Sunday, December 8, 2013

Coaches for a Cause Jamboree - Day 2 Recap

The Coaches for a Cause Jamboree continued with 5 more games on Saturday at Alvirne High School. Here are the final scores:

Alvirne 84 Newport 54
Lebanon 64 Spaulding 63
Bedford 65 Portsmouth 52
Manchester Central 68 Conant 51
Trinity 64 Pembroke 58

Now, here's the recap of each game:

Alvirne 84 Newport 54
In the first game of the day Division I Alvirne took care of business against Newport, a Final Four team in D-III last year. Newport was playing without 4 key players who were unable to make the trip. Alvirne is a team with good size, they moved the ball well and they once again look like a team that will compete for a top 8 seed in D-I.

Inside the Broncos were led by 6-foot-5 senior Tyler Brown (committed to D-I Northeastern for baseball), 6-foot-4 junior Sam Bonney-Liles, 6-foot-2 senior Alex Wetmore and 6-foot-2 junior Evan Hunt. Those 4 guys controlled the boards all game, and scored at will in the paint.

Alvirne went went up 24-12 early in the 2nd quarter and didn't look back. Brown had a couple of strong finishes inside in the 2nd quarter, and Wetmore was grabbing boards and scoring inside. Newport 6-foot-3 junior Andrew Houde was doing all he could to keep the Tigers in the game, as he had over 20 points on the game and drilled a number of 3-pointers. Houde hit a 3, but then Wetmore made a nice pass to a cutting Danny Tucci for a layup. That gave Alvirne a commanding 37-15 lead with 4:03 left in the 1st half. In addition to his hot shooting from the outside, Houde was also making some strong drives to the rim. It wasn't enough though, as Tyler Janko pulled down an offensive rebound and converted an and-1 put-back. Houde hit another 3 before the end of the half, but the Broncos took a 44-21 lead into the locker room.

Wetmore continued to dominate the boards in the 2nd half. Then he hit a 3, but then Houde answered right back with a 3 of his own to cut the Alvirne lead to 57-35 with 3:05 left in the quarter. Hunt then hit a 3-pointer of his own off the catch. Newport was down by 20+ points but kept on fighting out there. Junior point guard Spencer Coronis hit a tough runner in the lane, then Houde knifed his with through the defense with a tough drive, got inside and then converted thr and-1 finish. Coronis then made another strong drive, made a good spn move into the lane and banked in the shot. The Broncos cruise to the 84-54 win.

Lebanon 64 Spaulding 63
Spaulding led 39-25 at halftime, but Lebanon made an impressive comeback in the 2nd half. Sophomore guard Austin Whaley hit a leaner with 22 seconds left in the 4th quarter for what turned out to be the game winning shot.

Lebanon lacks size, with no player taller than 6-foot-2 and a team of virtually all guards. But what they do have is toughness and a never say die attitude. They rotated 8 kids and all of them are quick and all 8 of them can score and got after it on defense.

Spaulding meanwhile had a definite size advantage, with the tough inside duo of senior Charlie Nevejans and junior Anthony Ciccotelli. They took advantage of their size in the 1st half, but not as much in the 2nd half and that was a big reason Lebanon was able to come back.

Kalin Sou, Lebanon's senior captain led all scorers with 22. Sou consistently hit shots from the perimeter, including 2 big 3's during the Raiders' 2nd half comeback.

Nevejans showed strong post up moves and was finishing well inside in the 1st quarter. Then freshman guard KJ Matte (son of Lebanon head coach Keith Matte) knifed his way to the rim off the bounce and finished strong with his off hand. Nevejans made another strong post move inside, turning around and banking in the shot as Spaulding led 17-10 after 1 quarter.

Martin Gradijan made a strong drive and finish for Lebanon, but the Red Raider lead increased to 22-13 on a 3-pointer by senior guard Quinn Connelly. The scoring really picked up in the 2nd quarter, with both teams moving the ball well and hitting shots. Spaulding scored 22 points in the quarter and Lebanon scored 18. Junior guard Darian Berry hit his second 3-pointer off the game, but then Lebanon answered right back as Dominick Morrill hit a 3 of his own off some very good ball movement by his teammates. Nevejans continued to score inside - he had a team-high 19 points on the game. Matte played strong on-the-ball defense. Connelly hit another 3, and Spaulding had their biggest lead of the game 32-16 with 248 left in the 1st half.

Trey Scott took a charge and then Berry hit a tough floater in the lane. Matte and Whaley both hit 3's at the end of the quarter, but the Raiders trailed 39-25 at the half.

Lebanon wasted no time in the 3rd quarter to make their comeback. Sou connected on back-to-back 3-pointers and the Spaulding lead was down to 42-31. Spaulding kept battling, as Berry pushed the ball hard up the floor on the break for an and-1 finish.

