Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BST Summer League Tipoff Games - Event Recap

The BST Summer League tipped off another season this past Sunday at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. With 20 teams in action it is the biggest summer league in NH high school basketball. And while often times the teams you see during the summer isn’t exactly the lineups they will be using when the regular season rolls around the summer is when teams gel together and it’s nice to get a sneak peak at the upcoming season.

Keep reading for news and notes from Sunday's action. Also check out NH Sports Page for the league's scores and standings.

Memorial Falls to Lawrence in Game of the Day
You just knew this was going to be a good one. It may have been just summer league, this game was played at a fast pace and at a high level. It had the intensity of a regular season game and it went down to the wire. Lawrence grabbed an offensive rebound and banked in a shot at the buzzer, coming away with a 52-50 win.

Both teams looked to push the basketball up the floor and fast break at every opportunity. Point guard Oumaru Kante was the catalyst for the Crusaders, as he got into the lane off the dribble and created offense for himself or teammate. Kante also pressured the basketball defensively, forcing turnovers. Fellow freshman Kabongo Ngalakulondi also attacked the rim with a wide array of dribble drive moves and which enabled him to get quality looks inside.

Junior forward Tong Akot converted a pair of clutch baskets in the paint late in the game. The second shot tied the game up 50-50 with just under 10 seconds left. Also playing well for Memorial was Zoubel Iradakunda, Tyler Kelly, Joel Mayola and Wade Gop. Memorial will clearly be one of the favorites in D-I next season.

Central Also Impresses in Win
One of the other early favorites in Division I next season is Manchester Central, and on Sunday the Little Green cruised to a 56-29 win over a rebuilding Nashua North team. Player of the Year candidate Troy Pelletier got in a nice rhythm offensively, pulling up off the dribble and hitting jumpers, draining threes off the catch as well as slashing to the rim.

Defensively Central did a nice job of pressuring the basketball out on the perimeter and not allowing North to get into any offensive sets. They also clogged up the middle which made it difficult for them to create offense once they were able to get inside the three-point arc.

Dawson Dickson and Brett Hansen both made some great passes in transition and in the half court which led to baskets, as Central shared the ball well all game. Also playing well for the Little Green were Mike Plentzas and Isaiah Joseph.

By the way, the other early favorite in D-I in addition to Memorial and Central is Spaulding. The Red Raiders won't be sneaking up on anyone this year.

Shorthanded Bedford Nearly Upsets Merrimack
By now most folks around the state know about Dimitri Floras’ transfer from Merrimack to Vermont Academy. With that transfer this officially becomes Eric Gendron’s team. Gendron will now be looked upon to be the go-to-guy offensively and to be the team’s leader on the floor.

As good as Gendron is, you have to really wonder about how good this Merrimack team will be. Not only do they lose Floras, but they also graduate Tyler Gendron, Jared Peabody, Jeff Giannelli, Kyle Richardson, Dylan O’Brien and Jackson King, all of whom were either starters or key reserves for the Tomahawks 2012 state championship team. So they will only be returning 1 of their top 8 players from last year, so a return trip to UNH may be a reach, but they will still be a tough team.

Eric Gendron is a potential first team all-state player, and in Sunday’s game vs. Bedford he played very well. Gendron looked for his shot but also set up his teammates and also forced turnovers defensively. Inside the Tomahawks got strong play from the duo of 6-foot-3 Brad Jarry and 6-foot-4 Connor Whelan. Jarry is a blue collar player who just plays the game hard and plays it the right way.

Gendron got help in the back court from Brandon Malloch and Austin Franzen. Malloch returns to the team after sitting last year out, while Franzen transfers to Merrimack after spending his freshman year at Bishop Guertin where he played JV and swung up on the varsity. Both players can shoot the rock and give the team other weapons to be concerned about so they can’t focus too much on Gendron.

In this game Merrimack went on a late run to pull out a 57-48 win. The game was much closer than the final score would indicate though, as it was only a one possession game with 1:00 left to play. Considering Bedford was playing without two of their best returning players the Bulldogs should be pretty happy with their performance.

Cameron Meservey (look for him to be one of the state’s breakout players for the 2012-2013 season) and James Caparell were out of the lineup for Bedford, who is moving up from Division II to Division I. They made the D-II title game last season. But they are moving up a division and they graduate Trevor Fahmy and Trevor Glassman, plus 6-foot-10 sophomore Collin McManus is transferring to Northfield Mount Hermon.

So again, considering all of that Bedford has to be happy with the way they played on Sunday. I would definitely say that if Meservey and Caparell were there they would have beaten Merrimack. The Bulldogs back court of Taylor Grande and Sean Purcell played tough, smart, scrappy basketball. They distributed the ball, played hard every minute and Grande was not afraid to step in and take charges on defense.

Jake Capistran showed a good inside-outside game for Bedford, as he battled on the boards and scored inside but also stepped outside and knocked down the three ball. Sam Thomas and Ryan Brown also played well for Bedford. A lot of them play for the same AAU team (NH Titans) which also helps with team chemistry.

Watch Out for Brady in D-II
Last season everyone was talking about Bishop Brady’s star freshman guard Jourdain Bell, and how he really helped to raise the team’s level of play (along with the coaching of Mark Yeaton). Well now opposing teams in D-II also have to worry about another Bell, as Jourdain’s younger brother Joe Bell is joining him at Brady this year as a freshman.

Led by the Bell brothers and 6-foot-3 junior Stephen Desmarais, the Giants defeated Derryfield 51-38. Brady was at their best when they were pushing the tempo and playing fast break basketball, which is the style that best suits the Bell brothers, especially Jourdain who really excelled at both leading and finishing in transition in this game. Tyler Zorn played well for Derryfield, who should once again be a strong team in Division IV.

Other Notes
Alvirne defeated Souhegan 44-23. Both teams were led by their star players, Tyler Livingston for Alvirne and Brandon Len for Souhegan. Alvirne was a deeper team though and was able to wear down the Sabers as the game went on. Souhegan was playing without starters Jake Kennedy and Tyler Ford. When they have everyone playing together the Sabers will a have a shot at making it back to UNH for the second time in the last three years. Alvirne meanwhile has another solid team coming back, lots of blue collar kids who play team basketball. They will once again battle for a top 8 seed in D-I.

In games earlier in the day, Londonderry beat Manchester West and Windham defeated Milford. Windham was led by the hot shooting of Andrew Lowman. Londonderry is definitely a team on the rise. They return 10 players off last year’s team, including scoring weapons like Andre Simmond and Andrew Coveney.

Winnacunnet is another team that will surprise people next season. Things could get very interesting, as Memorial, Winnacunnet, Londonderry and Dover were the 12-15 seeds last season but could all easily be top 10 teams in 2012-2013.

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