By: Tuesday and Friday
So, when was the last time you saw someone who scored ZERO points in a headline in leading their basketball team to a big victory? Probably never. After watching last night’s Portsmouth thrilling semi-final victory I can say with full confidence I had no problem putting Portsmouth 5’11 senior guard Christian Peete in the headline for this article. Here is Pesky Peete’s stat line: 0 points on 0 – 2 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, 1 assist and 1 steal. This isn’t exactly what you would call a player of the game stat line.
Let me give you one example of how Pesky Peete is a game changer. With 5:57 left in the 3rd period Portsmouth missed 2 FTs. On the 2nd missed FT the rebound was secured by a Winnacunnett Big. Peete came over to be a defensive pest and forced the Winny Big into deflecting the ball off his leg to give Portsmouth back possession of the ball. Peete did a similar play like this numerous times to Winnacunnett. When the Warriors shut down the Clippers defensively and gain possession of the ball Peete would scheme a way to steal the ball back or force a Warrior into a turnover to give the ball back to the Clippers. This would lead to more offensive time for Portsmouth and less offensive time for Winnacunnett.
Peete secured the ball offensively for Portsmouth taking the ball handling pressure off Graham and Parham. With Portsmouth not being a deep team this season, this is a huge factor. Peete handling the ball and finding offensive space to stay away from the zip code known as Turnover City was imperative to minimize Clipper turnovers against a fast and athletic Winnacunnet defensive club.
Cody Graham had 15 points at the half to help give Portsmouth a 31 to 22 lead. Graham scored 1 point in the 2nd half. A balky leg/knee/ankle seemed to decrease Graham’s push off on his outside shots and his free throws. Graham was tired and hobbling. Enter Clipper sophomore Alex Tavares. The 6’3 sophomore forward had 11 points in the 2nd half and every one of them was huge. It seemed like every time Tavares scored it disrupted some momentum for the Warriors. Tavares scored 19 to lead the Clippers along with getting 6 rebounds.
A Liam Viviano layup with 2:04 left in the game drew the Warriors within 2 at 47 to 45. The Winnacunnet student bodies were shaking the bleachers as Portsmouth came up the court on their biggest possession of the season. In big situations you go to your big players and although hobbled, Graham had the ball in his hand. Graham is fouled and with 1:04 left Graham cans a ft to give Portsmouth a 48 to 45 lead. Winnacunnet couldn’t execute at their offensive end coming up empty in the next 20 seconds. Tavares hits 2 FTs to widen the Clipper lead at 50 – 45 with 39 seconds left. The Warriors hit nothing but iron on their remaining shots and Portsmouth finalizes a 5 – 0 run in the last 2 minutes to survive against their Seacoast rival.
Any team that wins a Championship must survive a “Grind it out” game on their road to a title. Was this Portsmouth’s “grinder” game? Well, I guess we’ll find out at 3:00 pm on Saturday when they play Bedford. Graham’s leg is certainly a concern for the Portsmouth faithful, even though he played all 32 minutes of the semi-final game. If I am Bedford there is one stat that would trouble me. Winnacunnet shot 51% for the game and STILL lost by 7. This is a testament to how good Portsmouth is. The Clippers took a pretty good punch from their Seacoast rival and still advanced to the Ship. They did not play their best game in the semis and Winnacunnet had something to do with that. There is something to be said for Portsmouth giving a “B” performance and still surviving at the Lundholm gym.
As valuable as Graham is to the Clipper success, Joey Glynn still remains a matchup nightmare for every other D1 team. Bedford certainly doesn’t have a player who can go toe to toe with Glynn on Saturday. The Bulldogs will have to use the sum of all their interchangeable parts to counter the 6’5 Glynn in the paint and on the boards at UNH. Oh and don’t forget about Mr Intangible a/k/a Christian Peete. I’m sure the tube of glue senior will be ready to display his flashy stat line against the Bedford Bulldogs, in only a pesky manner he can produce.