By: Ross Laorenza
After heavy snow forced all of us inside for a day, the Chick-fil-A Holiday Basketball Tournament was underway yesterday, from Nashua South. With a condensed two day schedule now at hand, four big games were played on the hardwood, yesterday.
Souhegan, Thornton Academy, Nashua South and Hollis-Brookline advanced to the Semi Finals. Nashua South and Souhegan play today at noon, shortly followed by Thornton Academy and Hollis-Brookline at 1:30 pm.
GAME 1: Alvirne vs Souhegan
The first match up of the day featured the Broncos from Alvirne High School and the Sabers from Souhegan. As the dj played “Jump,” the game got underway. Broncos’ players wore their classic white jersey fringed in crimson. The Sabers went with black and gold.
Souhegan clung to a slim lead after the first half 27-23, but started to pull away as the second half began. Senior Brandon Len (#11) scored 28 points in the contest, and with the help Jake Kennedy’s monstrous defense the Sabers were able to expand the lead to 10 points by the final buzzer. Final Score. Sabers 67, Broncos 57.
GAME 2: Thorton Academy vs. Campbell
The Golden Trojans score were down 32-25 at the half to the Campbell Cougars, but fought hard in the second to win 51-40. The biggest moment swing was just out of half time. Jeff Gelians, senior guard, made an incredible defensive play on the ball at 5:44. Then his Trogans went on a 6-0 run to take the lead and never looked back.
Campbell went cold in the second quarter, but trying to get around the Thorton swarming defense could cause any shooter to miss a few hoops. Thorton outscored the Cougars 17-5 in the third quarter and went on to win by 11 points.
Senior Adam Ek score 14 points in the victory. Jeff Gelinas had the game high 18 points. Senior Forward for the Cougars, Jacob Morgan had 16 points in the loss.
GAME 3: Nashua South vs. Milford
If anyone had any doubt about how South will be doing this year, they should have vanished when Jack Preston (#34) threw down a reverse dunk in yesterday's 52-42 trouncing of Milford. Ignore the score. What was seen by everyone in that South gym is testament to a long basketball career from former Nighthawk products like the Preston brothers, Danny Auger, David Dunham, Nick Penkala, Cam Joyal and many more. What the city of Nashua has done to help groom their basketball talents deserves a National Medal for recognition.
These kids can play AND they can have fun doing it! Tim Preston (#4) was seen frequently smiling ear to ear as he dribbled up the court; passing the ball inside to his elder brother Jack or taking it himself straight to the hoop. I spoke with several of the fathers who started the Nighthawk program. The pride they have for their Panthers is remarkable. Mark Wyatt, father of former Nighthawk Cody Wyatt, told me that before high school some of these kids had logged close to 350 games played as a team. No wonder they’re so good. It’s like watching 10 years NBA veterans play out there.
Coach for the Panthers Nate Mazzerole, has been with the Panthers program for 12 years now. He keeps all of his players fresh with a solid rotation. Senior Jack Preston, who fans lovingly call “The Big Show,” scored 26 points. He sat most of the fourth with all the starters to rest up. Twenty-six points….and a reverse dunk! Hats off to you Jack Preston. Hats off to all of those involved with the Nahsua Nighthawk youth program and those still involved with the Purple Panthers high school team.
These kids are fantastic to watch. I encourage any fan of basketball to come down to the South gym at noon on Saturday and watch the “Big Show” take flight.
Game 4: Nashua North vs. Hollis-Brookline
The Titans graduate 12 players from their program last year. Justin Carter (#25) is the only returning player and he tried to lead his young squad against a much larger Hollis-Brookline team.
Jordan Lates (#4) hit a three for North to start the scoring, but Hollis controlled the tempo from there-on-out. Leading 34-28 at Halftime and winning the match up to advance 47-40.
Lates, a junior, and senior Aaron Cordova scored game highs with 14 points each. Hollis-Brookline reserve Shea Whalen lead the Cavaliers with 10 points in the victory.