The BST Summer League's regular season officially came to a conclusion yesterday at the Rockingham Athletic Club. Virtually every team from the league was in action as part of the league's "Crossover Weekend."
To this point, team's from the South, Central and Southeast Division have just been playing amongst themselves. But yesterday each team played 1 game against a team from one of the other divisions. In just a few hours, 18 games were played. Here's my recap of all the action, boys games as well as girls games.
9 AM games: Alvirne vs. Merrimack, Raymond vs. Nashua North, Windham vs. Derryfield
Nashua North only brought 4 kids with them. Raymond meanwhile brought 11 players with them, was able to play 5 on 4 the whole game, and they win this one easily. Windham beat Derryfield by 10.
I spent most of the time though watching Alvirne/Merrimack. A nice matchup of Division I (Class L) foes. Both teams were missing key players, but there were enough starters playing to make it a solid game, as Alvirne won it 53-39. Alvirne was led by Caleb Donnelly, Jim Tomaswick and Patrick Nager while Merrimack was led by Bryan Courtemanche, Brandon Malloch and Ryan Brownell.
In the first half Donnelly and Courtemanche carried their teams, while Tomaswick and Malloch had a rough go of it. But that changed in the second half. At one point Tomaswick and Malloch both hit back-to-back shots for their teams in the span of about a minute. Donnelly is known primarily as a shooter, but this summer he has been showing the ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well, with deceptive quickness going to the rim.
Sometimes missing some of your key guys in the summer is a good thing, because other players are able to step up and show what they can do. If Merrimack is at full strength, Dimitri Floras, Tyler Gendron and Jeff Giannelli will get a lot of the shots, making it tough for Malloch, Courtemanche and Brownell to shine. But yesterday those 3 were the offense, and they got better because of it.
Every year there are players who see very limited or zero varsity action their first 3 years, only to become important players to the team as seniors. Nager and Brownell are sure to be two of those players this season. Both players have waited patiently for their chance at significant playing time on varsity, and both are expected to either start or be a key player off the bench for Alvirne and Merrimack, respectively.
Having no inside presence definitely hurt Merrimack, as Alvirne dominated the boards.
10 AM: Sanborn vs. Windham, Trinity vs. Amesbury, Manchester West vs. Dana Barros HS (blue)
Windham beats Sanborn by about 20. Elsewhere, West won their game by 30+ from what I heard.
11 AM: Bishop Guertin vs. Haverhill, Dover vs. Groton, Manchester Memorial vs. Dana Barros HS (white)
Memorial went up by big early and cruised to a 93-33 win, so most of the time during these games I was bouncing back and forth between BG/Haverhill and Dover/Groton.
BG/Haverhill started a few minutes late, because Haverhill didn't have enough players or a coach. Eventually their coach and last couple players showed up, but some of the players didn't get to warm up before the game. BG meanwhile brought had about 9 players, and were led by Logan Kesty, Nick Pyzocha, Kyle Remillard and Joe McCarthy. They got off to a quick lead and won it easily, 51-22.
In the Dover/Groton game, Dover had almost all of their key players (only Mike LeBlanc was missing) and they continue to play solid, hard nosed, team basketball and pick up a 69-46 win over a pretty good Groton team.
Last year Groton was led by 6'6" standout Ryan Romich, a Divion I caliber player. This year it's his younger brother, junior Kyle Romich doing the damage. Dover won this game by 23, but the younger Romich probably had about 20 points of his own in the losing effort.
Bubba Mahan and Jarell Mejia continue to play well for Dover. Mahan will be one of the state's top defenders this season, and Mejia is shooting the ball very well from the outside and possibly on the verge of having a breakout junior year. mahan is another one of those players who barely got any varsity time his first 3 years but will make a big impact as a senior.
In the Memorial/Barros game, Memorial was led by Shomari Morgan, Hervens Desire, Nick Wheaton and MyNam Huynh. The bright spot for the Barros team was Sanborn's Trevor Phillips, who is a very versatile player.
12 PM: Souhegan vs. Dover, Manchester West vs. Greater Lawrence Tech, Concord vs. Milford
Bedford didn't show up, so Dover was forced to play back-to-back games. But like usual they brought plenty of players with them so it wasn't that big of a deal. For this game though, they didn't have Coach Romps on the sidelines or Kenaan Al-Darraji running the point. Morgan Faustino played very well in this game, but in the end Souhegan got the win 75-59.
Both teams were missing players who are vital to their success. No Al-Darraji for Dover, and no Devin Gilligan for Souhegan. The Sabers though used a well balanced attack to get the win. The group of players they have have been playing together for a long time. As a result, they play with a confidence that translates into success. Seth Cordts, Shaun McKenna, Brandon Len, Ryan Redmond, Sean McGrath and Zach Simmonds all contributed to the win for Souhegan.
