Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BST Summer League - 7/6/11 Recap

Tonight it was back to SNHU for more BST Summer Basketball League action. In the league's Central Division it was Concord vs. Central, Newmarket vs. Derryfield and Merrimack vs. West.

The most impressive team this evening was definitely Central, who are definitely playing like a top 5 team in D-I right now. I also liked what I saw from Newmarket, a deep team in D-IV who I expect to be a top 3 team in that division.

Here's the recap of all 3 games.

Concord vs. Manchester Central
This was a close game for most of the way, but Central went on a 10-0 2nd half run and ended up winning it 50-34.

Both teams were playing this game without their best player. Central was missing Gabe LaCount, and Christian Iozza was out of the lineup for Concord. It started off as a sloppy game but got much better after as it went on. For a summer league game, this contest was definitely played at a pretty high level. If LaCount and Iozza were there it really would have been a fun one to watch.

Not only was Central missing LaCount, but starting forward Troy Pelletier missed most of the 2nd half as well. And I have to admit, Central looked very impressive. Head coach Doc Wheeler was coaching his team from the sidelines, and he couldn't help but crack a smile as he watched his squad make their 2nd half run.

The Little Green were able to do it with speed and aggressiveness. They were simply quicker to the basketball than Concord was late in the game, and they had more players who could handle the basketball, rebound and attack the rim.

Junior Brown and Dylan Lafond were all over the place, grabbing offensive rebounds and loose balls. Late in the game, when all of the other players in this game were tired, Brown and Lafond were still going all out. They must have got at least 10 rebounds apiece. Concord had trouble keeping those 2 guys off the boards, especially in the 2nd half.

The whole Central team was flying all over the court, pressuring the basketball, forcing turnovers and attacking the basket. Early in the game Concord was hanging right in the game, and playing some good basketball. But in the 2nd half Central really stepped up their game and made their run.

Pelletier, Stephen Gomez (transfer from West) and Dawson Dickson (transfer from Trinity) also played well for Central. Gomez played very hard, showed exceptional quickness and played tough defense. He also had a very nice crossover dribble to get to the rim and and-1 finish in the 1st half. Pelletier is an athletic 6'1" wing player who attacked the rim and finished well when he got there. Dickson hit a pair of three-pointers during the Little Green's 10-0 run and also made a nice drive-and-dish over to Brown for a bucket.

For Concord, I really liked the way Brett Hanson played in this game. The 5'6" incoming freshman point guard is lightning quick, plays the game VERY hard, can handle the ball well vs. even the most intense defensive pressure and is always looking to push the ball up the floor and make plays. He knows how to set up his teammates for good looks, and he also stepped outside and knocked down a couple of threes in addition to finishing inside. He definitely plays like a kid who already belongs on a varsity floor. It will be fun to watch his game develop over the next few years.

Kaleb Marquis and Sam Marquis also played well for Concord in this game. It wasn't the best game either of them has had this summer by any means. Both of them had a few shots just barely rim out on them, and Central's intense pressure defense certainly had an affect on all of the Crimson players.

Central doesn't have much size. Often times they had Gomez (5'6"), Dickson (5'7") and Lafond (5'8") all on the floor together. But it doesn't matter. There isn't a lot of size anywhere in NH this year, especially in Division I. You don't necessarily need size this year. What the Little Green have though is speed - they're possibly the fastest team in the state. his is a team that will win a lot of games this winter.

Newmarket vs. Derryfield
When most people think about the rivalry games that you will see in the BST Summer League they will probably think about the "City Games", when the Memorial, Central, Trinity and West square off with one another. But make no mistake, over the last couple years Newmarket and Derryfield have developed one of the most intense rivalries in Division IV basketball.

Since Newmarket moved down to D-IV a few years ago, both of these schools have been perennial title contenders. Both times they played each other last season it went down to the wire, with each team winning a game on the other's home court. Newmarket made it to the semi-finals before losing to Lisbon, while Derryfield lost to Lisbon in the championship game.

So, how about this year? Well it's only July, but Newmarket definitely looks like it has the edge. They were missing one of their best players in Christian Filion and still beat Derryfield on Wednesday night, 45-39. The Mules even led by as many as 13 points, 41-28, before the Cougars went on an 11-0 run late in the game.

