Monday, December 31, 2012

Panthers Win 2nd Straight Chick-fil-A Tourney Title

By: Ross Laorenza
After seeing South win on a buzzer beater and gnawing their fingers away in 20T the fans inside the Nashua South gym needed a big win to settle their nerves. They got what they asked for last night with Nashua South’s 64-46 win over Thornton Academy

Cam “The Diamond Panther” Joyal
Cam Joyal scored 16 points off the bench for South, including four 3-pointers. He was frequently left alone in the corner as Thornton tried a man-man defense that had proved so successful against Hollis-Brookline and Campbell. Joyal hit a three at the buzzer that knotted the game at 20 points at the end of the first quarter. He is very precise with his shots, and takes his time watching the follow through.

“He’s really been a diamond in the rough for us,” said Coach Nate Mazzerole. “He can play.”

And play Cam did with the rest of his Panther teammates. Jack Preston, Tim Preston, Danny Auger, Trevor Knight started along with Nick Penkala. Penkala, (#24) filled the starting spot usually occupied by David Dunham who needed some rest after the tough win against Souhegan. More on Dunham later…

Quinn Richardson-Newton, Jeff Gelinas and Malcolm Dopwell all played well for Thornton Academy, but after a long double over-time game they looked tired late.
It’s tough when weather affects the games, but that is something no one can control but Mother Nature.

“They’re a very good team,” said Coach Mazzerole, speaking of the Golden Tornados, post game.

Captain Jeff Gelinas finished with 17 points on the game. He and Richardson-Newton were honored post game with spots on the “All-tournament Team.”

Jack and Tim Preston, for South, also made the team. And well deserved spots they were. South wouldn’t be in the finals if not for Jack’s 26 point performance in the first round and Tim’s clutch three to beat the buzzer against Souhegan.

Preston Brothers vs. Akat and Iradukunda
Those brothers are two of the best at their craft. I would love to see them square off against Tong Akat and ZoubelIradukunda for Manchester Memorial. Tong and Jack have incredible size and strength. Zoubel and Tim have miles and miles of athletic ability and a great drive to the hoop. I think Jack Preston could over power Akat down low, but if Tong gets the ball to Zoubel, forget about it. He has 4 inches on young Tim.

Panthers vs. Crusader Team Match Up
Let this game happen in the NHIAA tournament. If both teams are healthy it would be like the Titans battling the New Greek Gods. Manchester versus Nashua; Crusader offense versus Panther Defense: I’d even watch a scrimmage. If it happens again, I will be there. These two teams are tops in the state right now, in my opinion. 1A and 1B.

From a fundamental standpoint both teams are evenly matched. Memorial has a more experienced Coach in Jack Quirk, but Nate Mazzerole has been at Nashua for 12 years and has the experienced players from the Nighthawk program.

Meeting a living Legend
South has the support of more than just the city of Nashua. Kaleb Josephspoke about how much he had learned from playing Nighthawk’s basketball with now full grown Panthers.

Kaleb is a standout for Cushing Academy and one of the top basketball prospects in the country.

“Leadership,” was one key attributes he mentioned as the opening buzzer sounded from inside the South gym. That young man is something special. He is very well spoken, carries himself well a “natural born leader.” We all can learn a little something from young Mr. Joseph; Professionalism.

It was a true honor to speak with the young man. Big thanks to Mark Wyatt for the introduction. And thank you, to Mr. Wyatt, Mr. Auger, Mr. Penkala and all the parents (North and South) for talking about the young star and all the former Nighthawks, with me, throughout the tournament.

Final Thoughts on Chick-fil-A Tourney
South won 64-46 for their “2nd straight title and 3rd in five years” (WGAM). But all the players got to showcase themselves. The games don’t count toward regular season play, but the recognition and respect, the teams and their coaches gained can last a lifetime. Sometimes you realize, it’s about more than just the Game. The ones who do; live to play the game; get absorbed the environment, interact with the people and have fun doing it all. You can taste victory and some great Chick-fil-A food after. Both very savory…

The buses were loaded and the cars all packed home. Even the dancing Chick-Fil-A cows had returned to their pasture. What an amazing weekend for high-school basketball. Now let’s get ready for the rest of the regular season! Everyone in the city of Nashua (South and North) deserves a medal for the hard work they put in, day in and day out, for those students athletes.

From a snowed in home office, deep in New Hampshire; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook

1 comment:

  1. Ross and Jeremy ... thanks for covering the tournament for us. We truly feel that there is another showcase tournament here in NH other than the QCIBT. I would also like to thank Ross for all of the Chick-fil-A sandwiches and cookies he ate ... thanks to him our snackbar turned a profit! Happy New Year to all ... Kevin Flynn, Tournament Director