Saturday, March 18, 2017

Portsmouth Wins Back-to-Back Undefeated Championships

Okay, this is going to be the understatement of the year. Portsmouth boys basketball is GOOD.

Portsmouth went undefeated last year in D-II, beating previously unbeaten Lebanon easily in the final. With their top 4 players all returning, the Clippers moved up to D-I this season. Portsmouth did it again, going undefeated. They beat Bedford 63-40 on Saturday afternoon to win the D-I title.

Moving up a division in basketball then going undefeated. This has never been done before in the NHIAA - until now. Portsmouth made history today.

Back-to-back undefeated seasons. 43-0. The Fourth state title in the last 11 years for Portsmouth under head coach Jim Mulvey, who is widely regarded as the best boys basketball coach in the NHIAA.

"Going undefeated my senior year - this is the greatest feeling in the world" said Portsmouth senior guard Christian Peete. "Back when we were in D-II we used to beat D-I teams in scrimmages. So I thought we'd be good, but I didn't think we'd go undefeated."

Peete is not known for his offense. He is arguably the best defender in the NHIAA. In Portsmouth's semi-final win over Winnacunnet, Peete went scoreless. But in Saturday's final Peete was on fire, hitting five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points to go with 4 rebounds and 4 steals.

"After those first two shots went down I knew it was going to be a good day, so I kept shooting" said Peete. "I don't care about how many points I score. I don't care about making all-state. I just do whatever it takes to win."

We've had an undefeated D-I champion three of the past four years. Manchester Central in 2014, Londonderry in 2015 and Portsmouth in 2017. 3 great teams. Which team was the best?

"They chanted D-I rejects at us last year" said Portsmouth junior shooting guard Cody Graham. "This year we were trying to prove everyone in the state wrong, especially as a small school playing in D-I. Everyone trusts everybody else on our team to make the shot. #2 for them was on me and didn't let me get the ball much today. Christian and Joey had big games for us."

Portsmouth 6-foot-5 senior forward Joey Glynn dropped 20 points to go with 10 rebounds in thew win. He was a force in the paint all game.

"Not all kids want to put in the work, but Joey does - he lpoves the process" said Portsmouth head coach Jim Mulvey. "He was in the gym the entire summer. People don't realize this because we need him to play inside, but Joey can shoot the three, too. You'll see him do it next year when hes at Tilton. He's the greatest kid. He's the best player in our state, and to not get Player of the Year is a joke."

Portsmouth would have won regardless, but this game would have been a little closer if Bedford didn't lose one of their best players to injury. With 3:00 left in the 2nd quarter, Bulldogs senior wing Troy Meservey blocked his third shot of the game. As he came down he landed awkwardly on his leg. Meservey then held his leg in pain. He was then attended to by the training staff. About 20 minutes later he was on a stretcher and taken off in an ambulance. The collective thoughts all of those inside Lundholm Gymnasium today are with Meservey. You hate to see that happen to anybody. Injuries are a part of sports, but an unfortunate one. We wish him luck.

Bedford came out in a 2-3 zone to start the game. Peete immediately made them pay, draining a 3 from the right wing off the catch. Bedford 6-foot-4 junior forward Nolan Anderson answered back, with a strong post move and finish inside, scoring over Glynn.

Bedford 6-foot-2 junior guard Max Chartier is a very good scorer, but the Portsmouth perimeter defense led by Peete, Parham and Glynn were making life miserable for Charterier and the other Bedford players. Peete hit another 3 from the right wing off the catch. Meservey made a nice block, but Glynn got the ball back and put it in for 2. That made it 8-2 Portsmouth with 2:25 left in the 1st quarter, forcing Bedford head coach Mark Elmendorf to call a timeout.

The Clippers run continued, as Glynn hit a jumper from the elbow and Peete hustled inside for a tip-in. It was 12-2 Portsmouth. Meservey made a good slash to the rim baseline, and strong finish at the rim. It was 12-4 clippers after 1 quarter.

