Tonight I traveled to Northwood to get my first regular season look at the Coe-Brown Bears. Coe-Brown led 13-11 at one point, and 13-11 after one quarter. But after that it was all Pembroke, winning it on the road 70-49. Coleton Neely scored 16 of his game-high 21 in the first half to lead the Spartans. There's not a whole lot you can say about a game that was over with 7 minutes still to play in the fourth quarter. So I'll keep this one short and sweet.
*Right now in Class I, it's the top 3 teams and then everyone else. Pembroke has won 11 games in a row, Oyster River has won 9 straight, and Milford is on an 8 game winning streak. Can we please see two of these teams play each other??? guess we'll just have to wait until Durham. Yes, I know Milford already beat up on Oyster River. But that was a LONG time ago. Clearly the Bobcats are a different team now. Oyster River was off tonight. This allowed their head coach Stuart Mitchell to go to the game and scout Pembroke. And oh by the way he got to see his son play at the same time. For those that don't know, his son is Skyler Mitchell, the 6'3" sophomore forward and the Bears best player.
*I was very impressed with Pembroke tonight. Coe-Brown was in the game in the first quarter. But Pembroke just has too many weapons, too many kids who can hurt you offensively. They are just too good in the open court. It's true that they lack size. But if you let them get out and run on you they'll eat you alive. They're fast, skilled and have good team chemistry.
To have any chance of beating them, you have to either:
a) Have the speed and offensive weapons to run with them and beat them in a shootout or...
b) You have to slow the tempo WAY down, make it a half court game and limit turnovers in the half court because if you turn it over Pembroke will turn it into 2 points at the other end and they'll do it FAST.
The only team that has a shot at beating them in a shootout is Milford. If those two teams meet in the tournament it would be an outstanding basketball game. This is unheard of in NH High School basketball, but if we do see that match-up don't be surprised to see both teams score more than 70. If it's a half court game Oyster River and Portsmouth both have a chance. Lebanon is a good half court team but has lost to Pembroke twice.
*Give Coe-Brown at least some credit. They led 13-11 after one quarter. And with 5:24 left in the 3rd quarter they were right in the game, only down by 4, 34-30. Then Pembroke really started to get out on the break. They went on a 12-0 run...in just 2 minutes and 16 seconds!
*I was once again impressed by Neely tonight. With over 3 minutes left in the second quarter he already had 16 points! He hit 4 three's and was 7-8 from the free throw line. Played solid defense and ran the offense effectively both on the break and in the half court against the 2-3 zone that Coe-Brown was in all game.
*Sheldon Benson continues to play out of position, being forced to guard the opponent's best low post scorer. And he continues to excel. Coe-Brown's 6'3" sophomore forward is a talented young player. He finished tonight with 10 points and 7 rebounds. But it was obvious that he was being frustrated by the smaller Benson, who is able to defend bigger players due to toughness, effort and he's not afraid to get physical down there either.
*Dalton Cheney for Pembroke is one of those "glue players". He's not the star for the Spartans, but he's the glue that keeps the team together. His game reminds me a lot of Merrimack's Travis Maser. A hard nosed kid that plays the game the right way. What I like most about Cheney is how he kind of plays with a chip on his shoulder, and has a swagger to him. Without question, he has the best "game face" in NH basketball. Seriously, watch Pembroke play and look at his face. So intense, so focused. Good stuff.
*There are many people in favor of a shot clock for NH high school basketball. My guess is that Pembroke coach Matt Alosa is not one of them. There were two separate occassions during tonight's game when he instructed his team, "One shot!" This is not uncommon at all. Thing is, when he said this there was over FIFTY seconds left to play in the quarter! This first time was at the end of the half, when his team LITERALLY held the ball for the last 1:08 of the half before Benson glided in for a layup. Then at the end of the second quarter there was still :51 left when he told his team he wanted just one shot. Yikes! NHIAA, I'm begging you...WE NEED A SHOT CLOCK!
*For Coe-Brown, I was impressed with junior 5'10" guard Dan Lang. Lang had a team high 17 points, including 11 in the second half. He's one of those players where he;s not the fastest or most athletic kid around, but he gets the absolute most out of his ability. He plays hard and plays with heart. Makes some strong drives to the bucket and can shoot it from the outside if you leave him open. He also has to be one of the most improved players in the state over the course of the season. I saw Coe-Brown play a few times in the Rochester Fall League. Lang made some shots here and there, but overall didn't impress me much during the fall. But he's a very much improved player now.
*It was Senior Night for Coe-Brown. They made a nice gesture as well. Not only dd the honor their seniors, but they also honored Pembroke's seniors. One by one, they called out the names of the Spartan seniors who then came to half court, received a bouquet a flowers and then gave them to their parents. Just like the Coe-Brown seniors.
It was a nice gesture by Coe-Brown, but it made for some awkward moments. Since it was an away game for Pembroke, most of the parents for the Pembroke seniors weren't there. So they were handed their flowers and had no one to give them to. What was also awkward was that when the Pembroke seniors' names were called, they were handed the flowers by Coe-Brown players. These two teams are about to play each other, and before the game they're giving each other flowers! Like I said, it was a nice gesture by Coe-Brown, but some it was a little awkward.
*Before tonight I was under the impression that the tallest player in the NHIAA was Trinity's 6'9" sophomore Sylvere Aluko. Tonight I found out that I was wrong. Coe-Brown has a kid on their JV team by the name of Bob Wegner. He's a junior...and he's 7'4".
*Well so much for making this post a short one! I suppose even in a 21 point blowout there are still many things that can be taken from a game.