Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spartans Fall Classic - Boys Tourney Recap

Yes it's football season, but this past weekend at the RIM sports complex in Hampton was on of the region's biggest tournaments of the fall AAU season. It was the Spartans Fall Classic, run by the NH Spartans.

There was 49 girls teams and 40 boys teams, ranging from grade 3-12. Some good competition, players really getting after it out there, and lots of local talent on display (particularly on the girls side). The New Hampshire Notebook was in the house on both Saturday and Sunday to cover the action and scout the NH prospects.

We begin our coverage with the boys tournament, where Mass Elite ran away with the championship in the 10th/11th grade division. Mass Elite crushed the CC Bulldogs 83-41 and in the finals they beat the Gladiators 65-36. Mass Elite was led all weekend by the dynamic back court duo of D.J. Frechette (Nashua High South) and Ryan Veguilla (Bishop Fenwick).

Mass Elite 10th Grade Squad Dominated the Tourney
Mass Elite has a very strong team. They push the tempo, always looking to fast break and move the ball quickly up the floor with the pass. They move the ball well on offense, attack the rim and can hit shots. They play tough, pressure defense and crash the boards. It's a fundamentally sound group, they play hard, team basketball - a fun team to watch. They're coached by Danny Frechette (D.J. Frechette's father).

Frechette and Veguilla (a quick, scrappy, tough, skilled 5'10" combo-guard) play off each other very well. Both can handle the ball and defend. Frechette can really shoot while Veguilla creates off the dribble. Adding to this dangerous back court was 5'7" Tyler Leclerc from Groton-Dunstable High, who is tough as nails, defends the heck out of people and stroke it from the outside. Mass Elite got production from a host of other players, including 6'5" forward Justin Connolly from St. John's Prep and a pair of local NH kids in freshman guard Richie Mercado (Nashua, NH) and sophomore forward Trey Carrier (Wilton, NH).

Most people probably anticipated a closer championship game when MA Elite went up against the Gladiators. Both teams played the CC Bulldogs earlier in the day and both beat them by 30+ points. It was the last game of a long weekend of basketball for both teams, but Mass Elite had more gas left in the tank. They had more size, depth, they hit shots, they executed better and they moved the ball better. That's why they won.

The Gladiators have a solid team, led by lights out shooter William Beard, a 6'2" sophomore wing for Lawrence High. They also have a couple of freshmen to watch out for over the next few years in Anthony Buckley (Whittier Tech) and Armando Marinez (Central Catholic).

Keene Has Bright Future
Keene High has struggled in basketball for many years now, but there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. The CC Bulldogs AAU squad is made which played at this past weekend's tourney is comprised of freshmen and sophomores from Keene. The team had a strong showing, going 2-2. And even though their 2 losses were blowouts, let's be fair here. The CC Bulldogs are all kids from one town. The Mass Elite team they played is an all-star team with kids from about 8 different cities, from all over MA and NH. The Gladiators team they lost to is kids from the Lawrence/Haverhill/Methuen area. Both teams have a far bigger pool of kids to choose from than the Keene team does. Both teams are faster and more skilled than most of the teams the Keene kids will face in the NHIAA. When you put it in perspective, it was a strong showing for the CC Bulldogs. Not only that, but the CC Bulldogs won both of their games on Saturday in blowouts. Facing this kind of competition is good for the Keene kids and will prepare them well for the rigors of D-I basketball this winter.

The CC Bulldogs were led by the trio of freshman guard Jake Blaisdell, sophomore forward Dylan Grover and sophomore guard Logan Galanes. Blaisdell is one of the top freshman players in the state. He's a competitor, he can play the 1 or the 2. Blaisdell and Galanes compliment each other well in the back court. Both kids can shoot the basketball or take it to the rim. At times this weekend opponent's focused too much on stopping Blaisdell and when they did Galanes made them pay. And on the inside you have

Goldstein, Galanes and Grover (The 3 G's) can all score in double figures, but they also look for each other on the court and play unselfishly. On the wing you have Tucker Lawrence (5'10" sophomore), a very good spot up shooter. You can't leave Lawrence open and he is a scrappy player who knows his role on this team and plays it well. Both Blaisdell and Galanes have the ability to gt into the lane off the bounce and make the defense collapse. When that happens they look for Lawrence for kick-outs. Another guy who has a specific role on this team and plays it well is Bo Drake-Deese (6'2" sophomore forward). Drake-Deese is their low post guy who rebounds, defends, sets picks and does all the dirty work inside.

