On Thursday night at Nashua High North, 6-foot-6 senior forward Jeff Lunn celebrated his 18th birthday in style - with a 26 point, 13 rebound performance to lead BG to a 70-61 win over Nashua North. BG is now 10-4 on the season, and Lunn solidifies his status as a legit Player of the Year candidate in Division I.
"He's been big for us" said Bishop Guertin head coach Jim Migneault. "He can go outside if he has to, but he can also go inside. North is tough, the play hard. But we knew Jeff had the size advantage so we wanted to get it inside. Jeff also made some great passes."
In addition to the dominance of Lunn, the other factor that led to BG's win was depth. The Cardinals played a whopping 14 kids in this game - most teams don't even have that many on their roster! 8 of them made it into the scoring column, and over the course of the game they definitely wore the Titans down.
"I looked over and saw they only had 10 kids on their bench" said Migneault. "So I wanted to push the tempo and get to their legs."
BG was up 36-32 at halftime, as North (now 3-11 on the season) played right with them the whole 1st half. The Titans were led by Jordan Lates (13 of his team-high 20 points came in 2nd half), Justin Carter (15 points), Aaron Cordova and Demitri Jackson.
But then in the 3rd quarter Guertin broke the game open, going on a 13-3 run. Just like that it went from a 4 point game to a 14 point lead for the Cardinals. Lunn and Andrew Williams scored on a couple of quick buckets inside, then Lunn scored 2 more after BG came up with a steal. That made it 46-35 BG with 250 left in the 1st half. Then John Noon hit a 3-pointer (his second of the game) to make it 49-35. Freshman guard Jack Zimmerman capped the rally with a great look and zipping a pass over to Patrick Bilodeau for a 53-39 Guertin lead after 3 quarters.
That run turned out to be the difference in the game.
Give credit to North though, as they kept on fighting in the 4th quarter to get back in the game. Led by Cordova's sharp shooting from the outside and the all-around play of Lates and Carter, they were able to cut the BG lead to just 6 after a three by Cordova to make it 59-53.
"You tell me a kid on that floor who played harder than Justin Carter" said Nashua orth head coach Steve Lane. "He sets the tone for us, and brings leadership. I've got 12 guys who I'd put against anyone in the state because of how hard they play. I'm proud of them."
But every time North was able to cut the lead to 6 or 7, BG answered back. Lunn had some strong drives to the rim and finishes, as North just couldn't match up with his combination of size, strength, quickness and skill. He ten amde a great pass to a cutting Costas Niarhos for an easy layup.
North was down 7 with jsut under a minute left with possession. Lates got a good look at a three, and it looked like the shot was going in. It went halfway down and then popped out. If that shot goes in it's only a 4 point game with 50 seconds left and who knows what might have happened from there. But it was no good, BG added some free throws late and held on for the 70-61 win.
Helping to push the tempo for BG was junior guard CJ Boykin, who had been sidelined for the past few games. Boykin and Steven Toscano brought stability, toughness and speed to the back court.
"I was looking at the schedules for some of the teams, and if we win out we have a shot at a top 4 seed" said Migneault. "If we lose a game we could still be a top 6 seed."
If only every day could be Jeff Lunn's 18th birthday, they might never lose.