as strong at rebounding the basketball. It will be up to Desmarais, O'Loughlin and Kyle Nelson to step up in that department.

This is also the first tough opponent Milford has had since they we found out that 6'3" forward and 6th man Scott McCallum was done for the season with a broken wrist. With that loss, the Spartans became one player less deep. It didn't matter in their last three games because they faced St. Thomas, Hollis and Con-Val. But it could make a difference against Pelham tonight.

Oyster River (8-3) @ Souhegan (8-3)
Here you have two teams with identical 8-3 records, two teams that have both had tough schedules, and they've both beaten some pretty good teams. Souhegan has beaten Portsmouth and Kingswood, while Oyster River has beaten Kingswood and Pelham. These are two pretty evenly matched teams. Oyster River has a little more talent, but Souhegan has home court. It's a toss-up! Anything could happen with this one, and this is a game I would really like to see if I could.

The matchup that I really like in this game is at point guard. You have the two tallest point guards in the state going at it, with Oyster River's Tommy McDonnell and Souhegan's Seth Cordts. Both players are 6'2" and really pushing 6'3". They are both the catalysts for their respective teams, everything feeds off of them.

Girls Game of the Night

Portsmouth (12-1) @ St. Thomas (11-2)
Not only is this a game between two seacoast rivals, but these are also possibly the two best girls teams in Class I right now. I saw St. Thomas play Dover a couple weeks ago. Dover is a decent Class L team, and St. Thomas came VERY close to beating them, losing on a last second shot. Although they lost, the Saints were a quicker, more athletic team. They also have some decent shooters. Portsmouth meanwhile is led by senior Rosa Drummond and juniors Ali Beauregard and Susie French. I'll be broadcasting this game on WTSN AM 1270 and online at tonight at 6:30. I am expecting a very good basketball game. Portsmouth and St. Thomas are also playing in boys basketball tonight. But that should be an easy win for Portsmouth. So maybe EVERYBODY will pack in the St. Thomas gym for this one!

Class L Game of the Night

Central @ Memorial
I didn't post the records for these two teams, because it doesn't matter. You can throw them out when the Manchester schools square off. It's always a must-see game. Just think of the outstanding Queen City games we've seen already this season. Trinity/Memorial on opening night, Trinity/Central and Memorial/West a week and a half ago. Plus, Trinity/Central, Memorial/West, Trinity/Memorial and West/Central in the QCIBT. Trinity and West a few weeks ago was a great atmosphere and a solid game. I'm telling you, folks. When these Manchester schools square off in boys hoops it is the real deal!

In this particular game, injuries will play a part. It has been well documented that Memorial's Matt Couture and Shomari Morgan both injured their ankles in the QCIBT. Couture is back to 100%, but how healthy Morgan is remains a mystery. When he's healthy Morgan gives them another dimension, because he's so explosive off the dribble. He also has the ability to pull up on a dime and stick the mid-range jumper. The Crusaders are a different team when he's healthy. The injury to watch for Central is Joe Stisser. He finally came back from the knee injury that sidelined him for almost a full year. And he was playing very well since retuning, especially in Central's big win over Trinity a couple weeks back. But on Friday night in the loss to Pinkerton he banged his knee again. Will Stisser play tonight? Will he be 100%? These are key questions, because there's no doubt that the Little GReen are a better squad with him on the court running the point.

Some Love for Class M

Campbell (12-2) @ Somersworth (10-4)

Campbell only won the first matchup between these two teams by 3, and that was at Campbell. Now Somersworth gets the Cougars at their place. In a very top-heavy Class M, there have actually been quite a few upsets in the past couple weeks. Could this be the next one? I don't think so, but I do think it will be a solid, hard fought game.

Nice matchup in the backcourt between the two quickest players off the dribble with Campbell's Kiel Canada and Somersworth's Shante Cunningham. These two going at it would be fun to watch.

Somersworth also has more quickness in the backcourt with the speedy 5'9" guard Matt Fauci, a very scrappy player. The spot where Campbell has an edge though is on the wing with junior Josh Morgan. If the Hilltoppers go man on defense, they'll have Bobby Shatinsky or Pat Lavin on Morgan. Neither of those two players is even close to Morgan in terms of quickness. So if Somersworth goes man, Morgan will have a field day. If they go zone, Morgan and Canada will drain three's.

Still, Somersworth is a veteran team that plays good team basketball. I expect them to lay it all on the line against a Campbell team whose only two losses were to Conant.


  1. Jeremy, As far as rivalry's go Pelham is Milfords true rival in basketball with this age group. I know across the board the two schools Souhegan and Milford are cross town rivals but Milford's current crop of players has owned Souhegan since the early years of travel. Milford does not really feel threatened by Souhegan. Pelham however was the real challenge to Milford since Middle School and of course while they had Hojlo at the high school level. So while Souhegan is the cross town foe Pelham is really the rivalry that MIlford looks at as the one to get up for.

  2. Speaking of Hojlo, is he not playing at plymouth?

  3. Milford cracks me up - can't just enjoy a great seaosn, they have to let you know who they do and don't feel they have to "get up for." A little shout out to the coaches at Portsmouth, Lebanon, Bedford and especially Souhegan; Milford only respects Pelham.

  4. Ok Souhegan nothing personal we honestly don't feel threatened by you is that a crime? As for Lebanon and Portsmouth they deserve to be there but bedford no and absolutely not Souhegan get over it. All though i must say it's funny how you threw in all the other school's.

