First off, congratulations to both Conant and Sunapee girls basketball for their undefeated championship seasons. Both teams were heavy favorites in the preseason and throughout the season. Both teams had a target on their back, getting everyone's best game. With all of that pressure for them to go undefeated is very impressive.
Conant won the title game by 20+, and they did it against a Gilford team which was also undefeated coming into the season. That definitely deserves recognition. Both Conant and Gilford are loaded with underclassmen, so don't be surprised if it's the same two teams in the final next year (although Pelham also has a lot coming back).
The Conant girls became the latest team to win a title with a father coaching his daughter to a championship. Coe-Brown has a chance to do it as well. They enter the Final Four undefeated and as the favorites in D-II, with star player Jenny Schlim and her father John Schlim is the assistant coach. Others who have done it in recent years are head coach Dave Huckins and daughter Cassidy Huckins at Merrimack Valley, head coach Terry Bonnette and daughter Skylar Bonnette at Hinsdale in 2014, in 2013 it was head coach Tim Kehoe and daughter Emily Kehoe win D-II at Lebanon and in 2012 it was assistant coach Mike Curtis and daughter Payton Curtis at White Mountains Regional winning D-III.
As for Sunapee, they continue a trend - it's the third time in the last 4 years that we have had an undefeated state champion in Division IV girls basketball. The others were Hinsdale in 2014 and Littleton in 2012. Sunapee may be the best of the bunch though, as they have 3 legit college prospects in senior forward Anna Richards, junior guard Lexie Hamilton and sophomore forward Katie Frederick. Plus they have sophomore guard Sydney Clark and senior wing Faith Larpenter. You could have all 5 starters end up playing college ball, which is unheard of for a D-IV team.
In D-I girls it's Winnacunnet vs. Londonderry in the title game on Friday night, a rematch of the 2011 finals, won by Winnacunnet. That was the Warriors fifth title in a row. No matter who wins this game it will be a great story. Either way you have a coach winning their first championship after replacing a legend. Londonderry head coach Nick Theos is in his first year after replacing John Fagula, while Winnacunnet's Cassie Turcotte is in her third year post-Ed Beattie. If Winnacunnet wins it would be amazing for a #9 seed to win the tie. If Londonderry wins you have to give them credit, because their best player last year (Aliza Simpson) graduated, their second best player last year (Casey Evans) left for prep school) and their best player this year (Ashley Berube) tore her ACL in the prelims.
The girls and boys teams from Londonderry High have a combined record of 37-2 thus far this season.
Both Milford point guard Adelle Pitsas and Campbell wing Zach Bergeon this week will be starting in the Final Four at SNHU for the third year in a row. That is a very impressive achievement.
Hats off to the girls teams at both Pembroke and Goffstown, for advancing to the Final Four for the first time in a long time. Always good to see parity.
On the boys side, how about St. Thomas? The #15 seed pulled off the upset of the year by defeating #2 seed Manchester West. Congrats to the Saints for showing the rest of the state that anything is possible. Prior to that, the other 2 major upsets of the season were also in D-II boys basketball, with Merrimack Valley beating Bishop Brady and Windham defeating Portsmouth. The rest of the D-II boys tournament should definitely be fun to watch.
Anything certainly is possible, but in D-I boys it appears the four top seeds (Londonderry, Central, Pinkerton and Spaulding) are all favorites to make it to UNH. Londonderry, Central and Pinkerton are the top 3 seeds, despite the fact that all 3 teams lost a star player to prep school. Londonderry had point guard Caleb Green leave for Proctor Academy, Central Brett Hanson left for Tilton and Luke Rosinski of Pinkerton transferred to Kimball Union Academy. All 3 players are potential scholarship players, yet the NHIAA teams they left are the top 3 in D-I. That shows the depth of those programs.
Mr. Basketball and Ms. Basketball picks for NH? Right now the favorites are Cody Ball from Londonderry and Madison Springfield of Conant. We'll have more on that after the tournaments are over. We will also have other post-season awards and be releasing prospect rankings for boys/girls basketball Class of 2017 and football Class of 2016.
Lastly, we would like to say good luck to all of the teams still alive. Here's to hoping we see as little amount of zone defense as possible - it's bad enough that NH has no shot clock! And thanks to you the readers for the support!