Four solid games to begin the summer. All four games were nail biters. One had a game winning shot with 10 seconds left, and another went to OT. Here's my recap of last night's action over at SNHU. I also break down some of the top incoming freshmen who were on display.
I will have recaps of the BST Summer League all summer long. Meanwhile, NH Sports Page will have rosters, stats and scores for the league over at www.nhsportspage.com
Game 1: Pembroke vs. Dover
This was probably the game of the night. Dover wins it 43-41 thanks to a game winning three pointer by "Bubba" Mahan. The Green Wave played this game instead of Central, who didn't show up. This meant they played two games back-to-back. Luckily for them they brought about 16 kids with them so they didn't get too burnt out by the end.
Rene Maher played VERY well in the loss for Pembroke. Dover did a nice job of pressure defense on Maher, they were double and sometimes triple teaming him out on the perimeter to try and force turnovers. But the freshman was cool under pressure, handling the ball well, getting away from the double teams and making plays. He made some nice drives, hit some big outside shots, distributed te ball well to teammates and played solid defense. Don't be surprised if Maher makes Division-II first team All-State next season.
One thing that happened in this game that you definitely don't see every day was this. Dover had one offensive possession that lasted THREE minutes. The Green Wave were up by 5 with 6 minutes left. They were running clock. Pembroke meanwhile was sitting in a 2-3 zone, just like they had been doing all game. Dover guard Colin Shaughnnessy had the basketball three steps inside the half court line and dribbled the basketball for literally 2 minutes straight. Everyone in the stands was just looking at each other as if to say, "When is something going to happen?" It was surreal. Finally Pembroke came out and defended the basketball, forcing Shaughnessy to pass.
Speaking of the Pembroke zone, here's some food for thought. Last summer the Spartans played a 2-3 zone all summer during the BST League. Then when the regular season started they went man-to-man, and that's the defense they played pretty much all season. If they're a man defensive team, why play zone in summer league? Probably just to try and give teams a different look and keep them off balance. The Alosa's are always thinking. Speaking of which, Frank Alosa was on the Pembroke sidelines last night helping to coach the team along with Coach Segal. These are the same coaches who coach the Granite State Raiders AAU program, the same program which most of Pembroke's players play for.
Ok, back to the game itself. One of the other highlights of the night were a half court buzzer beater right before halftime by 5'6" guard Brad Rhoades.
Others who played well for Pembroke would be Jordan Williams, Patrick Welch, Matt Persons and Kent Noyes. Dover was led by Morgan Faustino, Mahan, Kenaan Al-Darraji and Jarell Mejia.
Speaking of Rhoades, Williams and Welch. Three players I've mentioned for Pembroke. Here's the thing, all three of them...are only in 8th grade! That's 2 of their starters, and the first player off the bench. Three of the top 6 players and none of them have stepped foot in a high school classroom yet. Their other three starters were Maher (freshman), Persons (freshman) and Noyes (sophomore). The Spartans could be the youngest team we have seen in quite some time...ant they're actually pretty good!
This game had an exciting finish to it. Dover was up 40-29, but then Pembroke went on a 12-0 run to take a 41-40 lead with 40 seconds left. Then with 10 seconds left Mahan hit a three from the right wing to put Dover up by 2. Pembroke had one last chance, and Maher drove to the basket, pulled up from 15 feet away and took a turnaround fade away jumper at the buzzer to try and send it to OT. The shot rimmed out though, and Dover wins it 43-41.
Game 2: Dover vs. Memorial
Dover now had to play again, this time against Memorial. After the last game went down to the wire, it would be understandable if they came out in the second game a little flat. That's exactly what happened, as the Crusaders jumped out to a 22-5 lead with 8:12 left in the first half. Dover though answered back, making a 14-0 run and trailing by just 3, 22-19 with 40 seconds left in the first half. Memorial ended up winning it 39-37.
Memorial's team isn't as young as Pembroke's, but they are still pretty young. Shomari Morgan, Hervens Desire and Rodney Martinez are the only three players who are on this year's team who saw significant playing time a year ago. The good news though is that Coach Fitzpatrick will have 3 good senior players to count on. Others who contributed last night in Memorial's 2 games include Nick Wheaton and a trio of athletic freshman in Joel Mayola, Tong Akot and Zoubel Iradukunda.
Game 3: Merrimack vs. Bedford
A lot of key players on both sides were M.I.A. for this one. Still a solid ballgame though. Not a lot of turnovers on either side, and tough hard nosed defense was played all around. Bedford was missing Joey Maher and Nate Larrivee, while Merrimack was missing Tyler Amigo, Jeff Giannelli, Bryan Courtemanche and Jared Peabody.
This game went to overtime, before Bedford won it 45-43. The Bulldogs played a solid team game. Not any one player stood out the most, but Jared Fahmy, Trevor Fahmy, Richard O'Brien, Matt Beaulieu and Trevor Glassman all contributed. They'll be one of the better teams in D-II next season no doubt.