Filion and 5'11" junior guard Christian Hawkins have been the top play makers so far this summer for Newmarket. So with Filion sitting this game out it was Hawkins who assumed the role of main ball handler and go-to scorer. He had a nice game, but he also got a lot of help from the team's 2 bigs, Josh Eisfeller and Peter Carlson. Both Eisfeller and Carlson scored in double figures for the Mules, and both did a very nice job on the boards as well. many of Newmarket's points in this game came off offensive rebounds, as Derryfield had trouble dealing with the Mules' size. Even players who aren't as tall, like Robert McGloughlin and Kevin Clougherty also did a nice job of rebounding the basketball.

Hawkins also scored in double figures for Newmarket, as he was able to go by his defender off the dribble as well as hit the outside shot. Hawkins is very athletic, a strong defender and is in great shape. He's one of the more underrated players from the Class of 2013 in NH. He dd have a couple of bad turnovers in this game, but he played basically the entire game and was relied upon to handle the basketball and make plays all game long. Normally Filion will also be there to take the pressure off of him.

I still have Moultonbrough as my favorite to win D-IV in 2012, but Newmarket is a deeper team and when they have all their top players their I can definitely see them giving the Panthers a run for their money.

As for Derryfield, they will once again be a competitive team in D-IV. Some of their top returning players are Gus Davis and Tyler Zorn, who is only going to be a sophomore next season. Davis is a 5'10" guard who plays the game very hard. You need to give him the outside shot because if you let him drive he's going to burn you, as Davis is very quick off the dribble and attacks the rim with reckless abandon and has some athletic moves once he gets into the paint. Zorn meanwhile is a 5'11" wing player who is one of the best long range shooters in the NHIAA's Class of 2014. He drilled 4 threes in this game, helping Derryfield make their comeback late in the game.

Newmarket probably would have won this game by even more, but Derryfield had 3 players playing in this game who were seniors this past season which means they won't be on the team this upcoming winter. Alex Zorn, Bryan Rivard and Anuj Vadalia were 3 of the best players the Cougars had on their D-IV runner-up team in 2011. They were all seniors, yet they're all playing in the BST Summer League for Derryfield. I doubt you'll hear any of their opponent's complain though, since summer league records don't matter but getting better does. And you get better by playing against tougher competition.

Merrimack vs. Manchester West
It's been a couple weeks now since news first came out that former Merrimack star guard Dimitri Floras was headed off to prep school in the fall. Obviously this makes Merrimack a weaker team. But the last time I saw the Tomahawks play (2 weeks ago) they didn't have Floras in the lineup then yet they still ran a good Memorial team off the floor in a 15+ point win. In that game Merrimack still looked like a top 5 Division I team, even without Floras. In this game they did not.

Now to be fair, Merrimack did have starting guard Eric Gendron in the lineup when they beat Memorial a couple weeks ago and they didn't have him tonight. However West was missing a key player of their own and they still managed to beat Merrimack pretty good on Wednesday evening. Junior guard Carl Jacques wasn't there for West, so both teams were missing one of their best players. Yet West was still able to beat up on Merrimack 43-29. The Blue Knights led by as many as 18 points in this game too, 39-21.

It was a sloppy game, and one where frankly neither team had the look of a squad ready to contend for a title. Lots of turnovers, lots not much ball movement and lots of players settling for threes.

West had a deeper team and was able to build up a 22-10 lead late in the 1st half after Travis Descoteaux (transfer from Trinity) sliced through the Merrimack defense and made a nice finish at the rim. Then Bryan Courtemanche swished a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 22-13 West lead at halftime.

In the 2nd half Tyler Gendron and Jared Peabody played well for Merrimack to keep them in the game, but they didn't have enough help, and West also continued to play some VERY tough defense. The Blue Knights hustled, fought through screens and pressured the basketball and made it very difficult for Merrimack to score. Descoteaux, Aaron Martin, Breno Pena and Daniel Onoa were just some of the many West players who dug in on defense, got stops and forced turnovers. Ivan Ilic also did a nice job for West by playing defense, grabbing boards and hitting the mid-range jump shot.

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