2 Great basketball games over at Lundholm today, a fitting end to a great season. Milford wins the Class I title with a 52-46 win over Pembroke. And in Class L Pinkerton beats Winnacunnet in double-overtime 61-59. Two amazing games, especially the Class L game. This post contains recaps of both the Class L and Class I title games!!
Hate to Say I Told You So, But...
I've aready mentioned this in other posts in the past couple weeks, but it bares repeating. Days before the Class L and Class I tournaments began I was producing a high school hockey game on WTSN, and between periods I went on the air to talk high school hoops with Andy Schachat. He asked me point blank, to pick the team I thought would win the Class L and Class I championship. Right away I said Pinkerton and Milford. And this was before the tournaments even started. I have it on tape if you don't believe me!
Pinkerton 61 Winnacunnet 59 (2 OT)
"This is one of the greatest state championship games in a long time" exclaimed Pinkerton coach Pete Rosinski, who was all smiles after the win.
It was back and forth all game throughout, with neither team leading by more than 5 points
It's Official: Zach Mathieu SHOULD Be Player of the Year
Now that the last game of the season has ended, it is now, and only now that it's ok to do any voting for Player of the Year and All-State awards. Senior center Zach Mathieu put the Astros on his back, just like he did vs. Dover in the semis and just like he has done all year long. Last night he had 37 points, about 20 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Mathieu had 37 points. No other player who played in the game scored more than 12. Watching this game was like watching 1 college player playing with and against a group of high school players.
"He's got over 80 blocks" said a proud Rosinski. "I don't know anyone who's had over 80 blocks in a season. Plus he's scored 1,000 points"
There is no question in my mind Mathieu could play ball at the Division II level, and be a scholarship player. He is now the #1 ranked senior player in NH. This is all astonishing to fathom, because in this age of AAU and kids playing basketball year-round, Mathieu only plays hoops four months out of the year and that's it! And he's an even better baseball player. I have already mentione dthis before on this site, but the kid has a full ride to play baseball at Franklin Pierce. He's had scouts from the Arizona Diamondbacks looking at him, and he may get drafted in a couple months by a Major League team.
Gould Was Clutch for the Warriors
If you were at the game last night you might wonder why I make this statement. Afterall, his 3 point attempt at the end of the second overtime that would have won the game for Winnacunnet barely grazed iron. And he also airballed a 3 in the first overtime that if it went in then Winnacunnet would have likely won it and there wouldn't have been a second overtime. However, Pinkerton would have won this game in regulation EASILY if it wasn't for Gould.
Here's a funny story. Early in the fourth quarter I actually wrote in my notebook, "tough game so far for Gould." I wrote this because had some tough foul calls on him, had a bunch of shots rim out on him, and had some turnovers. It was early in the fourth and Winnacunnet's leading scorer only had 2 points. But IMMEDIATELY after I wrote it, Gould nailed a three to tie the game up at 30 with 5:53 left to play. Then right after that he hit another 3, this one giving the Warriors the lead 33-30 to complete an 8-0 Winnacunnet run.
Then just 13 seconds after Chad Park hit 2 BIG free throws to give Pinkerton a 38-35 lead, Gould came right back down the court and hit ANOTHER huge three to tie it up with just over a minute left in regulation.
Then in the second overtime there was once again just over a minute left when Mathieu had a big and-one play to put the Astros up 3. Just when it looked they really had the momentum on their side, Gould does what? You guessed it, he drills yet another clutch try and ties it up 56.
That's FOUR threes for Gould either tied the game or gave Winnacunnet the lead, all coming in the 4th quarter or in overtime.
How Far They've Come!
Here's a little perspective on just how far these 2 teams have come to get where they ended up: Less than 3 months ago both Pinkerton was playing in the Lawrence Holiday Tournament...IN THE LAST PLACE GAME!! Winnacunnet meanwhile only made it to the 5th place game in the Oyster River Holiday Tournament, and that tourney didn't nearly have the talent that the Lawrence one did.