Watch out for all 5 of these guys in the coming years. It just may be the group that puts Keene basketball back on the map.

Now, here's a look at the top local prospects at this weekend's tournament...

Class of 2017
D.J. Frechette, 6'1" Guard Nashua High South - MVP of the tournament on the boys side. Our first look at Frechette was opening night of the high school basketball season last year for South vs. Spaulding when he was only a 5'9" freshman and only played about 5 minutes off the bench. Now it's not even a year later and Frechette is 6'1" and has blossomed into one of the top 10 sophomore players in the state. This past weekend he scored the basketball in bunches and in a variety of ways. He exploded to the rim, for some athletic finishes in transition, he was on fire from the outside and took his man off the dribble. He also showed the ability to drive into the lane and dish it off to teammates for buckets. He hit back to back threes off the catch to ice the championship for his team.

Dylan Grover, 6'3 Forward, Keene HS - A face-up four, Grover is fearless and won't back down from anyone inside. A versatile player who can battle inside for buckets and boards or step outside to defend or put the ball on the floor and take it strong to the rim. Grover is a tenacious rebounder, and if he misses a shot will go all out to get the rebound. Runs the floor well and can finish on the break. Had a number of strong and-1 finishes inside, even when going up against bigger defenders.

Logan Galanes, 5'11" Guard, Keene HS - A smart, tough, fundamentally sound combo-guard. Goldstein usually ran the point but Galanes was comfortable at the 1 as well. Keeps head up while dribbling, sees whole floor. Made a number of strong drives to the rim, either scoring the bucket (sometimes scoring on 2 defenders) or drawing the foul. Had a nice series against Gladiators with an and-1 leaner, then a strong drive and nice dish to a teammate for a layup and on the next trip down hit a spot-up 3.

Trey Carrier, 6'3" Forward, Wilton-Lyndeborough HS - A solid role player for a very good Mass Elite team, Carrier showed good length, athleticism and a versatile skill set. He went up strong with shots inside, ran the floor and finished on the break and also rebounded well.

Class of 2018
Jake Blaisdell, 6'1" Guard, Keene HS - Tough kid, plays hard on both ends. Never stops competing, regardless of the score. Can hit shots in bunches from the outside with a compact stroke and quick release or take it to the rim with good slashing and finishing ability and also can hit the mid-range pull-up jumper. He's only a freshman but Blaisdell already has a strong build, especially for a guard. Handles the ball well, even against intense defensive pressure, while keeping head up and seeing whole floor. Physical tools and leadership you rarely see in a freshman. Had a nice tip-in off a teammate's missed FT, and then just seconds later made a strong drive and finish at the halftime buzzer. In a win on Saturday caught fire by hitting three 3-pointers in a row.

Richie Mercado, 6'0" Guard, Nashua High South - came off the bench to provide solid depth to the Mass Elite back court. Mercado is a quick, athletic two-guard who made some strong drives to the rim, beating his man off the dribble to get to the rim or hitting a mid-range pull-up. On one of those drives he got hit hard in the face but came right back in the came moments later, which showed good toughness. Mercado was effective in the transition game and played tough defense.

Our girls tournament recap will be posted later this week...

1 comment:

  1. I was at this tournament and found the level of play to be exceptional from all of the teams mentioned here. MA Elite was clearly the class of the tournament. Poor CC Bulldogs didn't stand a chance, especially since they had to play MA Elite in the second game of a back to back while MA Elite was fresh. MA Elite would have thrashed them regardless, but I think it would have been somewhat more competitive. Since everyone will likely take Keene lightly this year, I could see them pulling some upsets. They may not be especially tall, but they have a lot of size and strength at every position for such a young group. I think the combo of Grover and Drake-Deese will be a formidable pair handng out a lot of bruises over the next few years. They will not be as easy a "W" as most will think. The Gladiators were extremely athletic and quick, but MA Elite was more disciplined and polished in their approach to the game. They displayed great team fundamentals while the Gladiators imploded when things didn't go their way. They have a lot of raw talent, but lack a collective focus. Looking forward to the upcoming season based on what I am seeing from the area players.