Monday, June 13, 2011

BST Summer League Tip Off Night - Event Recap

The BST Summer League is the biggest boys high school basketball summer league in New Hampshire. This year the league features 19 teams and 18 of them are NHIAA schools, and many of the top teams and players in the state play in this league. It's a good way to see how the teams are coming together over the summer and who the favorites are going to be come winter time.

On Sunday night at Southern New Hampshire University all 19 teams were in action. There were 10 games played on the day (Raymond played twice) and Endicott College was in the house to take in the action. Here is the event recap.

Game 1: Bishop Guertin vs. Alvirne
Definitely one of the more anticipated games of the day. You have the team that won the Division I state title just 2 months ago (BG) and you have the team that made a Cinderella run to the semi-finals (Alvirne). And although both both squads graduate plenty of talent they both have enough coming back to once again be among the division's top teams.

BG led this game 33-11 at the half. They jumped on Alvirne early, taking a 10-3 lead when both teams had their starters in. Guertin's depth also played a factor as they continued to increase their lead. But in the 2nd half Alvirne cut into the lead a little bit and ended up losing by about 15.

One player who really stood out in this game was Alvirne junior guard Sean Dunn got some valuable playing time off the bench last year, but it looks like he is ready to take on a much bigger role next year as a senior. He really showed a good handle, even against some tough pressure defense. Dunn was also explosive in the open floor and going to the basket. He also showed a nice pull-up and good range on his jumper. Definitely someone who could be a breakout player next season.

For Bishop Guertin standout players were Joe McCarthy, Brad Holler and Logan Kesty. Joining them in the starting lineup were guards Cooper Paul and Nate Chartrand. All 5 players will be seniors in the winter for the Cardinals. McCarthy faced up from 15 feet away on the wing, made a jab step, exploded by his defender with a nice spin move and finished at the rim. Holler made some nice passes inside which lead to baskets. And freshman guard CJ Boykin showed lightning quickness and a good handle in traffic.

BG played typical BG basketball. They played a lot of kids, they ran, they pressed and they played a fast game. Alvirne has some good pieces. In addition to Dunn, they were also led by Jim Tomaswick, Tony Beaulieu and Tyler Livingston. These will both be teams to watch over the course of the summer.

Game 2: Manchester Memorial vs. Raymond
This was one of the most competitive games of the day and it had good intensity. It's hard to believe this was the first summer league game of the year for these teams. Last summer Raymond made headlines on this site when they went toe-to-toe on a weekly basis with some of the top D-I and D-II teams in the state. This summer looks like more of the same, as they went up against a Memorial team that is fast and talented (albeit young) before losing 70-68 in a barn-burner.

Memorial will once again be a good team next year, although since most of their top players will be juniors 2013 could be their year. The Crusaders were led by Majak Wenyin, Tong Akot, Zoubel Iradakunda and Mike Torres. They will also have talented freshmen like Oumaru Kante and Wade Gop. Kante is out right now with a hamstring injury suffered over the weekend at the Rumble in the Bronx AAU tournament. Gop meanwhile played and played well. He might be small, but he is tough, fearless, he can handle the basketball and he can shoot it.

Raymond trailed by double digits but made a nice comeback, playing some real good ball as the game went on. As expected, they were led by guards Joe Morin and Jordon Richard. Both players are returning starters and likely all-state players in D-III next season. Morin and Richard had some strong drives to the basket and finishes, although Memorial's interior defense definitely needs improvement. Richard continues to be a very tough defender, and Morin also got hot at times shooting the basketball from the outside.

Eric Desilets also played well for the Rams. Raymond had a solid starting lineup, with a bunch of kids who are quick, tough and skilled. They didn't have anyone there with any size though, with 6'0" Ben Sytulek being their tallest player.

Game 3: Concord vs. Newmarket
Newmarket is one of the newcomers to the BST Summer League. They are a Division IV team and they're graduating their best player in Adrian Edgerly. All summer long they will be playing against mostly D-I and D-II teams though, so they'll get better.

Concord welcomed the Mules to the league by defeating them 53-36. Concord is a young team, and one that has struggled mightily in recent years. The good news though is that they have a pair of very talented sophomores in 6'2" Christian Iozza and 5'9" Kaleb Marquis. Marquis (pictured above) put on a show in this game. I know Concord was playing 3 divisions down here, but he really did have a nice game scoring the basketball in a variety of ways and playing the game at a fast pace.

Leading the way for Newmarket was sophomore guard Christian Hawkins, who is an athletic, skilled 5'10" guard who went to the rim strong.

Game 4: Groton/Dunstable vs. Keene
I didn't see much of this game. But Keene has struggled in recent years, and loses some good players off last year's team, including big man Taylor Russell (headed to Stonehill College to play football). This is head coach Bill Johnston's first full summer as coach of the team, so it will be interesting to watch how they progress as the summer goes on.