  5. Threw them in? Now thats funny - they beat Milford, and Milford does not consider them a rival - now thats funny. Hope they beat you again.

  6. I guess you don't get it. I said you threw in the rest of the schools to make it look like we don't respect them when what i really said was we are not threatened by you and you period. When i said Lebanon and Portsmouth deserve to be there that means they both beat us and deserve to be there. Now what's really funny is that you don't get that? And last but not least why should you be a rival we beat you by twenty plus both times. Oh good luck with OR well i have your attention i will predict the score for you. OR 56 Souhegan 41.

  7. There is a live student broadcast of the Pembroke Lebanon game at

  8. Jesse Gould hit 8 threes and dropped 31 points

  9. Looks like you were right 3:12 Oyster River over Souhegan 60-39 and didn't have to play that well to win it. Souhegan was awful...not having Cordts didn't help but it wouldn't have mattered OR dominated in every phase and certainly looked like a final four type of team.

    Who won Milford Pelham?

  10. Just looked at some of the NHIAA scores..what happened Souhegan..did the wheels fall off the wagon? Didn't expect to see such a lopsided result.

  11. Milford was dominating Pelham up 18 in the second quarter. Mitchell rolled an ankle but Milford held a 10 point lead and finished with a 13 point win. Holder and O'Loughlin looked dominant and if Mitchell did not get hurt they most likely would have ran away with it. Milford played the best they have played in the last few weeks.

  12. Give credit where its due - the poster who said Souhegan is not Milford's rival was right - but when you write "we beat you by 20" - you do realize it was the boys and that you did not actually suit up right? LOL

  13. Back to the Rival thing, Milford does not know anyone on Lebanon and we have only played them twice in the last 3 years. So no it isn't a rival. Are they a good team and are we looking forward to a rematch sure but they are to far away and not enough history between the schools to call it a rivalry. Know what I mean?

  14. All legit points aand fair on Souhegan - can't be anyone's rival until yoi beat them. Original post on that was right. Apologies for digging away, original poster was right.

  15. Boy it's too bad Milford doesn't play Pembroke in the regular season. That would be an in interesting game to see.

  16. Salem beats Alvirne by 3 in double ot. Larosa hit 9 threes. Great game

  17. Lebanon Pembroke

    13 lead changes. Lebanon had the lead and the ball with 3 minutes to go. PA made free throws and Lebanon didn't. Best game I've seen all year.

  18. Souhegan came out flat, Gilligan was not great, and lost his head at some points. Oyster River's big men didnt play great but still dominated the glass, and McDonald must have been close to triple double.

  19. Milford and Pembroke would be a lot of fun to watch. Both teams are guard oriented and like to run. Would be a blast we can only hope that they see each other in the playoffs.

  20. Gilligan did not lose his head at any points in the game. That is a ridiculous statement! Since the Pelham game Gilligan has not said one word to a ref.

  21. we (souhegan) played class L in middle school. And as far as travel the team headed by petropulos, daigneau, and wing were never beaten by a milford team. not to mention that was 5 to 7 years ago. no we are not as dominant as you are now. but come playoffs everyones record gets reset to 0-0.... dont put down other teams when all it takes is one loss on any given night to end your season.

  22. Absolutely ridiculous statement about Gilligan. I was at the game. First of all the credit goes to OR McDonnell was tough with the ball and the OR bigs outrebounded Souhegan and deserved the victory. However, Gilligan took the ball to the hole tough, was hit on 3 different occasions with no foul calls - those clearly should have been 6 FT's which would have put him into double figures where he always is.

    Devin Gilligan is one of the top sophomores in the statenight in and night out and when teams play Souhegan they gear their entire defensive scheme towards stopping him. I agree that he overreacts sometimes (and has paid for it) but not against that game he got no help.

  23. ARE YOU KIDDING ME...did someone just mention a travel team/middle school team on this thread? That has nothing to do with what is going on in Class I this year. Face it, Milford is the team to beat, Lebanon, Pembroke, and OR are looking strong and Souhegan is struggling. What happened in the past means nothing. Milford keeps proving it night after night and Souhegan is now in a must win situation if they want to get anywhere and what happened in travel ball/MS ball means nothing.

    How long will Mitchell be out?

  24. Souhegan and Milford are rivals - and it has nothing to do with Class I basketball this year. People that live in Amherst used to go to Milford HS until Souhegan was built and there was some contention there for a lot of reasons, plus you also have geographic proximity.

    Again, Souhegan and Milford ARE rivals, and the competition level gets dialed up when they play in anything.

  25. we (souhegan) played class L in middle school. And as far as travel the team headed by petropulos, daigneau, and wing were never beaten by a milford team.

    The current group of kids for Milford never played a game against Petropulos,daigneau or wing we are juniors not seniors however we have played you last year and this year and have not lost once. In fact not even close so it i don't quite get your point? Petropulos and daigneau and wing are older and we still beat you.

  26. hey 6:27 you hit the nail on the head with Gilligan - it's not rocket science playing against him - I can't believe other teams haven't figured it out. Get in his head - make him frustrated and he can't recover. too bad, he actually does have potential. He's his own worst enemy - listen and learn and you'll be fine. He doesn't have the maturity yet to rope himself in.

  27. Good news Souhegan, you still have football.

  28. Yes, Souhegan football that pretty much beats Milford at all levels every time they play them...that is good news.

  29. I'll give you that, basketball is ours now. Deal with it.