If the first couple games are any indication, we are in for a wild season in Division I boys basketball. Bishop Guertin has gone to overtime in each of their first 2 games (wins over Salem and Bedford), while Bedford has 2 heartbreaking losses - one that came on a last second 3 by Merrimack's Eric Gendron, and the other being an overtime defeat to BG where they would have won in regulation if not for a pair of 3-pointers in the closing seconds by CJ Boykin.
So BG is 2-0, but they're giving their head coach Jim Migneault gray hair, Bedford is the best 0-2 team in the state. And yes, it will be a wild season.
Both teams fought each other tooth and nail the whole way. The teams were playing in front of a packed gym at BG, and it was a close battle throughout with neither team leading by more than 5 points during regulation. That 5 point lead belonged to Bedford, when the led 54-49 with 1:12 left in regulation following a pair of threes by 6-foot-5 freshman Colby Gendron (game-high 22 points) and 2 FT's by Taylor Grande (11 points, 5 assists and 3 steals). But then Boykin drilled a 3 ball with :34 left to cut the the Bedford lead to 55-54. Then Cameron Meservey made 1 of 2 FT's, and Boykin hit another clutch 3-pointer, this time tying the game up 57-57 with :05 left. Meservey's last second shot attempt was no good, and we were headed to overtime. The Cardinals went on to win 69-66 in the extra session.
"CJ has the ultimate confidence, he's not afraid to take the big shot" said Bishop Guertin head coach Jim Migneault. "Having him speeds the game up. Let's face it, there's not many kids in New Hampshire who are as fast as him."
In overtime 6-foot-4 junior wing Ryan Brown (13 points and 9 rebounds) put Bedford up 60-58 with a strong drive and finish. BG answered right back though, as junior wing Kyle Gavin (15 points) drilled a 3-pointer to put Guertin up 61-60. Brown makes 1 of 2 foul shots to tie up up 61-61, then on the next time down the floor Gavin again gets the ball behind the arc. This time Bedford is called for a costly foul, fouling Gavin on the 3-point attempt. He makes all 3 free throws, and it's 64-61 BG with 1:07 left in OT. Boykin and Gavin both add clutch FT's late, and BG takes a 69-63 lead. Colby Gendron hits a 3-pointer at the buzzer but it's too late, as BG holds on for the 69-66 win.
"Colby and his brother Gardner were great for us tonight" said Bedford head coach Mike Fitzpatrick. "We knew Colby could shoot it like that, it was just a matter of when. Gardner did a nice job on the boards. I was proud of the way the team fought and scrapped tonight."
Colby Gendron had 22 points and Boykin had a team-high 21 points. The game's 2 leading scorers, and neither player started the game. You don't see that everyday!
Joe Marandola got the game started by hitting a smooth 18-footer from the baseline, and Brown answered back by driving hard to the rim and finishing inside. BG was pressing on a make, and both teams were using their size and strength up front to block a lot of shots. No bucket inside came easy.
The other thing you noticed early in this game was that both coaches were substituting players in and out of the game at a furious pace. It almost seemed like a scrimmage in that regard. It's still early in the season, and both coaches were experimenting with lineup combinations and match ups, trying to find the right mix out there.
BG was leading early, but then Meservey connected on a 3 ball from the left wing as BG wasn't able to close out quick enough after the skip pass went over to him. That cur the Bg lead to 7-5, and Guertin led 7-6 after a low scoring 1st quarter.
Then came the play that you could argue determined the outcome of the game. Andrew Williams hit a 3-pointer from the wing, however the ball clearly struck the cross bar above the basket. Once the basketball hit that bar the whistle should have blown, it should have been out of bounds, and possession of the ball awarded to Bedford. Instead no whistle blew, and the officials called it a 3-pointer. Seriously people, this call was a no-brainer. Moments after the shot a timeout was called, and during the timeout myself and the others seated near that basket could STILL see the cross bar wobbling from being hit by the ball. If the officials made the correct call then Bedford would have won this game in regulation.
That's when Colby Gendron started to heat up. He went coast-to-coast, pushing the ball up the floor and taking it all the way to the rim for 2. On the other end Marandola gathered in his own missed shot and put it back in strong. Then Colby Gendron hit a 3 ball from the wing. Jack Zimmerman and Boykin both responded with threes for BG, and then Colby Gendron made a strong put-back. The scoring was started to pick up, as BG led 24-20 at the half.
In the 3rd quarter Bedford really crashed the offensive boards and used their size to their advantage. Gardner Gendron and Brown were the 2 guys who were really stepping up on the boards. Gardner Gendron had a strong put-back, then Meservey hit a leaner and the game was knotted 24-24. Brown again crashed the boards, finishing the and-1 put-back. Bedford takes a 27-24 lead. Boykin then drove into the lane, made a great dish to Gavin. Gavin missed the shot, but rebounded his own miss and put it back in. We were all tied up 35-35 headed to the 4th quarter.
Brown continued to drive it hard to basket, getting to the line and getting BG into foul trouble. Marandola fouled out eventually. Gavin scored on a layup off a nice feed from Kyle Lavoie. Colby Gendron continued to impress, hitting another 3 ball, and then going inside for 2 more to give the Bulldogs a 42-39 lead.
Bg ties it back up, but then good ball movement by Bedford leads to an open 3-point attempt for Grande. He drills the shot, and Bedford goes up 45-42. Back-and-forth the teams went though, exchanging big play after big play. Boykin exploded to the rim off the dribble for an and-1 finish as Guertin re-takes the lead 47-46 with 3:02 left in the 4th.
Then Bedford takes the lead back on a pair of threes by Colby Gendron, and well, you already know the rest. A great game, it's a shame one of the teams had to lose. Expect both teams to be near the top of the D-I standings all season long.