Today there was 2 different teams whose school color is green who were in action in the boys Class L semi-finals on St. Patrick's Day. No luck for the green teams however, as both Dover and BG lost. Pinkerton beat Dover in the first game 61-57, and Winnacunnet defeated Guertin 63-56 in the other semi-final game. Perhaps the luck would have been different if the infamous "Green Men" from Bedford made an appearance!
A Couple of Cool Tid-Bits
-The top 2 seeds in the tournament have now advanced to the title game this year in boys Class L, (Winnacunnet/Pinkerton), Class I (Milford/Pembroke) and Class M (Conant/Berlin) as well as girls Class L (Winnacunnet and Pinkerton).
-Winnacunnet and Pinkerton are meeting in the Class L title game on the boys side as well as the girls.
-Winnacunnet beat Pinkerton in the girls final 46-41. If Winnacunnet beats Pinkerton in the boys final on Saturday, the Warriors will take home the Class L title for both the boys and girls. That would be a great achievement for the school.
-It wouldn't however, be the first time a school in NH has captured both the boys and girls basketball championships in the same year. In fact, it's already happened twice...this year! Groveton won both championships in Class S, and Conant did the trick in Class M. And in Class I, the Kennett girls team won the title. And while their boys team didn't match them by winning it all, their boys hockey team did. The Kennett boys hockey team won the Division III title. So Groveton wins Class S boys and Girls, Conant wins Class M boys and girls, Kennett wins Class I girls and D-III boys hockey. And Winnacunnet won Class L girls and they're in the championship game for the boys. Who knew!?
Pinkerton 61 Dover 57
Dover was in control of this game in the first half. They led 31-29 at halftime despite the fact that Pinkerton 6'7" center Zach Mathieu had 22 first half points, including 16 in the second quarter.
Dover guard Kenaan Al-Darraji hit a three to start the third quarter, but after that Pinkerton went on a 19-7 run. On this run it wasn't just Mathieu doing the damage. He did have a big and-one play following a Green wave turnover, but Alex Patrikis, Ben Proulx and Kevin Colbert also made plays during the run as well. The run gave the Astros a 48-41 lead, and it was 49-42 after 3 quarters.
Everyone was getting involved for Pinkerton in their third quarter run, as opposed to the first half when it was "All Mathieu All the Time." In fact, Proulx, Patrikis and Chad Park all went scoreless in the first half for the Astros. That's why despite the 22 from Mathieu, they were still losing at the half.
Dover made a nice run though in the fourth quarter. Alex Burt hit a three to tie it up, 51-51 with 3:41 to play for a 9-2 Green Wave run. Coach Romps' team began double and triple teaming Mathieu. He only scored 10 in the second half as opposed to 22 in the first. From there the pace of the game picked up, the intensity heightened, and both fan sections really got into it as the two teams traded baskets at a furious pace.
Proulx and Mathieu had a couple of big buckets for Pinkerton to put them up 57-55 with 1:36 left. These were a couple of easy layups after the Astros beat Dover full court pressure. Dover made their run early in the quarter by pressing full court and forcing Astro turnovers. But then Pinkerton adjusted, and got some easy layups off the pressure.
Dover had a chance a chance to tie it up in the final seconds. They trailed 60-57 with 20 seconds left. With Burt, Al-Darraji and Duffy as some of the best shooters around you would think they could definitely have a legit shot (no pun intended) to tie it up. But Burt was dribbling the ball a few feet behind the top of the keep. Al-Darraji was running off of screens, trying to get open. Credit the defense of Pinkerton, because he wasn't able to do so. Burt was also covered well on the ball and had nowhere to go with the ball, and Dover was out of timeouts. Burt took a couple dribbles to the left and was trying to force the ball over to a teammate when Proulx came up with a steal with about 3 seconds left. Proulx was fouled, made 1 of 2 FT's, and with it being a 2 possession game it was over.
Mathieu for POY?
Mathieu was the reason Pinkerton won this game, no question about it. The kid was "in the zone," especially in the second quarter. The future Franklin Pierce baseball player and possible Major League player had 32 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks. If Nicco Demasco from Monadnock got a full scholarship and Salem's Josh Jones got a partial to play basketball at Franklin Pierce, there's no question that Mathieu could at least get a partial to play basketball there.
I'll be just a baseball player in college" said Mathieu. "The basketball coach at Franklin Pierce knows that. I'll just be trying to stay healthy for baseball."
But the fact remains that after last night's performance, Mathieu has to be currently the leading candidate for Class L Player of the Year. The voting has already happened however. But if you follow this blog you know how I feel about this issue! Last night however, was a POY caliber performance from Mathieu, that's for sure.
Winnacunnet 63 Bishop Guertin 56
There were 2 BIG stories with this game:
1) The fact that Winnacunnet jumped out to such a HUGE lead.
2) The fact that BG was able to come back (but not quite all the way) from such a large deficit.
Winnacunnet started out the game on fire. They went up 14-3 right off the bat. They ked 36-18 at the half, and built their largest lead of the game in the third quarter.
For the first 2 and 1/2 quarters the Warriors played darn near perfect basketball. They were playing the game at an extremely fast pace, but at the same time they maintained control and composure. They played suffocating man-to-man defense, really getting in the face of the BG players, playing good help defense, getting in passing lanes and beating the Cardinals to EVERY loose ball. They were also limiting BG to 1 shot on virtually every possession. Offensively, they were unselfish, they pushed the ball, and set each other up for good looks. And when they got good looks at the basket, whether they were three's or layups they were making them. This team flat out plays team basketball, and they don't care who scores just as long as the TEAM scores.
Jesse Gould drilled a three from the top of the key to make it 42-20 Winnacunnet with 3:58 left in the third. It sent the Warriors faithful into a frenzy. At the time I felt like that shot was the dagger that would end Guertin's season. At that point I thought the game was over.
So BG was down 22 with 3:58 left in the third. And then thanks to a furious rally they cut the Winnacunnet lead to as little as 2, at 51-49 with about 3 minutes left in the game. You have to give the Warriors a ton of credit for the way they played for the first 2 and a half quarters when they playe near perfect team basketball. But at the same time, you have to give the Cardinals a lot of credit as well for battling back.
"I'm proud of my kids" remarked a melancholy BG coach Jim Migneult after the game. "I'm proud of the way we battled back, and how we had different kids step up."
From there though, Winnacunnet was able to hold on for the win. Harry Knowles had a couple of big steals and Nick McGrail had a big and-one play with 16 seconds left to seal the deal.
Knowles Squashes Rumors
There have been some rumors on here that Harry Knowles is headed to the University of Connecticut. Last night he squashed those rumors.
"Yeah, I heard about those rumors, but they're not true. I'm not going to UConn" Knowles informed me after the win over BG. "I'm looking at doing a post-grad year, possibly at Tilton. I'll be looking to play baseball, that's my best sport."