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By: Tuesday and Friday
Before I get into my mid-season thoughts, here is an important update on Reggie from Milford. He was NOT in attendance at Milford last Friday in their 76 – 63 victory over Coe-Brown. Word has it Reggie was spending kind of a Godfather/Soprano’s lifestyle in the trunk of a Milford student. There is a rumor Reggie will make the trip on Friday February 5th for Milford’s big rivalry game at Souhegan. There is fear in the Milford camp over the health of Reggie at the Saber gym. The potential is high Reggie could come back in 3 sections……. Stay tuned.
I’m starting off with the girls as they don’t receive anywhere near the amount of publicity the boys do. Senior Meg Knollmeyer of Winnacunnet is the best pure Big in NH…… And that includes boys or girls. She is an “old school” Big. Drop steps, turn around paint shots and nice foot work backs me up on my statement. There are a lot of boy Bigs who could learn something from watching Knollmeyer operate in the paint. There are some AAU coaches who could learn something from watching Knollmeyer operate in the paint. Instead of a lot of boy Bigs lazily operating around the 3 point arc, if they would woman (man) up and take lessons from the potential POY Knollmeyer, they might be more productive for their team and themselves in the W column.
Amanda Gaudreault and Devin Lacroix are putting some nice senior exclamation points on their careers at Central this season. As I like to refer to them as Pig Tail 1 (Amanda) and Pig Tail 2 (Devin), they are helping lead the Little Green to another exciting season. Even though Central is currently in 9th place with a 5 – 5 record they have had a few close losses and could easily be an 8 – 2 team and in the top 4. Gaudreault, a 5’11 senior, is having an all-state season. She is a hybrid forward/center who is tough to match up against. She can take another Big out from the hoop and quickly dribble by and finish or knock down the FTs after a foul. Lacroix’s pig tail is almost as tall as her body, but one thing that is biggest, not listed in any program is her heart. She doesn’t wow you with stats, but has spent her whole career leading the Little Green in the intangible department. Securing 50/50 balls, drawing a charge, nice assists and running the show for Coach Mike Wenners is what the dimunitive Pig Tail 2 is all about. To add to their fine careers, I will also submit that Pig Tail 1 and Pig Tail 2 should be leading candidates for the Sportsmanship award in D1 Girls.
When you look at the standings in D1 girls a lot of things look right. The Top 5 looks consistent and what most prognosticators had in pre-season. Alvirne and North just outside the cusp…. Makes sense. Memorial and Central battling for a home prelim game…. Check mark. The one team that sticks out is Merrimack. They are currently in 8th with a 6 – 6 record. Coach Courtney Cheetham has done a great job with the Lady Tomahawks this season. Merrimack didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season and here they are in 8th. They don’t have an easy last 6 games, but if they go 3 -3, they could potentially host a prelim game. If this happens it becomes a no brainer to give the D1 Girl’s COY to Courtney Cheetham.
There are no power teams in D1 girls. Even though the majority of the prelim games, outside of the 8-9, 7-10, and 6-11 matchups, should go as planned….. The quarterfinal games should all be close games. This could be the season teams with crooked seed numbers end up in the Final Four at SNHU. Even though Trinity is floundering at 3 – 8, I just feel it in my basketball bones Coach Gibbs’ squad is either due for some signature wins or a winning streak. Future all-state Memorial sophomore Haleigh Shea is maturing and becoming more diplomatic on the court. Good job Coach Gundy !! Friendly reminder Mike Wenners is the defending COY in girl’s D1 (Insert smily face). I’m picking Bedford to finish 5th. Are you happy now Coach Sue Thomas? (Insert bigger smily face)….Inside thing.
Turning to the Boy’s side…… There is no doubt this is the most up for grab title in many a year. I honestly think there are 12 teams that could hoist the big plaque at UNH. I also think any one of 15 teams could make it to the final four. There easily could be a team or two like North from last season that could sneak into the final four. There are no power teams or heads above shoulder teams in D1. There is just scratching and clawing night in and night out. BG is in 12th and has wins over Merrimack and Central. Londonderry is in 11th and they have wins over Exeter and Merrimack. Salem is in 15th. Even though the Blue Devils haven’t played up to pre-season projections, if you’re a Top 4 seed do you really feel comfortable drawing Salem in the prelim game? My perennial COY Rob Mac can still coach em up and I have a feeling Salem will be a team “nobody wants to play” in the playoffs.
So, there are a lot of Jekyll and Hyde teams. There are crazy swings of winning and losing margins in the same week. You never know what to expect in D1 boys and this makes for a lot of excitement come playoff time. I think Pinkerton is the best team right now. An 18 point victory over Central, 12 point victory over Memorial and a 21 point victory over North is good enough evidence for me. They have the best starting 5 of any team in D1. They pose matchup problems for a lot of teams. They have senior leadership. They have all the ingredients to make it back to the Championship game, but have a turnaround from last season. Rizzo, Morris and Romick are steady solid. These 3 will make either 1st or 2nd team all-state. If Olson stays out of foul trouble Pinkerton is a dangerous team. Their bench is not great, but good enough to patch some holes during any game.