Game 5: Trinity vs. Winnacunnet
Trinity dominated this game most of the way, but Winnacunnet made a late comeback to make it close, as Trinity won 49-39.

The story of this game was not who did play, but rather who didn't play for Trinity. Dawson Dickson, who played varsity this year for Trinity as a freshman, did not play for the Pioneers. Instead, he played in the next game, for Central. That's right, Dickson is transferring to Manchester Central. Also, Travis Descoteaux is another player who was not in the Trinity lineup. Descoteaux is a sophomore guard who played varsity for the Pioneers for each of the last 2 years. He will either be going to West High or a prep school in the fall, but not Trinity.

Then you have Wol Majong, the 6'1" guard who had a breakout season this past winter in leading Trinity to the D-I title game. He emerged as one of the state's best players as the season went on. And he had to be considered an early favorite to be a first team all-state player in 2012. But the word buzzing around the SNHU field house yesterday was that Majong will not be eligible to play high school basketball next season, due to his age and the number of years he has already been in high school. This is a tough break, for Trinity and for Majong, because Majong was actually listed as a junior on the Trinity roster this past season, which would mean he hasn't played his senior season yet. The Pioneers will still be a good team, but their chances of making it back to the title game definitely take a hit with Majong, Dickson and Descoteaux all out of the picture.

So who was playing for Trinity in this game? 6'7" sophomore Mabor Gabriel, 6'7" junior Andrew Lauderdale, along with Hunter Viscarello, Jake Hamel, Carmen Giampetruzzi, Patrick Keefe and Miles Davis. Gabriel had the gym buzzing after he stole the ball from a Winnacunnet player, took it the length of the court and slammed it down with both hands. Hamel, Davis and Giampetruzzi all shot the ball well. And the Pioneers also unveiled their newest player, 6'1" incoming freshman Ian Sistare. Sistare dropped 66 points in a middle school game last winter, and despite the fact that he lives in Peterborough, NH he will be attending Trinity. It's amazing how Trinity can lose all of these guys, graduate Zach Stevens and still have so many quality players.

Meanwhile for Winnacunnet, their 2nd half comeback was led by freshmen guards Chris Doyle and Sam Knollmeyer. They definitely don't play like freshmen, especially Doyle who is a silky smooth guard who can score the basketball inside or out and also does all of the little things well. Knollmeyer had a nice and-1 finish late in the game. Next year will also be the senior season for 6'6" forward Christian Oweifie, who had a big time blocked shot late in this contest after having a quiet game up until that point.

Game 6: Nashua North vs. Raymond
If they can keep all of their top players on the court, out of trouble and all playing together as a team Nashua North is a team that could make a serious title run next March. Ryan Gauthier, Anthony Farmer, Javon Williams, Mike O'Connor, Jake Mellin, Liam Burke, Adam Fay and Parker Jamerson. They'll all be back. And the Titans will be the only team in D-I that will be returning their top 8 players. And all 8 of them will be seniors.

North will also have a new head coach this winter. According to North athletic director Tom Arria, former coach Andy Otocka stepped down shortly after last season ended. Arria went on to tell the NH Notebook that a new coach has been hired, but the name of that coach cannot be released for public consumption until the hire is approved by the school board. Keep checking this site for all the latest news.

As for this game itself, North ended up beating Raymond 57-40. It was Raymond's second game of the day, so this score isn't too surprising, although Raymond was hanging right with North for most of the way.

Gauthier was having a nice game for the Titans, pushing the basketball at every chance, finishing against contact, and also making some nice dishes, like one he made to Farmer for a bucket. 5'6" guard Dezron Wilson also played well for North, showing good court awareness and ball handling. North is a fast team that can put up points in a hurry. They got a number of their points in transition off turnovers that they forced by playing tough half court defense. Although it was Raymond's second game of the day, they are still a good team and North not only beat them going away, but did so without O'Connor, Mellin, Burke, Fay or Jamerson in the lineup.

Game 7: Manchester Central vs. Merrimack
Dawson Dickson is on Central now, and made his Little Green debut in this game. The big question with Central though is how good will they be without John Wickey leading the way. Wickey was not only their best player for the past 2 years but was one of the state's best players for the past 2 years. Gabe LaCount will now be looked upon to have a big senior year for Central and be the new go-to guy. LaCount had a solid game in this one, attacking the basket and getting by his defender at will.

Other key returning players for the Little Green who were playing were Junior Brown and Troy Pelletier, who both played valuable roles on the Central team that made it to the D-I semi-finals in March.