The rest of the quarter though was all Lebanon. Sou drove and made a great dish over to Jon Cioffredi for a layup. Then Gradijan made a great hustle play, diving on the floor for a loose ball and while still on the floor tipping it over to a teammate. They got the ball up ahead to Sou, who made the layup on the other end. Morrill then hit a 3-pointer and just like that the Spaulding lead is down to 5, 47-42. Then Matte drives, kicks it over to Sou for yet another 3 ball. Lebanon now is only down 48-47 headed to the 4th quarter.

In the 4th quarter Spaulding got the ball back to Nevejans inside for 2. But then Whaley made a big play by getting to the rim off the dribble for an and-1 finish. Austin Pelletier then hit a jumper from 15 feet out to tie the game up 59-59 with 3:45 remaining.

Spaulding responded though as Berry made a hard drive and good finish, and Ciccotelli made a strong drop step move and a good lefty finish in traffic.

That's when Whaley hit a leaner with 22 seconds left to put Lebanon up 64-63. Spaulding calls timeout with possession of the ball and 11 seconds to play. Nevejans gets fouled and goes to the line for 2. He misses both shots and Berry's last second heave from half court was no good. Lebanon holds on for the win.

Bedford 65 Portsmouth 52
Portsmouth was playing without possibly their best player in senior guard Donovan Phanor and Bedford took advantage of that. Phanor is out with an ankle injury suffered during football season. Bedford played tough man-to-man defense and got balanced scoring.

Bedford jumped out to a quick 7-0 start, before De'Von Wilson-Miles got them on the board with a 3-pointer and Pat Glynn made a strong put-back. Cam Meservey answered with a 3 ball and the Bulldogs went up 13-6 with 2:05 left in the 1st quarter. It was 17-9 Bedford after 1.

Bedford increased their lead in the 2nd quarter, as Meservey hit another 3. Wilson-Miles converted a put-back, and then freshman guard Matt Glassman countered with a 3. Bedford led 33-20 at halftime.

The 3rd quarter also went Bedford's way. The Bulldogs continued to look for the 3 ball, and this time it was jake Capistran connecting from long range to make it 40-23 BHS. Senior guard Nick Mackey was doing his part to keep Portsmouth in it, as he made a nice steal and converted the layup on the other end. Just seconds later senior point guard Taylor Grande answered right back for Bedford with a 3-pointer of his own. Grande did a nice job of pressuring the basketball on 'D' all game.

Mackey then hit a 3, but Meservey answered right back by hitting a tough leaner on the other end while also drawing a foul. Zac Hansler and Glyn hit 3's late in the quarter for the Clippers, but they still trailed 54-36 after 3. Also playing well for Bedford was junior Ryan Brown. Portsmouth found some rhythm in the 4th quarter to close the gap a little. Bedford still wins by double digits though, 65-52.

Look for both teams to get better as the season goes on, and to compete for a top 8 seed in their respective divisions.

Manchester Central 68 Conant 51
The gym was really packed for these last 2 games, it was a great atmosphere for these kids to play in heading into the season. The story of this one was 6-foot-2 junior guard Brett Hanson, who exploded for 37 points. Hanson was hitting 3's, mid-range jumpers, scoring in transition and taking the ball hard to the rim and finishing with an array of floaters, leaners and turnaround shots.

Don't let the final score fool you - Conant is a very good basketball team. I wouldn't be surprised if they go undefeated in Division III play this year en route to another title. But they just ran into a Central team that is simply loaded. Central and Trinity are clearly the 2 best teams in the state right now. Which one is better? We'll find out when they play each other on December 20.

In addition to Hanson, Central also has the Martin brothers - Jon and Joey who transferred in from Florida. Jon is a 6-foot-4 senior who had 9 points on the game - he is quick, physical inside player who isn't afraid to mix it up in the paint, grab some boards but can also step away from the basket and shoot it. Joey (15 points) is more of a finesse player who is more comfortable out on the perimeter where he is a very capable outside shooter. Hanson and the Martin brothers scored all except 7 of the team's 68 points. Dawson Dickson is a third year starter at point guard, Tyler Kelly and Nick Makris add size and depth up front and Mike Plentzas adds depth to the back court. Plentzas started last year, and would start for pretty much any other team in the state but that just shows how good this Central team is.

Joey Martin and Hanson both hit 3's right off the bat, and Central went up 6-1. Conant senior guard Kyle Carland then slashed to the rim, making a strong take and lefty finish. Teammate Robert O'Brien hit an 18-footer and then Joey Martin answered right back with another 3 ball as the Little Green go up 13-6 early.Hanson exploded to the rim for an adn-1, and Central leads 16-8 after 1.

A Plentzas layup off a good pass from Hanson makes it 18-8 Central. But then O'Brien started to heat up to keep Conant in it. The 6-foot-1 guard had a team-high 23 points. He hit a 3-pointer from the wing while also drawing a foul. That cut the Central lead to 22-19.

Hanson and O'Brien kept going back-and-forth, hitting big shot after big shot. Hanson was making plays off the dribble with some strong finishes inside, while O'Brien drove hard to the rim for another and-1. A 3-pointer by Conant guard Josh Degrenier makes it 35-31 Central. But then Joey Martin converts 2 quick layups, one off a nice feed by Kelly and Central leads 39-31 at the half.

