By: Tuesday and Friday
The most surprising thing about the D1 Boys prelims last night is that it wasn't really all that surprising. After all the talk about parity existing all season and no real power teams 7 of the 8 games held true to seed form. (#9 beating #8 is a wash)
Of course, the biggest surprise of the night was Spaulding beating Exeter 67 to 56. I know this is a rivalry game and the Red Raiders are a younger club getting better, but this result makes zero sense in basketball terms. Sure, Cronin is a great coach, but Spaulding's 6 victories were against teams who all had a losing record. Spaulding did not have 1 regular season win over a team with a winning record. The Red Raiders had the lead for 32 minutes. Exeter was a team that had all the ingredients to make a final four push and possibly hoist the big plaque. They had one of the best backcourts in the state with Holmes and Morissette. Backcourt play is paramount in the playoffs. The Blue Hawks had some size and offensive balance. To see the transpirings of this game throughout the night and the final result is just a real head scratcher.
South having a 20 point lead mid-way through the 3rd quarter on Memorial and you’re booking the big rivalry North – South quarterfinal for Saturday….. Wrong !! I think I used the term, “dead fish in the basketball waters” a couple of times as I was getting updates on Memorial sinking against South. As they have done a few times this season, Memorial put up a lot of points in not that much time to complete the comeback victory. The Quirky Memorial fish lifted themselves from the basketball floor to play at North this Saturday in the quarterfinals. You can’t call this an upset when a 9 beats an 8, especially this season in D1 boys.
A lot of hoop fans thought an upset might come out of the 5/12 or the 6/11 games. Although it’s not surprising Merrimack and Bedford won these games, what is surprising is that BG and Salem didn’t put up more of a fight. The winners were in control throughout the majority of these 2 games. BG beat Merrimack in the regular season. Salem lost to Bedford earlier in the season, but had won 5 out of their last 6 games. To see BG and Salem score 26 and 36 points respectively in their prelim game losses and get beat by a combined 39 points is not what I think Migs and Mac thought when their teams tapped off last night…… 2 disappointing ends to a season.
Many times this year you could read a lot into score updates and results with Trinity. Last night was a glaring example for the Pioneers. This team never got into a smooth flow during the season. Their longest winning streak was 3 games, but it came against Salem, Pembroke and Alvirne. There wasn’t a buzz to the Pioneer boys’ team this season. They ran into the Pinkerton buzz saw last night losing by 26. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Trinity basketball.
Speaking of Pinkerton, they host Winnacunnet in the quarterfinal on Saturday. The Astros played without Morris last night due to a head injury. It is up in the air if Morris will play against Winnacunnet. Pinkerton lost to McKenna’s squad by 10 in early January. There is definitely some drama dripping at the Hackler Gym in Derry on Saturday night.
Central survived against Keene. This is not your father or grandfather’s Little Green team. They are not a potent team. Doc has been saying if his team doesn’t come to play they can beat by anybody. Now, they play Bedford. The Bulldogs have been in this position before since they moved to D1 a few years ago; visiting a storied D1 boys’ gym for a big quarterfinal game. Bedford has come up empty with all their previous quarterfinal road games. The Simon Gym is storied. Bedford has more scorers than Central, but can they defend and have the mental toughness to pull out a big road quarterfinal victory in D1, which would be a first for them. We shall see.