Considering Oyster River returns their leading scorer and most of their top players from a team that won 13 games last year you had to expect a close, evenly matched game when they tipped off with seacoast rival Portsmouth in the finals of the Bobcat Invitational Basketball Tournament. But as it turned out this was not an evenly matched game, and Portsmouth was clearly the better team.
The Clippers got strong inside play from forwards Pat Glynn (18 points) and De'Vonn Wilson-Miles (14 points), who both had over 10 rebounds and dominated the paint. Donovan Phanor, Zac Hansler, Charlie Lehoux and Nick Mackey all played well in the back court, and Portsmouth crushed Oyster River 71-40.
"Coach told us before the game that the one thing where we had the advantage on them was our size" said Glynn, who was named tournament MVP. "Nick mackey hit that first 3 to give us the momentum and then we rode that. That play was supposed to go to Donovan, but he was covered so Nick got the shot."
That 3 by Mackey came just 4 seconds into the game. That shot ignited an 8-0 Portsmouth run to start the game, as Wilson-Miles made an alley-oop layup followed by an and-1 finish on the break by Phanor. Aidan Conrad finally got the Bobcats on the board with a tough lefty leaner off the dribble. Phanor and Loden Formichelli made quick layups, and it was 14-2 Clippers with 2:10 left in the quarter. Oyster River head coach Stuart Mitchell called a timeout to try to regroup his squad. Out of the timeout though Glynn made a steal and good pass ahead to Hansler for a layup. It was all Portsmouth, 16-3 after 1. Bobcats all-state guard Nick Lazar had 0 points and took just 1 shot in the 1st quarter.
To begin the 2nd quarter Oyster River came out with an increased level of intensity, especially on defense. They were now finally matching the level of intensity Portsmouth had already brought the entire 1st quarter. The Bobcats were forcing some turnovers now though, as Chris Clement made a nice steal and layup on the other end. Mackey answered right back, banking in a pull-up jumper at the elbow to make it 22-5 PHS with 5:00 to play in the half. Finally Lazar got on the board, hitting a shot in close.
The Clippers just kept on rolling though, as Lehoux and Glynn drilled back-to-back threes to make it a 30-10 lead with 1:48 left in the half. Portsmouth had a commanding 30-12 lead at halftime.
After scoring just 12 points in the entire 1st half, Oyster River finally started to get some rhythm offensively in the 3rd quarter, scoring 15. Problem is, they weren't able to cut into the Portsmouth lead, as the Clippers also scored 15 in the quarter. Glynn had a strong and-1 finish, then Chris Gallant drilled a 3 ball for the Bobcats. Colin Runk hit a layup, then Gallant connected on another 3. Portsmouth still led 45-27 after 3.
Wilson-Miles really came on strong in the 4th quarter to put the game even further out of reach. Him and Glynn were very active inside, crashing the boards and really playing hard on both ends of the floor. Wilson-Miles made a strong put-back, then Glynn scored a layup on a well designed baseline out of bounds play. Wilson-Miles hit a foul line jumper, then Lehoux scored on a tough leaner to increase the Clippers lead to 55-32 with 4:53 left.
Portsmouth is really playing some good ball right now. You have the tough inside duo with Glynn and Wilson-Miles, you have Phanor who can shoot but also make plays off the dribble with his explosiveness. Phanor, Hansler and Mackey are all guards who are tough as nails, they're all quick, hard nosed kids who really get after it on defense and can all handle the ball. Lehoux and Formichelli are versatile wings who can play inside or outside and hit shots. Plus you have one of the state's best coaches in Jim Mulvey. Bottom line, this looks like a legit Final Four contender.
"We have a big game coming up vs. Pembroke" said Glynn. "We still have sloppiness to fix to get where we want to be."
It's still very early, but there does appear to be a clear cut top 5 teams in D-II right now. They are Pembroke, Pelham, Portsmouth, Lebanon and Bishop Brady. Pembroke is the hands down favorite, especially after they beat Bishop Brady 76-56 on Saturday night to capture their fourth consecutive Capital City Tournament championship.