As for Merrimack, Dimitri Floras played well. He controlled the tempo of the game, and hit some key shots. But he also missed some shots inside where he tried to make the shot more difficult than it had to be when he could have just went straight up with the ball and gotten to the line. Tyler Gendron had a decent game, and he also was playing alongside his little brother Eric who is only an 8th grader. Brandon Malloch and Ryan Brownell also contributed for Merrimack.
Also during this game, I got word that Anthony Floras will be attending Boston University in the fall to study biomedical engineering. Congrats and best of luck to him.
Game 4: Trinity vs. Memorial
The last game of the night was another good one. Trinity wins it 46-40 in a back-and-forth affair.
Memorial actually jumped out to a 17-10 lead. That was the largest lead either squad had all game, and they still lost. Say what you want about it being "just summer league" and not mattering. Because Coach Keefe for Trinity and Coach Fitzpatrick for Memorial were both on the sidelines coaching their teams in this one and both treated it like a regular season contest. Good stuff.
Right off the bat during warmups, you can't help but notice the staggering amout of size that Trinity has. You have 6'9" sophomore Sylvere Aluko, 6'6" sophomore Andrew Lauderdale, 6'6" freshman Mabor Gabriel and 6'5" junior David Madol. During the game, Trintiy rotated their bigs in and out, and always had 2 of them on the floor at all times.
In the back court they rotated Travis Descoteaux, Jake Hamel, Hunter Viscarello and Patrick Keefe in and out. Patrick Keefe is another player who is only in 8th grade still and is also the son of Pioneer head coach Dave Keefe.
Another indication that the game didn't have the feel of a scrimmage was how hard the teams were playing. At one point early in the second half there was a loose ball, and players from both teams immediately dove on the floor to go after it. Four different players went after it. At that moment I was thinking, "You can't tell me summer league doesn't matter. Both teams kept getting after it hard, and later it actually resulted in a couple of injuries. Iradukunda limped off the floor with a sprained ankle, and Descoteaux left the game after cramping up pretty bad.
Memorial had there whole team there. Clearly they have some work to do. And they won't be as good as they have been the past 2 years when they made the Class L title game and then the quarterfinals. But there is some athleticism there, some hustle, kids who play hard and a coach in Fitzpatrick who you know will make them better.
As for Trinity they had a very talented team present, especially considering they played without their second best player, Zach Stevens. Stevens tore his ACL during the last regular season game this past season. He had knee surgery a few weeks ago, and is now rehabbing the knee. He is expected to be back on the court and able to play in full court games as early as August, but definitely by September. This is good news for the Pioneers. They won't have him during the BST league, but they almost certainly have him back for the Fall League over at Rivier.
Another player that Trinity was missing was sophomore Dylan Lafond. With Phil Hayden graduating, someone will have to play point guard for this team now. Many thought Lafond could be that player. With him absent last night, Trinity went with a "point guard by committee" approach with Viscarello, Hamel and Descoteaux all sharing the duties.
Introducing the Class of 2014
I've mentioned some solid players in this write-up who are only 8th graders and will be freshman next season. Here's a quick look at each of them.
(Players listed in alphabetical order)
Eric Gendron, 5'11", Guard, Merrimack - Gendron is a quick, athletic wing player with a solid frame and plays with confidence. Don't be surprised if he contributes off the bench as a freshman this year for the Tomahawks.
Patrick Keefe, 5'10", Guard, Trinity - On a very deep Trinity team, Keefe saw decent minutes in the back court especially in the second half. He took the ball hard to the rim, played tough, in-your-face defense and hit a nice 18 foot jumper as well. When Stevens is healthy and Lafond is there Keefe might not see much varsity time come the regular season. But I wouldn't be surprised to see him come off the bench for the varsity and get some good minutes here or there as a freshman if he keeps working hard.
Brad Rhoades, 5'6", Guard, Pembroke - Tough little guard who has good quickness. Rhoades was the first player off the bench for the Spartans. But then again they were playing without Tyler Morrison and Coleton Neely (still trying to petition for extra year of eligibility). So if those guys are there it's tough to tell how much time he'll see. His highlight was hitting the half court buzzer beater at the end of the first half.
Patrick Welch, 5'10" Guard, Pembroke - Solid guard, fits in VERY well with the Pembroke system which is a guard-oriented offense. He can handler the ball and shoot it well. Looks very comfortable out on the court, defensively and with the ball in his hands. Definitely doesn't player like an 8th grader. He will almost definitely start this season for the Spartans as a freshman, something Coach Matt Alosa has shown he is not afraid to do.
Jordan Williams, 6'1", Forward, Pembroke - Solid player, definitely didn't play like an 8th grader. Good size and athleticism. I list him at 6'1", but he may be closer to 6'2". Good rebounder and defender. Didn't look to score much, but looked comfortable on the offensive end and was content to let Maher, Persons, Welch and Noyes take the shots.