As for West/Tech, this was a solid game featuring two of the area's most athletic teams. You had a nice matchup between "human trampolines" Quentin Hunter from West and Tech's Donald Celestin. In the end though, Tech is a veteran team that has been playing toegther for a long time while West is a team that has plenty of upside but is still a work in progress. Greater Lawrence wins 47-32.
West played about 13 kids in both games. It's good to have that many kids from the program playing summer ball. I'm sure as the season gets closer we'll see what their actual rotation will be.
One player you can bet will be in the West rotation is senior forward Jose Gonzalez, who is playing some very good ball right now. He makes the game look easy, rebounds well and also is an underrated passer.
Elsewhere, Concord defeated Milford 49-42.
1 PM: Merrimack Valley vs. Campbell, Raymond vs. Goffstown
Despite being a division lower than MV, Campbell is a more talented team. They also had most of their top players there. As a result, they won it 39-24. The Cougars were led by Josh Morgan and Andy Lepine. Tyler Syphers also did a solid job in the paint for Campbell.
In the other game, once again a Division III (Class M) squad beat a team from a higher division. Raymond is a much more talented team than Goffstown, and it showed. They won this game by about 20.
Junior Joe Morin had about 7 threes in this game and continues to show that he is one of the state's most underrated players as well as one of its best shooters.
Raymond played 1 game Thursday and 2 Saturday. They had their starting 5 all back playing together for the first time in weeks, and as a result they went 3-0 in those games. When they have their starters (Morin, Jeff Lang, Kevin Paynter, Jordon Richards and Dezimen Everett) all playing together they are tough for anyone to beat. They could be the surprise team in D-III this year.
Goffstown's Brandon Shea played well in the loss.
2 PM: Campbell vs. BG, Trinity vs. Nashua South, Manchester Central vs. Bedford
Three pretty good games. It's almost a shame that they were all going on at the same time. As opposed to the boys games where nearly all of them were blowouts, all 3 of these girls games went down to the wire. South beat Trinity 36-31, Campbell beat BG 33-29, and Central got back on the right track with a 33-29 win over Bedford.
Despite being a Division III (Class M) team, Campbell continues to show that they can compete with anyone in the state. They had junior forward Becca Arnone back in the lineup for this one after spending the last couple weeks at nationals with the NE Shooting Stars 15U team. With Arnone on the inside and Kristen Hrubowchak on the outside the Cougars pose matchup problems for any opponent.
Making it easier for Campbell was the fact that Campbell had all of their top players, while BG was missing a few of theirs, most notably Meghan Green, Jenny Fallon and Hannah Hyatt.
Campbell jumped out to a quick 14-6 lead early. But BG got back in the game, as they were led by Nikki Hayner and Madison Gibbs. Hayner shot the ball well, and Gibbs showed a solid all-around game.
Another key in this game was the pressure defense put on by Campbell. The strength of BG's team is their front line. Of their top players (Green, Hayner, Gibbs, Fallon, Hyatt) none of them are point guards. I would be surprised if Campbell is the last team to press the Guertin girls full court this season. Of course this wouldn't be a problem if Alex Cohen was still there, but of course she is transferring to the Tilton School.
In addition to Hrubowchak and Arnone, Campbell also got strong play from Liz Pettis and Ally Framarini. When they have all 4 players all playing together the Cougars are a very tough team. Conant has to be the favorite in D-III since they won it last year and have reigning 2 time Player of the Year Brooke Springfield coming back, but I expect Campbell to give Conant all they can handle.
In the Trinity/South game, you had a matchup of 2 of the state's top forwards as South's Caitlin Ackerman and Emily Martin from Trinity went at it. Both seniors are playing very well right now. Trinity also continues to get strong play from senior guard Emily Marro. And like Campbell, Trinity also got one of their key players back from nationals in junior wing Lia Nawn. Nawn has a strong frame and a good shooting stroke.
Trinity had a more talented roster, but South is a scrappy team, and they played good team basketball to grind out the win. In addition to Ackerman, they got solid play from senior guard Tavia Rzasa and junior guard Sarah Roy.
Finally, the Central/Bedford girls game. Once again, Central played without their best player Olivier Lacroix (broken finger). But with Shannon O'Neill, Lauren Harvey, Ashley Giampetruzzi and Samantha Gauthier they still had a more talented team than Bedford. All four players just mentioned played well, and the Little Green got back on the winning track after a bad loss the other day to South.