Saturday, August 4, 2012

BST Final Four Recap

The semi-finals and championship game for the BST Summer League were held on Friday night at Southern New Hampshire University, with Manchester Central winning the league's championship for the second consecutive season.

It is scary how much the Central starting 5 (Troy Pelletier, Isaiah Joseph, Dawson Dickson, Mike Plentzas and Brett Hanson) is hitting on all cylinders, especially considering it is only the summer time. They cruised past Bedford 61-43 in the semi-finals, and in the championship game they beat Manchester West 63-49.

The other big event of the night was the Sam Carey NH Alumni Classic, which was played prior to the BST championship in front of a good sized crowd. This was an all-star game featuring many of the top local high school and college players who were associated with the late Sam Carey to raise money for his family.

It was a great night for NH basketball. Here's a recap of all four games.

1st Semi-final: Manchester Central 61 Bedford 43
Both teams had all their key players for this one, and throughout the 1st half Bedford was hanging tough and doing okay against the intense pressure defense Central was throwing at them. But as the game went on that defensive pressure started to get to Bedford.

Central was only up 27-21 at halftime, but they started the 2nd half with a 10-2 run to go up 37-23, which really gave them control of the game. Later in the 2nd half they went on a 10-1 run, which put them up 59-39 with 1:03 left in the game. Those two runs were the difference.

The play that summarized the 2nd half of this game was when Central grabbed a defensive rebound and ran a fast break to perfection. Hanson passed the ball ahead to Pelletier, who then zipped a pass over to Joseph who then finished the layup before Bedford could get back on defense. That fast break happened in the blink of an eye.

Dickson got things started for Central offensively in the 1st half with a couple of 3-pointers (one off the catch and one off the dribble) followed by a strong drive to the rim and finish on the break. Plentzas was hustling after offensive rebounds and loose balls and hit a smooth pull-up jumper on the baseline late in the 1st half. Joseph showed tremendous leaping ability by getting up high for rebounds and points inside.

Overall it was a good summer for Bedford. When you consider they had their best returning player (Collin McManus) leave for prep school and plus their head coach resigned at the beginning of the summer they battled Division I teams all summer and more than held their own. In this game Cameron Meservey and Jake Capistran stood out for the Bulldogs, with Meservey showing a good shooting stroke and the ability to attack the rim while Capistran battled inside for boards and also stepped outside and hit the 3 ball.

2nd Semi-final: Manchester West 61 Souhegan 41
West had a very slow start to this game, going down 10-1 to a more disciplined, fundamentally sound Souhegan team. But the Sabers were playing without two of their better players in Tyler Ford and Zach Simmonds. West meanwhile had all their guys, so they were a deeper team and over the course of the game that was the difference because they all just keyed on Brandon Len defensively. Len got some points here and there and so did Kennedy but they didn't get enough help. West just had more weapons.

One of those weapons was Nolan Flynn, a 6-foot-1 guard who drilled three consecutive 3-pointers late in the 1st half, all from the same exact spot on the floor on the left wing. Just like that Souhegan went from being up 26-22 to being down 31-26.

Concord transfer Zack Jones played some very tough defense on Len, as did Central transfer Alfred Neyonee. Meanwhile the Bureau brothers Jocarl and Khalil both played well for West as they grabbed boards and pushed the tempo. And Adrien Stillwell (another transfer from Central) crashed the boards and finished well inside on the break and in the half court.

Souhegan was only down 34-30 at halftime, but West got out on the break in the 2nd half and made a run.

Championship Game: Manchester Central 63 Manchester West 49
This was a hard fought game and a well deserved win for Central. Again, that starting 5 for the Little Green looked awfully good out there. They played pretty much the whole game and still didn't get tired, even playing on the college court. Pelletier, Joseph, Dickson, Plentzas and Hanson have great chemistry on the court together, it is a fun team to watch.

West was right in this game for most of the way, though. After a 3-pointer by Jocarl Bureau they cut the Central lead to 37-35 with 13:00 left in the 2nd half. But then Joseph converted a put-back and Dickson drilled a three of his own to push the lead back up to 42-35. Central continued to pull away, as Joseph grabbed another rebound and converted an and-1 finish, followed by a pull-up 3-pointer by Pelletier.

West was still hanging around, but then Bureau committed an intentional foul on Hanson, who hit both free throws, putting Central up 54-44 with 1:50 left to play. On the other end Hanson stepped in and drew a charge on Bureau which sealed the win for Central.

Zack Jones made some really nice drives and finishes in the 1st half, but then got in some foul trouble and cooled off in the 2nd half.

Joseph and Stillwell battled each other inside all game. Joseph was very active on the boards and really attacked the rim, going right at Stillwell who is a little bigger than him.

Flynn was fairly quiet in this game, as Hanson really played some tough defense on him.

Pelletier really had his pull-up jumper working in this game, as he was taking what his defender gave him and hit shots from both elbows and all over the floor.

If both teams continue to get better and keep all their guys eligible to play they might be meeting again in UNH come March.

Sam Carey NH Alumni Classic
This is a fundraiser event for Sam Carey's son Brayden. Carey is a former standout basketball player at Manchester Central High and then at SNHU who was tragically killed in a car accident last year.

Scott Hazelton and Chris Burns were the game's top scorers, as Hazelton dropped a game-high 34 points to lead the Black team and Burns had a team-high 26 for the White team. It was a fun game to watch with a lot of great talent and was for a good cause.

These were the game's rosters:
Team: White/Green
Coach: Doc Wheeler
David Cooper(captain)
PJ Young(captain)
Luke Bonner
Chris Lutz
Joey Fremeau
Will Bayliss
Chris Burns
Matt Lemieux

Team: Black/Gold
Coach: Stan Spirou
Chris Brickley
Austin Denton
Mark Yeaton
Steve Deluca
Tim Lee
Troy Bowen
Scott Hazelton
Miguel Gonzales

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