By: Ross Laorenza
Manchester Memorial improves to 8-3 on the NHIAA regular season with a 69-59 win at Trinity. The Crusaders got out to a huge lead before Trinity started to chip away in the 3rd quarter. "We showed some poise and I think we showed what we were made of," said Crusader's coach Jack Quirk. On the victory he added, "It's a win away from home in a very difficult place. This place has been a house of horrors for us in recent years...It's a very difficult place to play.
Memorial started the game with a 12-2 run. Three-pointers from Paul Rodolf and Nick Philibert, two lay-ups from Jake Carrier and two free throws from Brandon Scott gave the Crusaders the early edge.
The Pioneers would push back briefly. Connor Walsh was able to find an open man on back-to-back possessions. First he fed Zach Dagan, then he found Justin Trickett on a back door cut. After a basket by Brandon Scott, Trickett worked his way open again down low, as did James Santos. Trinity now trails only 14-10.
With just over three minutes to play in the quarter, Brandon Scott hit a huge three from the wing and drew a foul. He made his free throw completing the 4-point play. Another three-pointer from Paul Rodolf pushed the Crusader lead back to 11 points, 21-10. It would grow to as many as 14 points before a 4-0 Pioneer run ended the quarter. After one, Memorial: 24, Trinity: 14.
Connor Walsh opened the scoring in the second quarter as Trinity tried to inch closer to the Crusaders. A 7-0 run by the Memorial would push the lead to 15 points with just over two minutes gone in third quarter. Included in the run was Rodolf's third three of the night. His range and ability to break free from the Pioneer defense really impressed in the the first half.
After two free throws from Connor Walsh, another short 6-0 run had Memorial in front 37-18. Nearly every Trinity turnover or missed shot turned into transition points the other way for Memorial. At the end of the first half Memorial: 43, Trinity: 26.
The game really shifted in the third quarter. After baskets from Carrier and Philibert put them up by 22, the Crusader offense suddenly went cold. It was the chance that Trinity so desperately needed if they wanted to get back in the game. Connor Walsh led the charge with help from Pat Mackey and Jordan Santos. The Pioneers were able to close the gap to just 8 points by the start of the 4th, 54-46.
Trinity would get as close 4 points of the lead before the Crusader offense reeled into form late in the fourth. A sweet lay-up by Rodolf and a dagger three by Philibert put they game just out of reach. Final score: Memorial: 69, Trinity: 59.
Memorial is a team that can have a great impact come tournament time in March. They have the quickness and athleticism to hang with some of the best teams in the state defensively, and when their offense gets rolling it can be hard to slow down.
Connor Walsh finished with a game high 25 points as he tried to lead the Pioneer comeback. Four Crusaders scored in double figures in the victory. Brandon Scott finished with a team high 19 points, Jake Carrier finished with 14 points, Nick Philibert tallied 13 points, and Paul Rodolf ended with 12 points.
From Manchester, New Hampshire; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook