Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BST Summer League - 6/20/11 Recap

Monday night's action over at SNHU in the BST Summer League's Central Division featured 4 prime match ups, with 3 of them being very close games throughout. It was Concord vs. Trinity, Merrimack vs. Memorial, Dover vs. Winnacunnet and Central vs. Raymond. Here are the recaps of each contest.

Concord vs. Trinity
Concord once again showed that they are a young but up and coming team who can hang with just about anybody in the state. In their last 2 games they went toe-to-toe with Memorial and now Trinity. They lost both games but still they battled and were close with those teams the whole way, and had 2nd half leads in both contests. This time Trinity pulled out the win 54-44.

Mabor Gabriel (pictured above) was the standout player in this game. The long and athletic 6'7" four man showed his ability to stretch the floor by knocking down a pair of three-pointers in the 1st half. His catch and release was very smooth, especially for a big. Gabriel also had some big time blocked shots and a slam dunk off a teammate's missed free throw which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Also playing well for Trinity was incoming freshman Ian Sistare. The 6'1" Sistare is very versatile, once again showing the ability to play the 1, the 2 or the 3. He had some strong drives to the rim and finishes against contact, showed a smooth pull-up jumper and a good feel for the game. Sistare pushed the tempo, looking for his shot but also not forcing anything. Right when Concord was making a run in the 2nd half, Sistare had back-to-back nice finishes on the break. He also made a nice pass to Gabriel on the break for 2.

Jake Hamel also played well for the Pioneers. Hamel is known as one of the state's best spot up shooters, but in this game he did much more. All game long he was hustling after loose balls, making plays, and despite the fact that he was usually the shortest player on the court he was also grabbing a good amount of rebounds including some key offensive boards that kept possessions alive.

For Concord, it was once again the incoming junior duo of Christian Iozza and Kaleb Marquis who did the damage. I have seen Concord play 3 games in this league now, and I'm pretty sure Marquis has dropped 20 or more points in all 3. He is very crafty with the basketball in his hands and knows how to create just enough space in order to get his shot off. Marquis has a deadly pull-up jumper and a quick release. He was being covered by Trinity's Hunter Viscarello (one of the best defenders in the state) most of the game and he still produced. Iozza is very athletic and made some nice drives in this game as well.

Also playing well for Concord were incoming freshmen Brett Hanson and Sam Marquis. Hanson is a quick point guard is fearless and has a nice left handed floater in the lane as part of his arsenal, while Marquis is a tough 6'1" player who can play inside or out.

Merrimack vs. Manchester Memorial
This was a good game, featuring 2 squads expected to be top 10 teams in Division I this winter. Merrimack was playing without Dimitri Floras, who as of today is transferring to Kimball Union Academy. Yet the Tomahawks still led in this game by as many as 13 points, and ended up winning it 62-52.

When the teams were warming up for this game and going through their layup lines, I couldn't help but wonder if I was looking at Memorial getting ready to play or if I was watching a Bishop Elite open gym. The Crusaders had 9 kids suit up and play for them in this game, and virtually all of them are also currently playing their AAU basketball for either the 14U or 16U Bishop Elite team (Memorial assistant and JV coach Sudi Lett is also the director and coach for Bishop Elite). The Bishop Elite 16U team has been very successful this spring, and some of their better players (Majak Wenyin, Zoubel Iradakunda, Tong Akot and Joel Mayola) all play for Memorial. The Bishop's 14U team is also a talented squad, and they also had 4 of their players playing for the Crusaders yesterday (Oumaru Kante, Kabongo Ngalakulondi, Wade Gop and Wenyin Gabriel). These guys all play together in AAU and now they will all be playing for Memorial as well.

As much talent Memorial has, they are still a VERY young team. Merrimack meanwhile played some very good basketball, especially defensively. That's why they were able to pull out the win, even without Floras in the lineup.

Standout players for Merrimack were the Gendron brothers, Tyler and Eric, plus Jared Peabody and Bryan Courtemanche. Tyler Gendron has a lot of upside and really played well in this game by finishing at the rim and also stepping outside and knocking down the three ball. Him and Eric Gendron had a very nicely executed 2-on-1 break in the 1st half. Eric Gendron also went to the rim hard and continues to show a terrific all around skill set and play with a swagger you like to see.

Courtemanche had a very nice 2nd half, dropping 8 points in the span of a minute, including back-to-back three-pointers. He also had some nice finishes at the basket. Peabody also had a very nice game, grabbing boards, playing tough defense and consistently knocking down the mid-range jumper. At one point he hit back-to-back 15 footers, then hustled back on defense to block a shot from behind in transition. It is clear that Peabody and Courtemanche have really been working on their games.

Also playing well for Merrimack was forward Kyle Richardson and guard Brandon Malloch. Floras may be going prep, but Merrimack will still be a very good basketball team.

Meanwhile for Memorial, they had a tough time offensively, starting out the game down 20-8. Merrimack provided some real tough defensive pressure which was tough for the young Crusaders to deal with. At times though, Memorial was able to get out on the break and run and get some easy baskets. They had a couple of runs in this game where they played some good basketball. Late in the 1st half they went on an 11-2 run, which was led by Wenyin, Iradakunda, Akot and Ngalakulondi. Wenyin had some nifty dribble drive moves and finishes and continues to show a good stroke from the outside. Iradakunda is very athletic and also made some nice moves to the rim and hit the outside shot as well. Wenyin showed his versatility by making a nice blocked shot on Eric Gendron early in the 2nd half as well.

Dover vs. Winnacunnet
The 2 seacoast rival schools got together in a game which was a tale of 2 halves. Dover dominated the 1st half, Winnacunnet made a nice run in the 2nd half to get back in the game. And at the end Dover was able to hold on for a 43-37 win.

The Green Wave went on a 17-0 1st half run, to take a 17-2 lead. During that run it was like watching a varsity team play against JV. Dover looked very good and Winnacunnet looked very bad, it's that simple. The Green Wave were really getting after it on defense, forcing the Warriors into turnovers and difficult shots.

Dover was getting some very strong play from their whole squad, but 6'4" incoming junior Mike LeBlanc really played well. LeBlanc showed a smooth shooting stroke from the outside and made a number of tough finishes in traffic going to the rim. He also made a nice put-back off an offensive rebound. Dover had a well balanced attack though, with Phil Boyatsis, Colin Shaughnessy, Mike Wons and Grant Faustino all playing well. More than anything it was the defense that was dominating for the Green Wave. All of their players digging in, pressuring the basketball, coming over from the help-side and grabbing boards. And offensively Dover wasn't just running around, or just going isolation every time. They were running their sets, being patient with them and getting good looks at the basket as a result.

In the 2nd half it was a whole different ball game. Winnacunnet started to play much better basketball. They were getting out on the break, getting to the basket, finishing inside and picking up their defensive intensity. The Warriors continue to be led by the play of their trio of incoming sophomores - Chris Doyle, Sam Knollmeyer and Rich Ruffin. Doyle is a very fun player to watch, he is so poised he definitely does not look like a player who just finished his freshman year. He is a silky smooth guard with a good basketball I.Q., he doesn't force anything and let's the game come to him. Doyle can shoot the basketball and has some nifty dribble-drive moves and good finishing ability. Knollmeyer and Ruffin also made some nice plays in the 2nd half. Knollmeyer is a very underrated passer with good court vision, while Ruffin played much more under control in the 2nd half and showed a smooth mid-range pull-up. Also playing well for Winnacunnet in the 2nd half were Malcom Woodliff-Bulloch (a transfer from Portsmouth HS) and Christian Oweifie. Woodliff-Bulloch played hard and with a good motor, is very fast and had some nice drives, while Oweifie can block shots and use his 6'6" frame to grab boards and score inside.

Winnacunnet was able to get the Dover lead down to just 1, as the game got pretty intense in the last couple minutes. Dover made their free throws late though, and LeBlanc made some key baskets to seal the win. LeBlanc had a very nice game, and continues to play like one of the top 10 incoming juniors in the state.

Manchester Central vs. Raymond
Division III Raymond continues to test themselves against some of the top teams in the state. Give them credit, because even if they lose some of these games by 20+ points it will make them a better basketball team come winter time. On Monday night they went up against a Central team which is once again expected to be a top 10 team in Division I. Raymond hung with them early, but Central pulled away for a 70-36 win.

Central might not have a lot of size, but they were really able to play the game at a VERY fast pace. They ran, they ran some more, and after that they kept running. They forced turnovers with some suffocating pressure defense and turned them into easy baskets.

Leading the way for the Little Green was Gabe LaCount, Junior Brown, Troy Pelletier, Dawson Dickson, Dylan Lafond and Stephen Gomez. Dickson is just now transferring to Central from Trinity, while Gomez comes over from West High. LaCount was able to do nearly whatever he wanted out there with the basketball in his hands, making plays for himself or his teammates all game long. Pelletier had some nice athletic finishes, Brown continues to be one of the state's best defenders. Dickson showed good quickness and made a very nice drive-and-dish play, Lafond pressured the basketball defensively and hustled after loose balls, while Gomez is also very fast and showed an improved outside shot by nailing back-to-back threes.

Raymond continued to hang in there and battle all game. Guards Joe Morin and Jordon Richard once again showed why they will be one of the top back courts in D-III this winter. Both players made some very nice drives and finishes at the rim in this game.

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