Another player who is transferring to Central is 5'6" guard Stephen Gomez, who played his first 2 years for the West High JV team. Like Dickson, Gomez was also playing his first game for Central in this one.

Central played a fast game, they played hard, and Merrimack was playing without their 2 best players. As a result Central won it easily, 68-48.

Merrimack was playing without Dimitri Floras and Tyler Gendron, who was out with an illness. Guard Bryan Courtemanche and Tyler Peabody both played well for the Tomahawks.

Game 8: Prospect Mountain vs. Derryfield School
It was Division III Prospect Mountain vs. Division IV Derryfield. I expect both of them to be top 8 teams in their respective divisions next season.

This was a good game, with both teams really getting after it before Prospect Mountain won it. Prospect Mountain returns a good core of players off last year's team, including guards Zack Drouin and Pat Cassidy. Both players are seniors and could be all-state players come winter time and don't be surprised if Drouin makes first team.

Derryfield meanwhile was led by their guards (neither team had much size). In particular Gus Davis and Anuj Vadalia played well for the Cougars.

Game 9: Dover vs. Manchester West
Both teams came out pretty rusty early on, but the level of play got better as the game went on. Dover really played some good ball in the 2nd half, showing some good depth. The Green Wave won it 48-39, although they led by a lot more than that but West made a late rally.

Some people might think that Dover would be down next year after the number of quality players they have graduated in the last 2 years, and the fact that next year they will be VERY thin on seniors. But despite the fact that their top players will pretty much all be juniors they looked pretty good in this game. Leading the way for Dover on this night were current sophomores Mike LeBlanc, Grant Faustino, Colin Shaughnessy and Phil Boyatsis. Fellow sophomore Mike Wons is also expected to be a key player for Dover, but sat this game out. Watch out for this team in 2013 when they're all seniors. Faustino drilled a couple threes and also made some plays inside. Shaughnessy made a terrific pass inside to LeBlanc for a basket as well.

Surprisingly, the Green Wave played some of their best basketball in this game when the bench was in there. Coach Romps was in the gym and he had to like what he saw from his young bench players. He has a group of about 7 or 8 youngsters, they might not be the biggest, fastest players or be the best shooters, etc. But they had some young guys who flat out got after it, playing hard, pushing the basketball, crashing the boards, making the extra pass and playing good team ball. Look for this to be a Dover team that will continue to get better as the summer goes on. They could really be a scary team in the 2012-2013 season if they all stay together over there and keep working.

As for West, they are not nearly as deep of a team, and that really was the difference in this game. 6'3" junior Aaron Martin had a slow start, but really played well as the game went on. He played tough defense and made some nice shots off the dribble, rising up high over the defender on his shot. Also playing well for West was 5'10" sophomore guard Carl Jacques, who continues to get better and show good explosiveness. He really plays hard and with a motor that never stops. If Descoteaux does end up going to West, he would form a formidable trio along with Martin and Jacques.

Game 10: Milford vs. Windham
Last winter when these teams squared off in Division II action Milford won going away. Much different story now, though. Why's that? Pretty simple. Milford graduates their 5 best players (Mike Mitchell, Mike O'Loughlin, Jamie Holder, Kyle Nelson, Scott McCallum) while Windham has their entire team coming back.

The result was a 54-49 overtime win for Windham. After a tough season in their first year as a varsity program, this was a nice way for the summer to start for Windham. This game was the last one of the day to end, but it was definitely one of the day's best games and it had a thrilling finish.

Jovi Philbrick came from the weak side to make a nice block for Milford. Later, Richie Moore made a nice drive-and-dish play, setting Philbrick up for a shot inside. Windham led most of the way, but Milford was making a run late.

Then the last couple minutes of regulation went back and forth. One player who really started to assert himself and made some big time plays down the stretch was Windham guard Mike Diorio. He's 5'9" and will be a senior in the winter. He made tremendous drive and strong and-1 finish, then followed that up with a nice catch-and-release three-pointer to put Windham up 45-42 with 38.2 seconds left in the 2nd half. He's a tough kid and a good play maker.

Moore came right back for Milford and hit a three-pointer of his own, on a catch-and-release from the left wing. We were all tied up at 45-45 with 16.4 seconds left. At that time there was a regular season atmosphere in the gym, it definitely did not feel like a summer league game.

Then Moore made another big play for the Spartans, stealing the basketball off the inbounds and then laying it in on the other end. Windham got the ball back with under 10 seconds remaining when forward Conor Redmond got the ball inside, turned and banked it in off the glass and we were all tied up at 47-47. Overtime.

In overtime sophomore guard Danny Cannone (Matt Cannone's little brother) hit a big three from the left wing for Windham. The Jaguars locked down on defense, and they won it 54-49.

Also playing well was Jarad Lakin for Milford and Joe Lorenz for Windham.

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