By: Tuesday and Friday
Going into this West vs. Central game a lot of words came to mind: athleticism, speed, quickness, energy and tenacity. All of these words were on glorious display in the 1st period as Central took a 20-18 lead.
The pace to this game was at a high level. Both teams threw the kitchen sink at each other. All 5 starters scored for Central as their balanced scoring attack was again on display. Newly anointed Blue Knight hero, 6'3" junior Jocarl Bureau, hit a couple of 3's in the 1st period, while Aaron Martin had 7 points to lead the way for West.
Both teams continued the torrid physical pace in the 2nd period with West outscoring Central 17-15 to tie the game at 35-35 at halftime. Junior Travis Descoteaux came up big for the Blue Knights scoring 9 points in the quarter on a combination of slashing drives and also hitting a three.
Both teams played at a high level for the 1st half. Both teams negated each other with their speed and quickness. The bursts of energy for one team that lead to hoops seemed to drain each team on the defensive end when it was time for a stop.
Martin had a great 3rd period with 8 points. The highlight of this period was when there was 6 minutes left and Martin had an athletic finish at the offensive end and then 10 seconds later blocked Central's Christian Ortega on a lay up attempt to prevent Central from scoring. It almost seemed at this point the West athleticism and team speed took over. West is a very entertaining basketball team to watch. Martin, Bureau, Carl Jacques, Breno Pena and Descoteaux form a very athletic and fast unit when they get it going. Watching this team in the QCIBT makes you wonder how they beat Winnacunnet by only 5 and how they lost to Merrimack by so much in the regular season. Ortega kept Central close in the 3rd with 6 points as West took a 50-45 lead into the 4th period.
At this point I would like to give an editorial comment. There seems to be a lost art of going for a last second shot in high school basketball in NH. Ensuring you take the last shot at the end of a period or half guarantees 2 things: YOU GET TO ATTEMPT TO SCORE LAST AND YOUR OPPONENT DOESN'T. West had a 50-43 lead with about 20 seconds left in the 3rd period. West's Pena attempted a 3 pointer with 7 seconds left. That's just too much time to take an end of the period shot. Central is too fast. Pena missed and Central quickly came down and Ortega put in a 3 foot buzzer beater to make it 50-45 Central going into the 4th period. West worked hard to secure a 7 point lead on Central with 20 seconds to go in the 3rd period. They should have had a 7 point lead lead going into the 4th. I have seen other teams and players put up 'ill advised' shot attempts with 15, 10 or just a little less seconds to go and leave the opponent with a chance to score a momentum building basket with 1 to 3 seconds to go in a period. Where has the art of the last second shot gone? Editorial rant is now over.
The teams traded baskets to start the 4th period. Pena then hit a three with 5:45 left to give West its biggest lead of the game to that point at 55-47. The teams traded baskets over the next 3 minutes. Jacques scored on a put back with 2:04 left to give West it's biggest lead of the game 61-52.
After this it was a matter of West hitting free throws and securing the ball against the Central pressure. Speaking of foul shots it has been a Blue Knight bugaboo in the QCIBT. West could've put Central away earlier in the game if they had hit some free throws. West was 10/19 from the charity stripe in this game.
Martin had 26 points to lead all scorers. He scores on slashes to the rack, medium range jumpers and long range shots. He had his full offensive arsenal going for him tonight. Jacques and Bureau each had 11 to help the West attack. Ortega had a solid game in defeat with 17 points. Gabe LaCount had 14 and Troy Pelletier had 11 to help the Little Green cause.
Merrimack last won a QCIBT Championship in 2002 when Corey Hassan helped lead them to the title. The last time West won a QCIBT Championship was 1993. Merrimack and West will meet for the 2011 QCIBT Championship at 7:30 pm on Wednesday night.