The first semi-final of the night (Trinity vs. Alvirne) was a slow moving, half court game that really dragged on at the end. The second semi was the opposite.
It was a fast-paced game between 2 good basketball teams. But often times when all things are even the difference can be a player you least expect who steps up and has a big game. In this game, that player was senior point guard Nick Pyzocha, who led Bishop Guertin to a 64-55 win over Manchester Central, and a spot in Saturday's D-I title game.
"I don't why everyone is saying we don't have a point guard" said Bishop Guertin head coach Jim Migneault. "Everyone saw tonight that we have a pretty good one."
Big Games for Pyzocha and Green
Pyzocha OWNED the 1st half, scoring 16 of his career-high 18 points. He also grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. He has had a very good season, but typically he just plays tough defense and distributes the ball on offense. He did much more in this game. And as a result, the Bishop Guertin boys basketball team is headed to the Division title game after defeating Manchester Central 64-55 on Tuesday night in Durham.
Green also had a big game for the Cardinals, finishing with a game-high 24 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal. He made some VERY difficult shots throughout the game, in addition to battling in the paint with Central star forward John Wickey.
Pyzocha was getting to the rim ad finishing at will. He shot 9/12 (75%) from the floor, in addition to making some nice passes and playing solid defense.
"He's been doing it all year for us" said Coach Migneault. "And he's been coming on even more towards the end of the year."
Central Was Resilient, Kept Battling All Game
Central is not a deep team (6 player rotation) but they are a resilient one. BG jumped out to a quick 13-4 lead. Wickey made a nice move and finish at the end of the 1st quarter (against some nice defense by Green) to cut the Guertin lead to 3, 19-16. Central then took a 23-21 2nd quarter lead, as Junior Brown concerted a wide open layup off an inbounds play where BG's defense broke down. BG then went on a 7-0 run to take a 28-23 lead. Just when it looked like the Cardinals were getting momentum back, Central came right back and cut the lead to just 1 at the half, 32-31.
Then when they went down by 12 in the 3rd quarter, the Little Green just kept fighting and cut the lead to 2, 49-47 in the 4th. Wickey had a nice game to lead the way for Central, with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. It was the end of the career for a player who has been one of the state's best over the last 3 years.
"Wickey played like a man out there" said Migneault. "He's a great player. We've gone up against him so many times over the last couple years. Now on Sunday I get to coach him on the Granite Games."
The 2 other players for Central who really impressed were guard Audie Melendez and sophomore guard/forward Troy Pelletier. Melendez is one of those kids that just never gives up and always plays hard. He's a streaky shooter, but tonight he was definitely on. He shot 5/8 from the floor, 4/7 from three, en route to 15 points and 1 steal. He also grabbed 7 rebounds, despite only being 5'8". Melendez had a big and-1 three-pointer at the end of the 2nd quarter to cut into the BG lead. Pelletier came off the bench for Central 3 minutes into the game. He played so well that head coach Doc Wheeler did not take him out for the whole rest of the game. He had 8 points, 6 rebounds, and did all of the little things well to help the team.
Big 3rd Quarter for BG Was the Difference
Central had the momentum heading into the locker room at halftime. They cut the BG lead to 32-31 at the break. But then in the 2nd half Guertin came out of the locker room like a bat outta hell (for you Meatloaf fans), going on an 11-0 run to take a 43-31 lead.
"We came out of the locker room ready to play" said Migneault. "We've been doing that to teams a lot this year."
Kyle Remillard got out on the break and finished a layup, Green made a nice drive and finish inside at the basket. Then Sean McClung got out on the break and now it was his turn to finish in transition. Guertin ramped up their defensive pressure, forced Central to turn the ball over (The Little Green had 20 turnovers on the game) and then got some easy baskets on the other end. BG also did a nice job of shutting down Central guard Gabe LaCount. LaCount has had some big games scoring the basketball in the playoffs, and besides Wickey he's the team's most capable scorer. But it wasn't until less than 2 minutes were left in the 3rd quarter until LaCount scored his first point (and he only ended up with 5 on the night).
On another note, out of BG's 64 points on the game, 62 of them came from their starting 5. People often talk about BG and their depth. But They really only went about 7 deep in this game, with their starting 5 (Green, McClung, Pyzocha, Steve Cuipa and Remillard) doing virtually all of the scoring. They also didn't press nearly as much as their normally do.
After Central cut the uertin lead to 49-47 in the 4th, it was Mike Kelly (who got more minutes in the 2nd half due to a leg injury to Cuipa) who really came up big to seal the win. On back-to-back plays, Kelly (who was playing at the school, UNH that he will be playing his college football at) made a pair of BIG steals. Both steals led to baskets. They were big baskets which gave the momentum right back to the Cardinals. Especially the one where Kelly stole the ball right away from LaCount near half court and then laid it in on the other end. That give Bg a 56-49 lead with jut 1:50 left to play.
"It was a big play and it came at a big time" said Coach Migneault.