Now, let's go even further back. I went to summer league games, fall league games and preseason scrimmages. I probably saw about 50 Class L games before the regular season even started. Yet in my Class L Season Preview, I had Pinkerton ranked #11 and Winnacunnet ranked #13...ouch! Two things need to be said here. One is that I owe both teams an apology for severely understimating them. And the other is that ir really goes to show you how far they have come over the course of the season. It wasn't just me, preseason nobody was talking about either of these teams as contenders. All of the talk was about BG, Trinity, Merrimack, Dover, Memorial and even Alvirne and Salem.
Now, let's go even FURTHER back, to last season. Pinkerton had much more talent last year than they did this season. Colby Verge and Beau Cassidy, a pair of All-State guards graduated. Scott King, a 6'8" forward, transferred to the Holderness School. The Astros also lost a pair of solid role players in Alex Rees and Brendan Peguero. They lost all of that talent, and that was off of a team that got blown out on their home floor in the prelims last year! They went from that to champions...what a story.
As for Winnacunnet, their off court distractions of last season have been well documented. They were team turnoil last year. They also lost 4 very good senior in Jared Gillis, Ryan Dubois, Nate Vincent and Nathan Roe. Plus they had that 6'5" kid who was pretty good who didn't play this year either (I know all of the Winnacunnet people are sick of hearing about him so I won't mention his name). Not only that, but Jack Ford's passing during the season was also very tough on this team emotionally. So for them to make it as far as they did as a HUGE accomplishment. You have to give Coach McKenna and his players a TON of credit.
Milford 52 Pembroke 46
The big story going into this game was the suspension of Milford star point guard Mike Mitchell. These were no doubt the two best teams in Class I. I think most would agree that with both squads at full strength it would be pretty much a tossup, with Milford being possibly slight favorites. So with Mitchell, who is at times Milford's most valuable player, being out for this game and Dalton Cheney back in the lineup for Pembroke after he was suspended for the Oyster River game, you would have to think that Pembroke should win this game.
But Milford played some excellent basketball. You would think that playing without a kid who handles the ball 70% of the time for you would hurt quite a bit. But Mike O'Loughlin and Jamie Holder handled the ball well, they ran the offense effectively along with Kevin Cyr and Jovi Philbrick on the perimeter and you could count on one hand the number of turnoevrs they had.
It was a team effort for Milford. Holder, O'Loughlin, Cyr, Nelson, Philbrick, McCallum and Desmarais all played good, solid basketball. Nelson had some big blocks late in the game. And you have to give Philbrick credit. Here's a kid that was playing JV and not even getting varsity minutes for the first half of the season. But he kept working hard and got the start yesterday in place of Mitchell. He played some solid ball out there too, especially for a kid who's only a sophomore playing on the UNH floor.
Odd First Quarter
Neither team scored any points in the first 3 minutes or the last 2 minutes of the first quarter. That's 5 minutes of scoreless basketball in 1 period of play. In the other 3 minutes however, there were 18 total points scored - go figure! Also, neither team attempted a free throw in the first quarter.
O'Loughlin and Holder Have Scholarship Potential
Division II St. Anselm's is showing strong interest in Holder. O'Loughlin has been getting a ton of interest from D-III schools, but judging by the way he is playing right now he will also be getting D-II interest. O'Loughlin has a very solid frame and the ability to drive and score on anyone. He plays hard on both ends of the floor. Holder is explosive to the hoop, and has an improved outside shot. He just has to get bigger.
Give Credit to Pembroke
These guys gave Milford a good game. They battled hard, but they just couldn't keep O'Loughlin and Holder in front of them defensively. But when you think about it defense wasn't their problem, because they held a Milford team that routinely scores in the 70's to just 52 points. The problem was on offense. 46 points for a team is fast and skilled as Pembroke shouldn't happen. Coleton Neely and Sheldon Benson carried the load. But they didn't get enough help from the rest of the team. Overall, they just didn't click offensively the way they usually do. They tuurned the ball over more than they normally do. And for them to put up a lot of points they need more production from guys like Cheney, Maher, Riel and Persons. That being said, these guys gave it their all and lost to a Milford team that was just a little better. Still a very good season for Pembroke.