Thursday, March 27, 2014

Granite Games Recap - D-III vs. D-IV Boys All-Star Game

Next up in our series of Granite Games recaps from Sunday over at NHTI is the Boys Division III vs. Division IV All-Star Game. It's funny how it worked out, because both girls games were fairly close whereas both boys games were 30+ point blowouts, although all four games were decided by double digits. That's surprising, since usually every year there is at least 1 or 2 of these games that go down to the wire.

In the D-III vs. D-IV boys game though, it was actually a very close game for most of the 1st half and it wasn't until the 2nd half when the D-III All-Stars ran away with it. Late in the 1st half D-III was only up 36-30 following a 3-pointer by Bailey Johnson (Profile). Jimmy Stanley (Epping) had an impressive game with a team-high 19 points and 8 rebounds for D-IV, but as the game went on the D-III squad just kept hitting shots and increasing the lead. They were a deeper team with more weapons with Robert O'Brien (Conant) and Isaiah Prince (Monadnock) showing the ability to score at will.

O'Brien helped Conant win back-to-back Division III titles, and was D-III Player of the Year this season. He'll be attending Cushing Academy next year to do a post-graduate year. Prince scored 1,000 points for Monadnock, but is even better at football. Prince led Monadnock to the D-V state title in 2012 as a junior, and in 2013 as a senior he led the Huskies to an undefeated regular season.

Stanley hit a 3 right off the opening tip, 3-0 Division IV All-Stars. The long, athletic, high upside talent Gabe Nichols (Hopkinton) made a nice tip-in for D-III. The 6-foot-5 Nichols put on a show in warm ups with one-highlight reel dunk after another. One one of them he threw the ball off the back board, caught it in mid-air and threw down a windmill dunk that got the crowd buzzing. Stanley answered back with a strong take and finish, showing what D-IV opponents saw all year - a polished inside-outside game.

Then O'Brien started to assert himself offensively, with a nice drive and finish on the secondary break. Then in the half court he took his man off the dribble. The momentum continued to build for D-III, as Jackson Morton (Sanborn) drove to the rim, using a euro-step move and then finishing for an and-1.

The fast paced action continued as James Fitzgerald (Sunapee) hit a 3 to cut the D-III lead to 17-12. Stanley had another strong take and finish on the break, and then D-IV teammate Zach Knowlton (Profile) hit a 3 as D-IV was more than holding their own early on.

Right after Knowlton's 3, Morton answered right back with a shot of his own from long distance. Nick Bouchard (Colebrook) made a nice post move and turnaround bank shot inside, but then D-III again answered back as Kyle Kosiorek (Mascoma) made a nice pass to a teammate for a layup. Johnson is a scrappy player, and his 3 cut the D-III lead to just 6, 36-30.

But then at the end of the 1st half the D-III All-Stars increased their lead as Prince put on a show, hitting not 1 but 3 shots from beyond the arc. He was hitting shots that were off balanced, shots from way behind the 3-point line, and he was making it look easy. It was 42-30 at halftime in favor of D-III.

The offensive display continued in the 2nd half, as Nichols hit a turnaround bank shot. Sam Leahy (Newmarket) drove to the rim for an and-1 as D-IV was hanging tough. Again though it was that combo of O'Brien and Prince, as O'Brien made a nice skip pass over to Prince who hit yet another 3, this one from the left corner. Bouchard answered back for D-IV with a strong move inside for an and-1 put-back.

That's when the D-III team really started to pull away. Jake Nelson (Hopkinton) hit a pull-up jumper, Morton hit another 3, and after a nice finish on the break by Fitzgerald O'Brien showed a killer crossover dribble to create space, into a smooth pull-up jumper from the elbow. A great move by O'Brien, and it had the crowd buzzing.

O'Brien was able to get one more win in a Conant uniform, and he did it while playing alongside high school teammate Eli Hodgson and with Conant head coach Eric Saucier coaching both of them. Nelson meanwhile is built like an ox, it's too bad they don't have football at Hopkinton because I'm sure he would be a beat on the gridiron!

Even with his team down, Stanley kept battling out there. He made a nice dish to Joe Abrahamsen (Woodsville) for a layup. Then Stanley missed a free throw, grabbed his own rebound and then finished strong for an and-1.

Meanwhile O'Brien continued to impress, blocking a shot on defense and then leading the break the other way. He pushed it up the floor and made a nice dish to Nichols fr a layup. Then O'Brien used that move again, another killer crossover dribble right into a pull-up jumper. He's got that move down, and it's tough to defend. Stanley answered with a step-back 3.

Final score, 97-65 with D-III coming out on top. Here are the rosters for both teams...

Division III All-Stars
Robert O'Brien (Conant)
Isaiah Prince (Monadnock)
Gabe Nichols (Hopkinton)
Jackson Morton (Sanborn)
Kyle Kosiorek (Mascoma)
Jake Nelson (Hopkinton)
Eli Hodgson (Conant)
Carter Noordsij (Kearsarge)
Ryan Tanguay (Stevens)
Brad Frenette (Berlin)
Logan LaRoche (Prospect Mountain)
Nick Burns (Fall Mountain)

Division IV All-Stars
Bailey Johnson (Profile)
Jimmy Stanley (Epping)
James Fitzgerald (Sunapee)
Nick Bouchard (Colebrook)
Zach Knowlton (Profile)
Sam Leahy (Newmarket)
Joe Abrahamsen (Woodsville)
Max Anderson (Derryfield)
Owen Stone (Littleton)
Aaron Davis (Moultonborough)
Kyle Boisselle (Gorham)
Kris Perkins (Pittsfield)

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