Monday, February 16, 2015

New Hampton Beats #2 Ranked Notre Dame Prep

As part of Sunday afternoon's Frank Monahan Foundation Basketball Showcase, the New Hampton School Huskies beat the #2 ranked team in the country, Notre Dame Prep 77-66. New Hampton got off to a strong start, leading 32-12 halfway through the 1st half. The Huskies are a very big team, with a starting lineup that goes 6'11", 6'8", 6'7", 6'6" and 6'2", plus a 6'10" kid coming off the bench. Their length was definitely a factor and they were also very active on defense, and as a result Notre Dame struggled to score in the 1st half and dug themselves into a 20 point deficit.

New Hampton is loaded with talent, including 5 kids who will be playing D-I college ball next year. They have Tyler Lydon (Syracuse), AJ Turner (Boston College), John Crosby (Dayton), Jeremy Miller (Northeastern) and Max Rothschild (Pennsylvania). Each of them scored in double figures, led by Turner with 16.

The game-high scorer was Notre Dame senior Jerry Johnson who really heated up in the 2nd half en route to 26 points. The other player in double figures for Notre Dame was post-grad guard Patrick Welch (Epsom, NH) who poured in 14. Welch showed many of the same attributes that made him a star at Pembroke Academy, including his blazing speed, killer crossover dribble, knock down shooting and underrated defense. Except now Welch was producing against much tougher competition than he faced in the NHIAA. Welch is undecided for next year, but has at least six D-I/D-II offers.

There has been a lot of talk in NH basketball circles regarding prep school over the past few years. Specifically, is it the right move for a local NH kid to leave his NHIAA school for the prep ranks or not. However many of the people advocating for kids to stay in the NHIAA have never even seen a prep school game. Likewise, many of the people who are pushing these kids to go to prep school don't see much, if any NHIAA basketball. That's why (in addition to raising money for charity of course) this event was such a good idea. You had both NHIAA and prep school games being played on the same day, in the same gym. You had 2 of the top teams in NHIAA's Division II Lebanon vs. Bishop Brady) sandwiched between a pair of prep school games. The first game was national powerhouse Brewster Academy vs Lee Academy, which is the school that the Bell brothers Jourdain and Joe left to return to Bishop Brady. The other prep school game featured #2 ranked nationally Notre Dame Prep (with local stars Patrick Welch and Jordan Williams) vs. a New Hampton team with 5 D-I college commits (also the school that Zach Bergeon left to return to Campbell High). And if it wasn't for the snow, fans would have also been able to see Proctor Academy, which features a pair of local sophomores are a potential D-I college prospects in point guard Caleb Green (Londonderry, NH) and wing Tschiefu Ngalakulondi (Manchester, NH).

I'm glad that despite the snow, there was a packed house for all 3 games so many fans could become more educated when it comes to the difference between the NHIAA game and the prep game. First off, the prep school teams play with a shot clock. They play a faster game, it's more physical and the size of the players (both in height and physique) is dramatically different than what you see in the NHIAA. People who only watch NHIAA hoops probably don't realize just how good you have to be in order to see the floor in the NEPSAC. Jordan Williams was a man among boys in last year's NHIAA D-II Final Four, but against New Hampton on Sunday he played 3 minutes and scored 0 points.

Alright, back to the New Hampton vs. Notre Dame game. Both teams shot well early on. Notre Dame senior guard Winston Morgan hit a pair of 3's, while Lydon hit a 3 of his own followed by a turnaround hook shot. Turner buried a 3 and then drove to the rim for and-1 bank shot leaner. Johnson converted a strong and-1 in transition.

It was 17-12 New Hampton, but Turner hit another 3, this one off the catch from the left wing. Then the Huskies scored 15 unanswered points to take a commanding 32-12 lead. Turner started the run with another 3, this one off the catch from the left wing. Rothschild converted a layup off a good dish by Crosby. Crosby grabbed a steal and made the layup on the other end. Senior wing Bradley Jomard hit a 3 to to cap the run.

Welch stopped the bleeding by hitting a step-back jumper from 15-feet along the baseline. Then Welch drove and connected on a tough leaner. Turner hit another 3 for New Hampton. Junior forward Chris Baldwin gave NDP a spark, catching an offensive rebound and while still in mid-air flushed down a 2 handed slam. Miller made a nice weak side block, and it was 43-23 Huskies at halftime.

Notre Dame was more in sync in the 2nd half, and more of their shots started to fall. New Hampton's lead was never in doubt in the 2nd half, but at least NDP made it respectable. Welch came off a screen, got the ball and drained a 3 off the dribble. Then he drove to the rim for a double-pump finish to hit the shot while faking out the defender.

Miller buried a 3 (that's right a 6-foot-10 kid, who didn't even start for New Hampton, hit a 3). Then Lydon grabbed a loose ball and slammed down a 2-hand jam. Miller then slammed down a 2-handed dunk of his own, as the Huskies continued to lead big, 60-42 with 10:15 left in the 2nd half.

Notre dame Prep head coach Ryan Hurd received his second technical foul for arguing with officials and was tossed from the gym. Johnson was on fire in the 2nd half, hitting three 3-pointers for Notre Dame to help get the score closer. Miller made a nice block, followed by a nice block on the other end by Baldwin (both big guys are former AAU teammates with the Rivals Basketball Club). Welch buried another 3 off the dribble, cutting the New Hampton lead to 72-61 with 2:38 remaining. The Huskies cruised from there for the 77-66 victory.

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