Anderson made a good move inside, spinning on Glynn for 2 more. Meservey made another nice block on 'D'. Graham made a slick move baseline for a layup. Portsmouth sophomore wing forward Alex Tavares made a heck of a pass, dishing it inside to Glynn for a layup and a 16-6 PHS lead with 4:00 left in the 1st half. Then Bedford got a tough break, as senior wing Liam Greene clearly got hit on his way up for a shot inside but got no foul call.

That's when Meservey blocked his third shot of the game, but fell to the floor, suffering an injury. Bedford's players looked on with concern for their teammate and friend. When play resumed, Connor Crowley entered the game for the Bulldogs and immediately converted an and-1 floater which got Bedford pumped up.

Glynn answered on the other end with a turnaround bank shot inside, making it 20-9 Portsmouth. Greene rattled in a 3 and then Anderson made a nice blocked on a shot attempt inside by Glynn. That also got the Bulldogs pumped up, as they tried to mount a comeback.

But it wasn't meant to be. Peete buried another 3 from the right wing off the catch. Nick Mokas hit a 3 for Bedford, and it was 23-15 Clippers at halftime.

Portsmouth outscored Bedford 24-9 in the 3rd quarter to put the game out of reach for good. Parham started the 2nd half off with a baseline drive and a nice teardrop shot. Peete slashed to the rim and hit a floater. Tavares connected on a foul line jumper - the Clippers are so in sync on both ends of the floor. They led 29-15 with 5:46 left in the 3rd quarter. A 6-0 PHS run to start the 2nd half, and Bedford called timeout to try and stop the bleeding.

Greene made a nice move, bulling his way down the lane for 2. Portsmouth ran a fast-break off the make, quickly pushing the ball ahead to Glynn for a layup. Parham made a nice lob feed to Glynn for an alley-oop finish. It was almost too easy. Parham, Peete and Glynn have really good chemistry out there together. They've been playing together for a long time. They just know where each other is on the floor.

"We've been playing together since fifth grade" said Parham. AJ (McManus)'s dad coached us in AAU back then. We came up playing together. Cody is only a year younger, so he came up playing with us too. So when we got to high school we knew we were going to be dominant. Then in high school we just kept practicing. Coach Mulvey tells us to keep the ball moving and get the defense off balance."

Portsmouth kept rolling. Tavares hit a 3-pointer from the right wing and it was 38-18 Clippers. Peete drilled yet another 3 ball. Glynn made a nice block on 'D', starting a fast-break which ended with a 3-pointer by Parham. It was now 44-20 Portsmouth with 1:47 left in the 3rd quarter. Bedford called timeout, as they were getting run out of the gym.

Out of the timeout Andersonstepped in and took a charge on a Tavares drive. Anderson made a nice high-low pass, finding Greene inside for a strong finish through contact. Peete buried another 3, this one with 2 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. It was 47-24 Clippers after 3. The rout was on!

Portsmouth cruised to the title from there. Parham started the 4th quarter off with a quick dribble drive to the rim for a layup. The Clippers were running the clock. Glynn drove down the lane for a smooth finger roll. Soon after that both teams started to empty their benches. Final score, Portsmouth 63 Bedford 40.

"Mulvey is the best coach in the state" said Graham. "Every team we play, he breaks down the film for them and works with us in the film room and in practice. He's up until 2:00 am watching film on the teams we play. He breaks it down for us and tells us for each team play, what each player's strengths and weaknesses are, how to play them, if they like to go right or left, what their shot selection is like, what type of defense they play."

Bedford made a good run. This is a team that lost their top 6 players off last year's team. Five of them graduated and the other (Colby Gendron) transferred to prep school. For them to make it this far speaks volumes. Credit goes to Coach Elmendorf, his staff and the hard working kids on the team.

With that being said, this was Portsmouth's year and everyone in the state knew it.

Whether Portsmouth in 2017, Londonderry in 2015 or Central in 2014 could be debated. But what we can all agree on is this - all 3 were great teams and when teams like that come along they deserve to be appreciated and recognized.

Now let's see Portsmouth take on the MIAA state champ!

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