By: Jeremy Leveille
Prior to tonight, the last time Portsmouth and Bishop Brady met at UNH (last year's D-II final) was one of the best title games in recent memory. Jourdain Bell hit a clutch 3-pointer, his brother Joe Bell made a layup at the buzzer and Brady won the game - and the championship.
This time it was a different story - a much different story. Portsmouth was in control of this game from beginning to end. Even though they were only up by 7 at halftime, Brady was just barely scratching and clawing in order to stay in it. Then the Clippers outscored the Giants 18-7 in the 3rd quarter, taking a commanding 41-23 lead after 3 quarters. At that point, fans were already penciling Portsmouth into the title game on Saturday vs. Lebanon. The Clippers cruised from there to the 55-32 win.
"We hit the shots we needed to and got the 'W'" said Portsmouth sophomore shooting guard Cody Graham, who poured in 18 points, including four 3-pointers.
The Clippers advance to the D-II title game for the fifth time in the last six years.
"It always comes down to defense" said Portsmouth head coach Jim Mulvey. "We needed to turn them over. We wanted to get them into the mid-20's for turnovers, but at halftime they only had 8. I think in the 2nd half we just picked up the intensity."
The points came at a rapid rate for the Clippers in the 3rd quarter. Portsmouth 6-foot-5 junior forward Joey Glynn was a man among boys in the paint, rebounding his own miss and converting the put-back. Glynn amassed a whopping 7 offensive rebounds, finishing with a game-high 19 points and 9 total boards.
"That's not even as good as he can play" said Coach Mulvey.
"Coach told us to get it down low to Joe" said Graham. "He's an animal."
Portsmouth got a steal, Graham took it strong to the rim for an and-1. Bishop Brady senior guard Joe Bell (team-high 13 points and 10 rebounds) answered back with an and-1 of his own. Then Clippers senior guard Romeo Ingram hit a floater and then teammate Christian Peete made a great play to hustle for a steal and make the layup. Glynn converted another put-back, the Clippers now led 34-19 with 4:45 left in the 3rd quarter, forcing Brady to call a timeout - the game was getting away from them.
Brady junior guard Matt Quirk (12 points) hit a baseline leaner off the bounce. Peete countered by draining a wide open 3-ointer, making it a 16-5 run and a 37-21 lead. Glynn took a charge on 'D', made a nice block on the next defensive trip and then converted another put-back. Then Peete made another great hustle play, going after a loose ball. Peete does all the little things well and is a valuable contributor for this Portsmouth squad.
"We have other guys who can score, so I just try to bring the energy and let the other guys feed off of me" said Peete.
The Clippers led 41-23 after 3 quarters. In the 4th quarter Brady junior forward Matt Desmarais made a nice block on 'D'. Glynn had an and-1 finish, pushing the PHS lead to 44-23. Brady kept fighting, as Bell made a nice spin move into the lane on the break for an and-1 leaner.
Portsmouth junior point guard Shon Parham added tough lefty bank shot leaner, as the Clippers were running away with it. Brady kept battling, as Quirk hit a short jumper and sophomore guard Bryce Johnson took a charge. Meanwhile, Glynn converted yet another put-back. He's very tough to keep off the boards. The Clippers win it 55-32.
Portsmouth will take on Lebanon on Saturday in the D-II final. Both teams are a perfect 21-0 on the season. Even Portsmouth's JV team went undefeated. The Clippers also beat Cambridge High during the holiday tournament. Cambridge is playing for the D-I Massachusetts state title on Saturday. They are 29-1, with their only loss coming to Portsmouth.
"Tis is going to be a game you don't want to miss" said Graham. "All season people have been talking about how it's Lebanon and Portsmouth, Portsmouth and Lebanon. Now we'll see who's better. It's going to be a big crowd."
Portsmouth is moving back up to D-I next season.
"We're definitely focused - this is what we want" said Peete. "We want to leave D-II as champions."
Give Brady credit for battling the way they did and making it a game for most of the way. Glynn scored inside early on off a dish by Graham. Bell answered back with a turnaround jumper from 18-feet. Gram buried a 3-pointer from the left corner off a baseline out of bounds play - he's got a very quick release.
Bell countered with a 3 ball of his own, also off a baseline out of bounds play, but from the left corner. We were tied up 5-5. Then Portsmouth went on a 9-0 run. Parham drove and hit a floater. Peete took a charge on a drive by Quirk. Graham drilled another 3 - he's got a smooth stroke from the outside.
"Cody Graham was sensational in the 1st half" said Coach Mulvey. "He hit some tough shots."
"I love playing in front of big crowds, when the pressure is on" said Graham.
On the other end Bell made a nice block on a shot attempt inside by Graham. Gynn made a tough finish inside, Bell took a charge on a drive attempt by Glynn, and it was 12-5 Portsmouth after 1.
Parham capped the 9-0 run early in the 2nd quarter by hitting a nice floater. The Giants were hanging in there, as Johnson connected on a jumper from the foul line to cut the Clippers' lead to 14-9. Graham was left open again from beyond the arc and he buried another one. You simply cannot leave him open.
Johnson took a charge on a drive attempt by Glynn. Then Johnson made a good dish to Desmarais for a layup, as the Portsmouth lead was down to 4, 17-13 with 1:14 left in the 1st half. The Clippers were again left open from downtown, and this time it was Parham knocking it down from the right wing. Graham followed that up with his fourth 3 ball of the 1st half. He then turned and made a gesture towards the Brady student section. Bell kicked it to Johnson, who hit a 3-pointer, cutting the Clippers' lead to 23-16 at halftime.