The first annual Bobcat Holiday Invitational is going on this week at Oyster River High School, with 8 boys and 8 girls teams competing for the title. the NH Notebook was in the house on Tuesday night for first round action on the boys side.
In both of the boys games played tonight it was Division I vs. Division II, with the D-I schools winning both contests. Spaulding used a VERY deep rotation to wear down St. Thomas, winning it 60-44. And in a game played between 2 teams missing injured starters Winnacunnet held on for a 56-52 win over Oyster River.
Keep reading for recaps of both games.
Game 1: Spaulding 60 St. Thomas 44
Spaulding was the deeper basketball team, and that was the difference in their win over St. Thomas. They went with an 11 player rotation while STA went with their starting 5 for the vast majority of the game. Because of their depth, the Red raiders were able to wear down the Saints with their full court press and make it difficult for STA to come back from a 36-23 halftime deficit.
During their 2nd quarter run the Spaulding guards (particularly Luke Roberts, PJ Juneau, Connor Noe and Michael Bellio) really did a nice job of pressuring the basketball, making it difficult for STA to cross half court, let alone get into their half court offense.
In the 1st quarter junior guard Seth Fogg came off the bench and had 10 points and 1 steal in the span of just 1 minutes which gave Spaulding some momentum. Still, they only led 17-16 after 1 stanza as the sharp shooting duo of Andrew Kahr (22 points) and Jon Nartiff (9 points) kept the Saints in the game.
Roberts really played well in the 3rd quarter for Coach Cronin's team. St. Thomas was playing hard, and was trying their best to make a comeback, but Roberts and his Red Raider teammates wouldn't let it happen. Roberts finished with a team-high 12 points, including 8 points coming in the last 2 minutes of the 3rd quarter. Spaulding guard Alex Gray then made a great play, hustling back on defense to block a layup attempt by Kahr in transition with 2 seconds left in the quarter.
Juneau and Dominic Paradis both chipped in with 9 points, as Spaulding advanced to the tournament's semi-final round.
Game 2: Winnacunnet 56 Oyster River 52
These are 2 young teams, but they both played very hard and competed for all 32 minutes of this one. Winnacunnet just has more talent and they played some tough defense all game long, resulting in the 56-52 win.
Winnacunnet went on a run late in the 3rd and early in the 4th quarter to push their lead to 51-36. They did it with a lineup of Rich Ruffin, Sam Knollmeyer, Ben Gareau, Quinn Parker and Matt Guerin (Parker is the only senior in that group). The Warriors were getting steals on defense and moving the ball well on offense to create good shot opportunities.
You have to give Oyster River credit though for the valiant effort they made down the stretch to come back in this game. They were down 51-36 in the 4th quarter. But from there the Bobcats went on a 16-4 run, cutting the Winnacunnet lead to 55-52 with 15 seconds left to play.
Leading the charge for the injured and inexperienced Bobcats was senior guard Nick DiVeglia. He is a kid who plays with a lot of heart, and really made some big plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch. DiVeglia finished with a team-high 12 points, and also had 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
One player who plays with a lot of heart for the Warriors is 5'7" junior guard Ryan Gigliotti. Gigliotti is a very quick player who always gives 100%, speeding around the court like a pin ball machine. He plays with reckless abandon, is a tough defender and unfortunately he injured his nose pretty good late in the 3rd quarter. Play was stopped for a few minutes while he was attended to and the floor was cleaned up.
Gigliotti did not return to action. This is a Winnacunnet team that is already playing without possibly their best player for the entire season. Sophomore guard Chris Doyle tore his ACL in October and is out for the year. Doyle is a hard worker and has a lot of potential as a player so you hate to see that. Then right before the season started Coach McKenna lost another player who he had penciled in as a key contributor, as junior wing player Malcolm Woodliff-Bulloch moved to Massachusetts right before the start of the season. Plus they only have 2 seniors on the roster. Yet even with all of that this is a solid Winnacunnet team and they are just a few points away from being 2-0 right now.
In addition to DiVeglia, also playing well in the loss for Oyster River were 6'4" senior forward Liam Grennier and 5'8" junior guard Zach Jones. Jones hit 3 three-pointers in the 2nd quarter. The Bobcats were playing without junior guard Anthony Shea, who has an injured thumb.
Knollmeyer had a game-high 17 points for Winnacunnet. Watch out for this team over the next couple years, especially in 2013-2014 when Doyle, Knollmeyer and Ruffin are all seniors.