The Pelham boys basketball team beat Bedford on Thursday night in Bedford to improve to 3-0 on the young season. In their 3 wins the Pythons have an average margin of victory of a whopping 27 points. In this game they were led by senior Steve Spirou, who had 34 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 3 steals and 3 assists.
Below are the game's highlights, plus a post-game interview with the player of the game, Steve Spirou.
Keys to the Game
Despite the significant size advantage Bedford had down low, Pelham was able to dominate the boards and get a ton of offensive rebounds.
"I was disappointed in our rebounding" said Bedford coach John Langlois, who is in his first year at the helm of the Bulldogs program.
Many of Pelham's points were the result of second, third and sometimes even fourth chances. They seemed to be getting every loose ball and every rebound. They are a quicker team than Bedford and in this game it showed.
"Erik Nystrom and Brian Finney did a nice job on the boards against their bigger front line" said Pelham coach Matt Regan, who is also in his first year as the Python's coach.
Bedford's other problem in this game was turnovers. When Pelham was having the most success it was when they were pressing Bedford full court, forcing the Bulldogs to turn the ball over and then get easy baskets on the other end.
"We knew if we let them walk the ball up the floor they would just pound it inside to their big guys" said Coach Regan. "So we had to press them."
Spirou is such a tough match-up for any team, but Bedford really didn't have anyone who could match up with his size, quickness and skill set. So they played a 2-3 zone throughout the game. It was effective initially, as Pelham only scored 7 points in the 1st quarter. But the 2nd and 3rd quarters were the difference, as the Pythons scored 18 points in the 2nd quarter and 20 points in the 3rd. Spirou had a big game to lead the way.
"Steve has done everything I've asked of him" said Regan. "He's also unselfish, and even though he scored a lot of points all of them came in the flow of the offense and he didn't force anything."
Also playing well for Pelham were junior point guard Derek Defranzo, Brett Bailey, Jesse Vaiknoras and Anthony Spirou (Steve's younger brother).
In the preseason rankings Pelham was ranked #6 and Bedford #7 in Division II. And especially with this game being played in Bedford you would expect it to be much closer. In Bedford's defense, they were playing without one starter in 6'6" senior forward Jared Fahmy, and another key player in 6'6" sophomore forward Will McInerny.
"Jared has a sore ankle and Will has a back injury" said Coach Langlois. "They'll both try to go next week."
Bedford really could have used Richard O'Brien against the Pelham press. O'Brien is a tough guard and good ball handler. He would have been a junior this year for the Bulldogs, but he transferred to Brewster Academy over the summer.
Bedford did make a nice run in the 4th quarter though. Pelham led 43-21 with 2:11 left in the 3rd quarter, and trailed 45-26 heading into the 4th. But Bedford made a little comeback and cut the lead down to just 10, and with 6:02 left in the game they were only down 49-39. The run was led by senior guard Matt Beaulieu, who ended up with a team-high 12 points. He really asserted himself on both ends of the floor as the game went on. Junior guard Trevor Glassman also played well late for Bedford, knocking down a three-pointer. And both Glassman and Beaulieu had and-1 finished on hard drives to the rim. They were attacking the basket and taking advantage of Pelham's lack of size inside.
"We cut the lead from 20 down to 10, so we showed some character there in the 4th" explained Langlois.
Bedford is THE biggest team in the state, and they had some lofty expectations going into the season. But they have now lost 2 games in a row heading into the holiday break.
"It's tough when you take over a program and only have 2 weeks to put in a new system" lamented Langlois. "You don't know which band-aid to patch first. But we'll get better."
Pelham meanwhile has to feel pretty good about where they're at. While teams like Goffstown, Lebanon, Pembroke, Portsmouth, Bedford, John Stark, Kearsarge and Hanover are beating each other up and all have early season losses, the Pythons are sitting pretty at 3-0, and have outscored their opponents by a combined 82 points in those 3 wins. Milford is clearly the #1 team in the division (even after losing starting wing Scott McCallum to a season-ending knee injury), but it would be tough to not put Pelham in the #2 spot right now. That would be pretty impressive considering they had a pretty darn good player of their own transfer over the summer in 6'3" bruiser Mike Lombard. Lombard played some great ball over the summer, and it's scary to think how good this Pelham team would be with him in the lineup.
"We only have 3 guys who played varsity basketball before this year" said Regan. "Some of them have started off slow playing with the bright lights for the first time."