Monday, January 5, 2015

West Over Goffstown in D-II Clash

Goffstown made a statement on Friday night when they beat Lebanon (one of the favorites in D-II) in a landslide. On Monday night it was Manchester West who made the statement, overcoming a 12-point deficit to beat Goffstown 59-45. West got off to a slow start, as Goffstown packed into a zone to take away the paint and force the Blue Knights to shoot 3's. West made 2 of their first 11 shots from downtown and meanwhile Goffstown was playing more disciplined basketball.

The Grizzlies went on a 15-3 run in the 1st half to take a 20-8 lead, led by the duo of senior point guard Marcus Haynes and junior forward Tim Comeau. But then West made their comeback, as they started to play better defense and did a better job of attacking the rim. Senior wing Zach Jones (scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the 2nd half) and Monytung Maker (scored 8 of his 14 points in the 2nd half) took over as the game went on, as West scored a whopping 22 points in the 4th quarter to break it open.

"The biggest key was running and transition" said Jones, who also grabbed 8 rebounds in addition to his 22 points. "We lost to Lebanon in preseason, so when we heard Goffstown beat Lebanon it got us even more pumped for this game.

Sophomore guard Jacobee Burpee hit a floater to start the 2nd half to put the Blue Knights ahead 25-24. That was West's first lead of the game and they did not relinquish it.

"We've been working on our defense and we got some big stops" said Maker, who had a pair of key blocked shots in the 2nd half coming over from the weak side. "I had a slow start but got going more in the 2nd half

"We picked up our defensive intensity in the 2nd half" added Jones.

In the 1st half the combination of Haynes and Comeau outscored Jones and Maker 22-12, but in the 2nd half Maker and Jones outscored Comeau/Haynes by a differential of 24-5.

West also had more supporting players step up. Junior forward Keenan Caron chipped in with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Junior guard Joe Simpson had a pivotal and-1 finish on the break in the 2nd quarter which ignited the West comeback and in the 3rd quarter made a great hustle play to dive on the floor for a steal and then call timeout. Burpee hit the floater that gave the Blue Knights their first lead and later in the 3rd quarter he hit a clutch 3. Senior guard Corey Descoteaux made a great move in transition during West's big 4th quarter, pushing the ball and then making a nice spin move into the lane before hitting a floater to make it 48-42.

West had problems early on with the Goffstown 2-3 zone. The Blue Knights first possession of the game last 1 minute and 35 seconds long - and they still didn't score.

"Teams usually play zone against us because if you try to guard us 5-on-5 we'll fight a mismatch somewhere" explained Manchester West head coach Danny Bryson. "But with the way we started out you would have thought we had never seen a zone before. We were settling for 3's. Then I put Motu (Maker) in and we started getting the ball inside more."

Then once West built a 2nd half lead the Grizzlies were forced to come out of their zone to try and pressure the ball, force to some quick shots and get the ball back. Goffstown had to try and speed the game up to make a comeback, but that played right into West's hands because they're the better transition team and Goffstown couldn't guard West 1-on-1. Specifically it was Jones who really started to go off once the Grizzlies went man-to-man. After Mike Bailey hit a 3-pointer for Goffstown to cut the West lead to 48-45 with 2:52 left, Jones took over. Seeing the Grizzlies playing man-to-man his eyes lit up, as he broke his man down off the dribble on back-to-back possessions. On the first one he made a good spin move in the lane before finishing with his right hand and on the next trip down he blew past his man and finished at the rim with his left hand. Just like that the West lead went from 3 to 7, as they went up 52-45 with 2:00 left in the 4th quarter.

The Blue Knights continued to roll from there, as Comeau fouled out, Maker hit a pair of free throws and then West got another steal followed by an and-1 finish by Maker. Maker then grabbed a steal and threw it over to Jones who took it strong to the rim for a layup and the icing on the cake.

Haynes and Comeau were instrumental in the hot start for the Grizzlies. Haynes was controlling the tempo at the point, hitting 3's and hitting floaters off the bounce. Comeau was dominating the paint, muscling people on the low block and showing good footwork for buckets and rebounds. Comeau scored an inside bucket late in the 1st, as Goffstown led 17-8 after 1 and then Haynes buried a 3 ball to start the 2nd quarter to give them a 20-8 lead (their largest lead of the game).

In the 2nd quarter West picked up their defensive intensity and started getting out in transition. Simpson got the run started with his and-1 on the break, Maker finished a layup in transition followed quickly by an and-1 finish on the break by Jones. Maker then had an and-1 finish of his own, as West closed the 2nd quarter on a 15-4 run. Goffstown led 24-23 lead at halftime.

Junior wing Robert Girardin had a strong 2nd half for Goffstown, scoring all 9 of his points. Girardin had some strong drives, either finishing at the rim or hitting the floater.

West is now 2-1 in D-II, while Goffstown falls to 1-2.

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