Hanson continues to put on a show in the 2nd half. He drove baseline, drew a second defender and then made a great dish to the open man, finding Kelly for 2. Then Eli Hodgson (17 points) got hacked on the way up with a shot inside but no call. Then just seconds later Hanson goes hard to the rim, makes the basket and draws a foul as Central goes up 44-31 with 4:21 left in the 3rd quarter. Hanson hit a nice leaner off the glass, and O'Brien kept on drilling tough shots. Central leads 52-39 after 3.

Hodgson had an impressive 4th quarter, showing good post moves and going right at the Central bigs down low. He also faced up, took his man off the dribble, made a spin move and hit a smooth turnaround jumper. But Central was just too good, as Hanson continued to dominate - he exploded to the rim for 2 more, then got into the lane and hit another tough leaner. Most impressive was that Hanson's motor just never seemed to stop out there, he was always looking to attack and keep pressure on the defense.

Conant played hard, and they played Central tough but the Little Green go on to win it 68-51. Conant lost - don't expect to read those words very much (if at all) this season.

Trinity 64 Pembroke 58
Last but absolutely not least is the game everyone was talking about. The defending D-I champs Trinity vs. the defending D-II champs Pembroke. And after watching this game it wouldn't be a surprise at all if both teams repeated as champs this winter. This had the intensity and the atmosphere of a regular season game. Brad Rhoades (13 points) had a big game both offensively and defensively. Rhoades is a former Pembroke player, and him and teammate Ryan Otis both play AAU ball with the GS Raiders alongside many Pembroke players, which only added to the significance of this game.

Both teams were making shots right from the beginning. Rhoades hit a 3, and then Dominic Timbas answered back with one of his own for the Spartans. Then Trinity senior guard Patrick Keefe took a charge on Pembroke senior forward Kafani Williams, and then on the other end Keefe drilled a 3-pointer.

Then Pembroke senior guard Patrick Welch started to heat up. The 6-foot-1 Welch (possibly the best player in the state) made a crossover dribble and went right up into a 3. Otis answered back with a 3 ball of his own. Pembroke then started bringing in not 1 but 3 different kids off their bench who are 6-foot-7. Londonderry transfer Rob Wilson, Adam Presutti and Max Curran - only a junior but at his height was out on the perimeter hitting a 3. Pembroke has good size up front in their starting lineup with the 6-foot-4 Williams, and Timbas and Cameron Taylor who are both 6-foot-5. Then they bring in 3 kids who are all 6-foot-7 off the bench. Safe to say they're the biggest team in the state.

Otis hit a layup right at the end of the quarter, and we were all tied up 18-18 after 1.

In the 2nd quarter Welch continues to hit shots from all over the floor. He had 17 in the 1st half. Trinity again takes a charge - this time it's Carmen Giampetruzzi (who also had a team-high 18 points) taking one on Timbas. Pembroke went to a 2-3 zone which somewhat slowed down the Trinity offense. Timbas hits a shot inside right before the buzzer, and it's 32-29 Trinity at the half.

In the 2nd half though, Welch was held to just 4 points and that really was the difference.

"We were playing a few guys who don't have much varsity experience" said Pembroke head coach Matt Alosa. "They weren't ready yet for kind of a game. Pat also deferred in the 2nd half a little too much."

Still, even with Welch being quiet in the 3rd quarter, Pembroke still outscored Trinity 15-12 in the 3rd frame. Williams had a very effective quarter, hitting some shots in traffic and showing improved post moves. Meanwhile for Trinity, Keefe hit a tough bucket inside, Otis drained another 3 and Keefe drove baseline and made a good dish to Ryan Boldwin for a layup. We were all tied 44-44 after 3 as two of the best teams in the state were really bringing it.

In the 4th quarter though Pembroke turned it over too much, Welch was quiet offensively and Giampetruzzi hit some big shots. One of the key Pembroke turnovers came on a steal by Luke Testa (a transfer from Pinkerton) went hard to the basket on the break, went to the line and made both FT's.

Then Rhoades connected on the biggest shot of the game - a clutch 3-pointer from the wing to put Trinity up 54-46 with just 4:00 left. That would turn out to be too much of a deficit for the Spartans to come back from.

Pembroke kept battling though, going on a 6-0 run to cut the Trinity lead to 54-52 with 2:53 left. Timbas scored inside, Welch made a layup in transition and Taylor capped the run with a tip-in.

But that's as close as Pembroke would get the rest of the way. Giampetruzzi made a big steal and layup on the other end. Rhoades came up with yet another big shot, as he drove into the lane and banked in a leaner. Timbas made a good move inside for 2 more, but Trinity held on for the 64-58 win.

The Pioneers were playing without Wenyen Gabriel, who is sidelined with an injury but did say that he returns to practice this week and hopes to play vs. Central on December 20.

Pembroke won't play anyone as good as Trinity in D-II and they are the clear cut favorite to repeat as champs. Trinity is the favorite in D-I, but not by much as Central is right there too.

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