On Wednesday night two teams (Central and Prospect Mt.) punched their ticket to the BST Summer League's 'Tournament of Champions' by virtue of being the champion and runner-up from the league's Central Division. And tonight at Rivier College it was the Southern Division which took center stage, with Bishop Guertin, Milford, Nashua North and Alvirne battling it out for the division's trophy.
The highlight of the evening was the semi-final game between North and Alvirne, with North winning it 63-61 in overtime. It had the intensity of a regular season contest, and Alvirne guard Tony Beaulieu sent the crowd into a frenzy with his thunderous one-handed slam late in regulation.
However, it was Bishop Guertin who won the title. They beat Milford 53-35 in the semi-finals, then crushed North 61-42 in the championship game.
Here's the recap of all the action, plus video highlights of the title game.
Semi-final 1: Bishop Guertin vs. Milford
This game was really never in doubt. BG jumped out to a 23-11 lead early on, then led 31-11 at halftime after a nice dribble drive move and and-1 finish by CJ Boykin. Milford was missing 3 starters in Jarad Asselin, Richie Moore and Logan Barlow while BG had all their starters there and all their key players except for reserve big man Jeff Lunn.
Milford kept playing hard and competing, as Jovi Philbrick hit a three and then Ben Smith made a strong finish inside. Sophomore Ross Briggs also played well for the Spartans, and Kevin Poulter played tough defense.
However BG was just too fast, too skilled and too deep for Milford to handle, and Guertin won this game going away. Logan Kesty hit back-to-back threes, giving the Cardinals their largest lead of the game, 52-29 with 3:40 left to play. They cruised from there, and won it 53-35.
Semi-final 2: Alvirne vs. Nashua North
This was definitely the game of the night. It drew a bigger crowd than the championship game and it was a lot more competitive than the championship game as well. Alvirne showed that they can compete with the big boys, taking a talented North team to overtime before falling 63-61.
North's Aaron Cordova and Alvirne's Tony Beaulieu both hit threes right off the bat, then North went on a 12-2 run to take a 15-5 lead. Ryan Gauthier ignited the Titans run by making a nice steal on Alvirne guard Sean Dunn and converting the basket on the other end, then he found Anthony Farmer for a bucket on the 2-on-1 break. North was showing some good team speed and ball movement. Farmer would then make another athletic finish inside.
Alvirne then got back in the game. Beaulieu made a strong drive along the baseline and finish at the rim, then junior forward Tyler Livingston made back-to-back nice hoops off the dribble. Alec Yoksh then hit a three-pointer and then a nice shot inside. The Broncos now trailed by just 5, 21-16 and the intensity on the court was really picking up.
Javon Williams then hit a three for North, ending a long possession for the Titans where Alvirne was playing some very tough defense. Livingston came right back and drilled back-to-back threes of his own and the North lead was now just 26-24. Soon after that Cordova hit another three to push the North lead back up to 33-24.
North would then get a technical foul for having 6 players on the court, then Livingston hit his third three-pointer of the game. It was a step-back three, and it cut the Titan's lead to 37-32 at halftime.
In the 2nd half the action really heated up. Williams made a nice take coming from the wing - he saw an open seam in the Alvirne defense and he exploded through it on the way to the hoop for 2. Gauthier then made a nice move on the secondary break, slicing through 3 defenders for a score at the rim.
Alvirne just kept battling, though. Beaulieu found Dunn on the 2-on-1 break for a nice basket, then Beaulieu hit a three-pointer off the dribble to give the Broncos a 45-44 lead with 13:30 left in the 2nd half.
North answered right back, and after a three by Dezron Wilson they led 50-46. Gauthier then made a nice pass inside to Justin Carter for a 52-48 Titan's advantage. And after having a big 1st half, Livingston was slowed down in the 2nd thanks to some very good defense by Farmer.
Then came the thrilling finish. 6'6" big man Jim Tomaswick made a big time play by catching the ball at the top of the key, making a strong drive right, getting to the rim with just 1 dribble, scoring the basket plus the foul. Then came the play of the game, as Beaulieu picked up a loose ball and then slammed it down with one hand for a dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Gauthier came right back seconds later for North with a nifty drive and finish inside, and then just seconds after that Britton Doyle answered back with an inside bucket of his own. Gauthier then made a strong drive, got himself to the free throw line where he made both shots and we were all tied up at 57-57 with 25 seconds left. Beaulieu's shot was no good, so North got the ball back with 7 seconds left with a chance to win it. As Gauthier tried to make a spin move, he had the ball stolen away from him by Beaulieu. The ball came loose and was picked up by Doyle, who then had the ball stolen away from him by Williams as both teams were fighting and clawing on every play. The buzzer sounded, and we were headed to overtime, all tied up at 57-57.
In the overtime period Farmer came up big for North, hitting a three-pointer from the corner on the team's first possession. He then stepped to the line for a 1-and-1 with under a minute left in the extra session and knocked down both shots. The Titans played tough defense in OT, and held on for the 63-61 win.
Championship Game: Bishop Guertin vs. Nashua North
Most folks in the gym were probably expecting a more competitive game, I know I was. But BG was the more disciplined team, they play had better ball movement
and patience on offense, which enabled them to get high percentage shots. They also got out on the break and got some easy baskets. North meanwhile was not patient at all, they were rushing their shots, not moving the ball around, settling for the outside shot and going 1-on-1 way too much. As a result Guertin ran away with it, winning the championship by a final score of 61-42 behind a game-high 20 points by senior wing Logan Kesty.
The BG starting 5 of Kesty, Brad Holler, Joe McCarthy, Cooper Paul and Nate Chartrand was hitting on all cylinders. They played unselfishly and really went on a run in the 2nd half. Late in the 1st half North was able to close the BG lead to 27-22. But then the Guertin run began, and they ended up leading by as many as 53-33.
Kesty was hitting threes and making athletic finishes inside left and right, Holler was playing lock down defense, frustrating Gauthier and Williams and making plays on offense. Paul is a very quick player who was playing well on both ends of the floor, and Chartrand played some of his best ball of the summer. Off the bench the Cardinals got solid contributions from Steven Toscano, CJ Boykin and Jordan Corbin. Toscano made a nice drive-and-dish to Corbin for a bucket late in the 1st half, Boykin showed a good handle and blazing speed, and Corbin was very good on the boards.
North played well in spurts during this game, but they just weren't consistent enough to hang in there with BG. Wilson made some nice drives and dishes, Carter battled on the boards and finished well around the rim. Gauthier had some nice pull-up jumpers and Williams showed flashes of being a great player. But too often they were playing like 5 individuals instead of 1 team. The shot selection needs to improve for this team, and so does the rebounding.
BG meanwhile is definitely playing good ball right now, winning their 2 games tonight by a combined 37 points.
On Friday August 5th the Tournament of Champions at SNHU will be:
5:00 pm BG vs. Prospect Mtn
6:00 pm North vs Central
7:00 pm Contests
8:00 pm Championship