Saturday, March 15, 2014

Portsmouth Keeps Their Cool, Edges Lebanon in D-II Semis

When the pressure is on, the crowd is loud, the game is on the line and emotions run high sometimes things get heated on the court. When that happens it's important to keep your cool out there. Lebanon had a 35-31 lead on Portsmouth in the 4th quarter of their Division II semi-final match up on Friday night, and with 2:04 left to play they were only down 42-40. But then Lebanon got called for a technical foul and an intentional foul, and Portsmouth went on to win 49-43.

"People get technical fouls mostly because they perceive that they're being treated unfairly and then behave poorly and that's what happened" said Lebanon head coach Keith Matte.

The technical happened when the ball clearly went out of bounds off Portsmouth, but the official gave possession back to Portsmouth. Lebanon senior ic Shepard was livid and received the technical. Lebanon got the ball back, trailing 43-40. They were called for an illegal screen. After a series of free throws by the Glynn brothers Pat and Joey, Portsmouth extended their lead to 47-40. Dominick Morrill (11 points) hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 47-43. Lebanon tried to foul, and Raiders wing Austin Whaley fouled Clippers junior Charlie Lehoux near the scorer's table. Lehoux fell to the floor (it looked like a harder foul than it was), players from both teams got up in each other's face near half court, had to be separated from each other and Whaley was called for an intentional foul.

"What we don't want to do is retaliate" said Portsmouth head coach Jim Mulvey. "We preach toughness. But toughness isn't pushing someone, it's doing the right thing at the right time."

Other than all of the melee at the end this was a great game. Portsmouth jumped out to an 9-0 lead in the 1st quarter with a series of easy layups and then Joey Glynn converted a put-back to make it 11-0 Clippers. With 1:45 left in the 1st Lebanon still hadn't scored a point and it looked like this was going to be a blowout.

But give Lebanon credit for fighting back. Gage scored inside followed by tip-ins by Pelletier and Gradijan and the Raiders were back in it only trailing 11-6 after 1.

Lebanon continued to play well, going on a 16-4 run. 3 of their best players were in foul trouble (Morrill, Shepard and Kalin Sou) but other guys like Gage, Pelletier, Gradijan, Whaley, KJ Matte and John Cioffredi were stepping up.

"We couldn't have stayed in it without all 9 guys" commented Coach Matte, who is the father of freshman guard KJ Matte.

Morrill made a nice move to the rim, hit a shot in the lane and put Lebanon on top for the first time, 14-13 with 4:15 left in the 2nd quarter. The Raiders had 14 points and 6 different players had scored. Gradijan hit a floater off a steal, and Matte hit a tough baseline jumper after taking contact as he drove. Lebanon went up 24-16, and t halftime they led 24-18.

"At some points we were being outworked by them" said Pat Glynn. "They made it tough for us to score, and all 5 of their guys were crashing the boards."

Portsmouth trailed 27-19 in the 3rd quarter after a long jumper by Shepard, but then the Clippers battled back. They closed to within 33-29 after 3, and then Phanor hit a clutch 3-pointer in the 4th to cut the lead to 35-34. Then Morrill and Nick Mackey went back-and-forth trading big shot after big shot as the teams exchanged the lead. Mackey hit a jumper to put the Clippers on top for good, 41-40 with 3:10 left in regulation.

"It's a feeling of satisfaction, knowing we're going back to UNH" said Phanor.

Portsmouth will take on Pembroke in the finals on Saturday afternoon.

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