Monday, December 28, 2015

Memorial Tops Bedford in a Physical Battle

In the 3rd place game of the 2015 Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament (QCIBT), the tournament's host team Manchester Memorial took on Bedford. It was a fast paced, physical, highly competitive contest. Memorial took an early lead and Bedford played from behind the whole way. The Crusaders took their largest lead 55-42 early in the 4th quarter and that turned out to be too big of a deficit for the Bulldogs to come back from. Memorial wins it 73-67.

The Crusaders were led by senior forward Brandon Scott (team-high 19 points), junior guard Jake Carrier (17 points) and senior guard Nick Philibert (14 points).

Bedford 6-foot-7 junior forward Colby Gendron converted a strong put-back early on. Scott answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Memorial really came out the gates playing fast and aggressive on defense, making it difficult for Bedford to run any sets or get quality looks. The Crusaders went up 9-2 early on, with 7 of those points coming from Scott.

Bedford senior point guard Justin Hayes hit a 3. Scott countered for Memorial with another strong finish inside for 2 more. The Bulldogs answered, as senior guard Brayden Moreno (12 points) connected on a pull-up jumper from the elbow. Carrie banked in a tough leaner for the Crusaders, and teammate Philibert buried a 3-pointer from the left wing. Mahmoud Gabir came off the Crusaders' bench and hit a 3 to make it 19-9 Memorial with 1:25 left in the 1st quarter. Moreno drained a 3 of his own, and it was 21-13 Memorial after 1.

Gabir hit another 3-pointer early in the 2nd quarter. Bedford senior guard Ryan Hughes (16 points) answered back with a pull-up jumper from the elbow. His teammate Troy Meservey converted an and-1 put-back to get the Bulldogs right back in the game.But then Memorial countered, as Philibert hit a 3 from the right wing and then made a pair of great defensive plays to block shots and prevent layups. It was 30-27 Memorial at halftime.

Gendron made a strong move, spinning into the lane before hitting the turnaround jumper. On the other end of the floor Scott made an up-and-under move for an and-1 finish. On a set baseline out of bounds play, Hughes drained a 3-pointer for Bedford to cut the Memorial lead to 33-32.

That's when Memorial really started to run and get points on the board, as they went on a 19-8 run in the span of just a few minutes. Philibert slashed to the rim for 2. Teammate Paul Rodolf hit a 3 from the top of the key. Bedford answered, as Moreno showed good quickness off the dribble to get to the rim and make the finger roll. On the next trip down Hughes buried another 3. But then Carrie scrapped for a tough offensive rebound and put-back, then he hit a baseline floater and then Carrier again hustled for a loose ball and put it back in for 2 more.

Sophomore guard Michael Roumraj grabbed a steal for Memorial and took it hard to the rim for an athletic finish. That made it 46-38 Crusaders. Gendron kept battling inside to keep Bedford in it, as he showed good tenacity on another put-back. Memorial countered, as Lubin cut to the bucket, catching a pass in stride and laying it in with no help side defender coming over for Bedford - that basket came way too easy. Carrier made another nice take and finish, making it 52-40 Crusaders with 1:00 left in the 3rd quarter. It was 52-42 Memorial after 3.

The Crusaders extended their lead to 13, 55-42 on a 3 by Roumraj early in the 4th quarter (their largest lead of the game). Scott used one power dribble to get into the lane and hit a tough floater. Gendron (game-high 22 points) kept battling hard inside to keep the Bulldogs in it. He bulled his way to the rim for 2 more. On the next trip down the floor Gendron scored another tough bucket inside, and finished strong inside again on the possession after that. Carrier answered for Memorial, converting a put-back just seconds later to push the Crusaders lead back into double digits, 61-50.

Hughes drained a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 63-53. Then Lubin was called for a technical foul, and Hughes connected on both technical free throws. Carrier slashed to the rim for 2 more. Hayes left the game injured with 2:00 left in the 4th quarter. Gendron continued his dominant performance with an and-1 put-back, and after a layup by Meservey the Memorial lead was cut to 65-60 with 1:20 remaining.

Philibert continued to be one of the top defenders in the gym, pressuring the ball, knocking it away and forcing a key turnover. Gendron kept the Bulldogs alive with another and-1 put-back. Hughes buried an 18-footer off the bounce to cut the Crusaders lead to 70-67. But there wasn't enough time left for Bedford to get anymore points, Memorial added a few free throws and hangs on for the 73-67 victory.

Look for both Memorial and Bedford to be tough teams in D-I. They'll both likely be in the middle of the pack, but with D-I being so wide open this year they could beat anybody on any given night.

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