All season people have been talking about Pembroke, Bishop Brady, Portsmouth, Lebanon and Pelham as the cream of the crop in Division II boys basketball. Brady traveled to Portsmouth on Tuesday night, and it was definitely an even match up. There were 4 ties and 5 lead changes. If Brady and Portsmouth played each other 10 times they would both win 5 games each. Tonight was an even game, and home court played a factor. Portsmouth hit more clutch shots and was more poised in the 4th quarter with the game on the line, since they were comfortable playing in their home gym. If tonight's game was at Brady the Giants likely win.
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Loden Formichelli made some big plays late in the game, drawing a charge on Bishop Brady star point guard Jourdain Bell on one possession, then converting a crucial put-back on the next. De'Vonn Wilson-Miles and Charlie Lehoux both hit huge 3-pointers in the 4th quarter and senior forward Pat Glynn also had a big put-back in the 4th. That was all part of a 14-2 run, as Portsmouth went from being down 37-35 late in the 3rd quarter to being up 49-39 with 4:00 left in regulation.
Brady stormed back though, behind the strong play of Jourdain Bell, the hustle of Brendan Johnson and the inside play of Aaron Svendsen. After being down 10 with just 4 minutes left they ended up losing by just 1, 54-53. The Giants had the ball with 12.9 seconds left, trailing 54-51. They should have set up for a 3-pointer, since there wasn't enough time left to get a 2, foul and then get the ball back and try to score again. Instead Bell drove to the rim and dished it to Svendsen for a layup to cut it to 54-53. But now there was only 2.4 seconds left. Glynn gets fouled with 1.3 on the clock. He misses the front end of the 1-and-1, Brady gets the rebound but there's not enough time to get a quality shot. Bell's desperation heave from 3/4 court is no good and Portsmouth wins.
Portsmouth led 16-11 early on, as the game was played with high intensity and at a fast pace right from the start. Miles made a nice feed inside to Formichelli for 2 in traffic. The Bell brothers Jourdain and Joe were both pushing the tempo and attacking the rim, but the Portsmouth defense was doing a nice job of not letting them get anything easy. It was 18-13 Clippers after 1 quarter.
Brady came out sharp to start the 2nd, as Joe Bell got out in transition, pushing the ball hard up the floor and making an and-1 finish. Then Johnson got fouled shooting a 3-pointer, making 2 of the 3 FTs. Portsmouth then answered with a couple quick baskets of their own as Nick Mackey hit a pair of foul shots Lehoux connected on a 15-footer. Miles made a great block, then on the other end Jourdain Bell sprints back and makes an even better block to deny Donovan Phanor of a layup.
Glynn picked up his 3rd foul with 3:12 left and had to sit for the rest of the half. With Glynn on the bench Brady went on a 12-0 run. Johnson drained a 3 from the corner off a kick-out pass, then Danny Fogarty hit a 3 off a dish by Jourdain Bell, and seconds later Bell lays it in for 2. Bell completes the run by hitting an outside shot that looked like a 3 but the official said he had a foot on the line. The Giants were now rolling, up 30-22 with :58.9 left in the 2nd quarter. Portsmouth answered back, as Miles drew a charge on one end, and Phanor hits a big 3-pointer, and the Brady lead is just 6, 31-25 at halftime.
Phanor again made a play to get Portsmouth back in it, making a strong drive and hitting a tough leaner in the paint in the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Jourdain Bell then made a great drive and dish to his brother Joe for a layup. Lehoux then hit a 3 to cut the Brady lead to 34-33, but then freshman guard Matt Quirk came off the bench and just seconds after entering the game drilled a 3 ball of his own.
After a Clippers steal, Phanor lays it in. Mackey then hit a cutting Lehoux for a layup, and we were all tied up 37-37. That was the start of the Clippers 14-2 run that would result in there 49-39 4th quarter lead. You know how the rest of the game went by reading above.
Both teams had balanced scoring as nobody had more than 13 points on either side. Lehoux led Portsmouth with 13, while both Bell brothers dropped 13 for Brady. If you can hold both Bells to under 15 in the same game you're doing something well, and Portsmouth definitely did a nice job of containing the explosive duo. Don't be surprised if these teams meet again come tournament time.