It was a barn burner at Central High in Manchester on Friday night - opening night of the 2011-2012 Division I boys basketball season. In a rematch of last year's D-I semi-final match up, the BG Cardinals (the defending champs) went on the road and beat a short-handed Central Little Green team, 79-69 in front of a packed gym.
Bishop Guertin senior forward Joe McCarthy (who's just as good if not better at baseball) had a HUGE game, with 31 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way for Guertin. Logan Kesty had 17 points and Cooper Paul chipped in with 11.
"Joe's a good ball player" said Bishop Guertin head coach Jim Migneault. "He's starting to mature now. We've got a lot of kids who can score the basketball - I expect to put 70 points up every night."
The game was close throughout, but both teams made their runs. Central had a 10 point lead in the 1st half, but BG battled to get back in it. Then the Cardinals took a 10 point lead in the 2nd half, and it was Central who battled back to get within 2. But at the end BG had more depth so they were able to make more plays down the stretch.
"We had some defensive breakdowns" said Manchester Central head coach Doc Wheeler. "There was a lack of consistency on defense. We weren't getting back and we weren't blocking out. They showed us some weaknesses we need to fix."
Central was playing without 3 players who could potentially be vital cogs on their team this season, as junior guard Stephen Gomez, junior forward Isaiah Joseph and sophomore forward Adrien Stillwell were all out for this game.
"They violated team rules" said Coach Wheeler. "They might be back next week though."
Leading the way offensively for Central was junior forward Christian Ortega, who was a force inside. Gabe LaCount and Troy Pelletier also stood out for the Little Green.
"Ortega played pretty well offensively in the post" said Wheeler. "But then unfortunately we went away from what was working and started to over-dribble, which got us in trouble."
For BG, in addition to McCarthy, Kesty and Paul, the also got strong play from Brad Holler and Nate Chartrand, and off the bench from forward Jeff Lunn, CJ Boykin and Steve Toscano.
"I thought our kids played well" said Coach Migneault. "They made their run when we stopped passing. They played really well though."