Memorial, once again, is a team that can beat anybody by 10 to 15 points or lose to anybody by 10 to 15 points. The Crusaders need a point guard who knows how to control tempo and settle things down when the Quick Quirk-sters start going haywire on the court. Memorial can get away in some games without a true point guard, but in others they are like a speed boat hitting docks and rocks on the basketball waters. They need a rudder if they want to do some damage in the playoffs.
COY candidates so far in D1 boys? I have Mark Elmendorf at the top of my list right now. Bedford had a funky start to their season beating Londonderry and then only scoring 26 points in a loss to Merrimack. They’ve won 6 in a row and are tied for 2nd with Merrimack. The Bulldogs’ next 4 games are against Memorial, Central, North and Pinkerton. These 4 games will define Bedford’s season and Coach Elmendorf’s COY chances. Just behind in the COY chase are Tim Goodridge of Merrimack and Jeff Holmes of Exeter. Goody has Merrimack once again in another solid season with no real POY candidates. It seems like everything is by committee for the Tomahawks. Exeter shot out of nowhere to win the QCIBT and turn some pundits’ heads. They are tied for 4th with a slew of teams as of this writing. Those slew of teams were supposed to be there in pre-season. Exeter wasn’t, so Coach Holmes gets mid-season COY recognition.
Mid-season all state. 1st team: Morris of Pinkerton, Holmes of Exeter, Hale of North, Leroy of Central and Frechette of South. 2nd team: Romick and Rizzo of Pinkerton, Walsh of Trinity, Coleman of Londonderry and Giroux of Concord. Picking Giroux of 17th place Concord for 2nd team?..... Absolutely because he deserves it. Night in and night out he usually is covered by one of the best defensive players on the opposition. He’s the 6th leading scorer in D1. Put him on your all state teams coaches, Please !!
In D2 we know about the Big 3: Portsmouth, West, Lebanon and Plus 1 Brady, but Milford is quietly having an impressive season. They are 7 – 1 and in sole possession of 5th place. They have an intriguing team. They can score in bunches and have a 6’4 Bosnian bringing the ball up against pressure most times. Palladino can shoot and Banuskevich can score. Dan Murray has them playing high octane ball. This is the best Milford team since the Big 3’s back to back titles of 5 years ago. Don’t forget, Reggie could be an X factor for the Spartan’s 2nd half fortunes.
Portsmouth doesn’t play Lebanon during the regular season? Ridiculous. I guess D2 hoop fans will just have to look forward to the big one, Lebanon at West, on Saturday February 13th at 7:00 pm.
Junior Joey Glynn of Portsmouth is the best pure Big in D2. He does what an “old school” Big should do. He muscles the paint and gets his hands dirty and gets his points by out working other Bigs. West’s Keenan Caron spent December in the comfort zone of the 3 point arc. He has moved down into the paint in January. If he continues to do this, West will make the final four. If not, then you’ll see a head scratching result similar to their St. Thomas prelim loss last season. Joe Bell has done a nice job coming out from the shadow of his older brother this season. Speaking of Bell, the D2 Boys’ POY is a 3 player race right now: Bell, Graham of Portsmouth and Matte of Lebanon.
COY in D2? The top 4 teams are “who we thought they were going to be.” At this point I’m thinking Dan Murray, Cole Etten and Souhegan’s Peter Pierce are strong candidates. I know the Timberlane coaching staff is working their tails off. The Owls have some tough losses, including 3 point losses to Windham and West along with a tough 5 point loss to Hollis/B. Timberlane could easily be in the Top 6 of D2 with a different bounce here and there. Something tells me you won’t want to meet up with the Owls in the 2nd week of March.
Weirdest happening in the first half of the season: On January 15th Newport was losing to Conant 88 to 35 in the final seconds. A Newport player hit a 3 at the buzzer to get the losing margin to 50 at 88 to 38. The Newport student body STORMED THE COURT as if the final buzzer beating 3 won the game for them….. Weird and funny all in the same sentence. If one of those Newport court storming students were smart they should’ve taped the student 50 point loss storming and sent it to ESPN. It could’ve made the ESPN Top10……. Or Bottom 10 for that day.
If you read or listen to the NH Sportspage then West’s Joe Simpson (24) and Connor Walsh (37) are a combined 61 years old. These 2 were in their combined 50s in December, but NHSP has matured the 2 “old” looking players and now have them in their combined 60s. The Pembroke/Portsmouth divisional switch can’t come soon enough with both teams having perfect records after 10 games, but in opposite directions.
Mark the following dates for terrible conflicts, if you are a hoop fan:
Wednesday March 9th: D1 Boys’ prelims, D2 Boys’ prelims and D3 Boys’ semis. 18 prime playoff games in 1 night….. Ridiculous.
Saturday March 12th: D1 Boys’ quarterfinals, D2 Boys’ quarterfinals and D3 Boys’ Ship. 9 ultra-prime playoff games in 1 night…….. Ridiculous.
What is a true HS hoop fan going to do on those nights? Cell phones and tablets will be exploding with game information on those 2 evenings. Well, on to the 2nd half HS hoop fans.