By: Tuesday and Friday
The Preston Brothers combined for 35 points to help give the Panthers the win over the Cardinals. It was such a non-game night feeling to this game. It was Sunday. Every one was coming off the heels of one of the biggest snow storms in years. You can pardon the fans of this well attended game for not having the energy of a usual game crowd. Fans were watching this game as opposed to cheering in this game. The players even had a slow start with the weird day/start time of the game. One thing became clear shortly after the game was under way. It seemed the BG players used shovels to clear the snow on Saturday while the South players used snow blowers.
South was a step quicker. South was stronger and the Panthers made better decisions. The first half belonged to Jack Preston and South. Preston had a very impressive first half scoring 20 points on a variety of offensive moves highlighted by a thunder dunk on a break away in the first quarter. Preston knocked down two 3's in the first half also. Jeff Lunn was swimming in basketball quick sand as were his Cardinal team mates. Coach Migs tried every thing at his disposal, but to no avail. The trio of Preston, Preston and Dunham was too much for the Cardinals as South carried a 41 to 22 lead into the half time break.
BG was once again playing without CJ Boykins. The Cardinals really needed him for this game. The Panther backcourt combo of Tim Preston and Dan Auger proved too much for any BG backcourt combo that was pieced together by Migs. Preston is one of the best basketball drink stirrers in the state and some would arguably say the best. I know I had a respectful argument with rwvogeley about this drink stirrer issue. RW stands by Tim Preston as well he should. Preston has a great handle, is physical, can score when needed and has the brother karma of playing with brother Jack, as in finding him at the right place at the right time with a nice assist. Dan Auger is Jon Klecan-Light. His motor is always running. He has some serious hops for a small guard and gets after it defensively.
Jeff Lunn came on in the 2nd half and looked like JEFF LUNN. Jack Preston got into a little foul trouble and this is when Lunn became a force with his usual array of post moves and finishes. He helped get BG close at 46 to 33. Tim Preston took over for South and scored 8 points in the 3rd quarter to help push the south lead back up into the 15 to 18 point area. After 3 quarters South lead 54 to 39. The 4th quarter was spent with Migs trying to find any combination that could click, while South just played well enough to maintain their solid double digit lead. Jack Preston had 22 points to lead South. Tim Preston had 13. David Dunham and Nick Penkala had 10 each. Jeff Lunn finished with 17 to lead the Cardinals. Jeff Noon with 8 and Jack Zimmerman with 7 helped the Cardinal cause.
So, what did I learn from this game? When South is clicking they are a really tough team. In today's D1 boys basketball if you have 3 consistent scorers you can be a tough team to beat. South has the trio of the Preston brothers and David Dunham. If Dunham is scoring South can be tough. If Dunham can score consistently South can certainly be a Final Four team. To have your point guard and center be brothers is an added advantage. The plays the Preston brothers make with each other on the court are truly symbiotic and give this Panther club a Je ne sais quoi that other teams don't have. Add in the toughness and intangibles of Dan Auger and the fine play of Nick Penkala along with Mazz's clipboard and you have a tough team to match up with.
One important Panther Caveat: Jack Preston must harness his emotions on the court. He was coming off a suspension last week. He has an edge to him that serves him well as in the thunder dunk he had to get his team going in this game or in his physical play in the paint. Sometimes his edginess can make him make ill advised decisions as in the intentional foul he picked up in the 4th quarter 60 feet from the hoop when his team was up by solid double digits. Sometimes when he hits a shot he has a body language which might fire up the other team. If I'm a Panther fan I could only hope he keeps his emotions in check in the heated cauldron of a playoff game.
For BG Jeff Lunn was on an island for the majority of the game. It seemed BG was stuck on 10 points for the longest time in the first half. As of right now they don't have consistent scorers to help them get over the hump of teams above them in the standings. BG experienced another signature loss. They have not beaten anybody above them in the standings. They are in 7th place right now and that is where they should be with losses to South, Trinity, Memorial and Merrimack. Could this change when the Cardinals get Boykins back from injury. Perhaps, but he is not a consistent scorer.
The Jack Preston vs Jeff Lunn battle for POY. This was decidedly won, for tonight, by Jack Preston. He put Lunn and BG away early in this game circa Clay vs. Liston in Lewiston, Maine in 1965. The POY battle has not been decided as of today. Jack Preston certainly has a better supporting cast. Lunn puts up solid numbers week in and week out. Jack Preston certainly made a statement for POY tonight.
There was quite an array of basketball fans in the stands for this game. Pete Tarrier and his son. Chris Shuker of WGAM. The new Alvirne football coach Mark Phillips. Jeremy of our own NHN. GNG, DeafPanther and RWvogeley of the NH Sports Forum. Ryan Gauthier and the North Lady's basketball team. The BG girl's basketball team. It almost had the feel of Durham with the vast array of hoopsters in attendance.