By: Tuesday and Friday
Jacobee Burpee scored 14 points and Gob Gob added 13 to lead a balanced team scoring effort in defeating Pembroke in the prelim playoff game. West will travel to Hollis/Brookline on Saturday at 7:00 pm to play a much anticipated quarterfinal game.
I’m driving swiftly down 293 to get to the historic Quinn gymnasium on the campus of West high school when a physical occurrence invades my body. I was so excited to see some playoff high school basketball that I forgot to eat dinner. Now, faced with the reality of high school playoff food of hot dogs, popcorn and skittles, my excitement for the night starts diminishing. I walk into the gym lobby of the historic Quinn gymnasium and was floored by the food selection. I had my choice of lobster rolls, steak tip subs and chicken parm on al dente pasta. Wow, the new principal at West, Ricky Dichard, is really going all out. It’s amazing when you get a new leader how a nice change can take place. Seeing that lobster is not usually in season on the west side of Manchester in the winter, I opted for the steak tip sub………
……… Wait a second. I just woke up from my playoff basketball dreaming. There were hot dogs, popcorn and skittles. It must have been the 2 block walk down scenic Conant St that threw me off my mental food state. Oh well.
Senior Dillon Plourde canned two three’s for West to give the Blue Knights an early 6 – 0 lead in the first 2 minutes. Kuany Teng nails another 3 at the 5:25 mark to up the West lead to 9 – 0. Jacobee Burpee finishes an athletic And 1 slash to the rim to make it 12 – 0 West. Pembroke calls TO. The West crowd is rocking and the Pembroke team is reeling. Pembroke weathered the storm with the leadership and scoring of the cool, calm and collected sophomore point guard Noah Cummings. He scored 6 points the rest of the first and seemed like the only Spartan who was able to create sufficient space for shots against the relentless West man to man defense. At the end of 1 West had a 12 to 7 lead.
One thing became apparent in the second quarter. West was not going to let Pembroke’s net filler, junior Jake Sherman, light it up this evening. Every time the D2 leading scorer tried to get a shot off he had no space, a hand in his face or was surrounded by 2 defenders. “Our defensive game plan was to defensively limit Sherman and Menard” said West coach Danny Bryson, “And I think we executed our game plan.” Pembroke remained cold while West shot the ball well from the outside in the 2nd stanza.
Sherman scored his first basket with 3:14 left in the 2nd to make it 22 to 14 West. A Teng 3 with 2:13 left made it 25 to 14 West. A Gob layup pushed it to 27 – 14 and then a Gob runner with 50 seconds left gave West their biggest lead of the half at 29 – 14. Pembroke was on the Rock Rimmon cliff with 1 foot off. The Spartan fall became complete when Sean Menard suffered a game ending leg injury with 38 seconds left. Between the West defense and the Menard injury the mental state for Pembroke was not good going into the halftime break.
Sherman and Menard combined for nearly 40 points/game for Pembroke in the regular season. At halftime they had combined for 4 points.
The Blue Knights had a blistering start to the second half thanks to senior Carlos Dominguez who scored the first 7 points for West to help them maintain a healthy lead at 36 to 20 three minutes in. A Jacobee Burpee runner gave West their largest lead of the game at 40 to 20 with 3 minutes left in the 4th and for all intents and purposes it was game, set and match for the Blue Knights. Cummings was tired from the additional ball handling work load without Menard and even though Sherman loosened the Quinn gymnasium nets a little more in the 3rd quarter, the 4th quarter became a trading of baskets pony show for both teams.
Noah Cummings finished with 16 points and Jake Sherman had 14 to lead Pembroke. The Spartans’ future is looking very bright as they return their whole starting 5 next year. Pembroke will be a Top 8 team in D2 next season. If they want to make the jump to the Top 4, they will have to develop some offensive and defensive paint presence from their Bigs. Relying on their Big 3 of Sherman, Cummings and Menard will get you by in a lot of games, but there will be defenses and tiny box gyms like West in their future schedule that will take away their outside game. Adding some paint points becomes a must for the Spartans next season.
West looked very good in this game. They shot the ball well from the outside and when they drew Pembroke out of their zone defense their high flying and fast paced offense was on full display. Coach Bryson said, “I thought we shot the ball well tonight, but not great.” On playing Hollis/Brookline in the big quarterfinal game at an away gym Bryson said, “We’ll be ready for the game.”
It’s a simple thing with West. Most teams can’t match up with them in a man to man defense. You have to play them zone. If West hits iron from the outside, then you continue in zone and hope their offensive nets don’t heat up. If the Blue Knights start tickling the twine from the outside and you make the decision to come out in man defense, then you better send someone quickly to the nearest church to light some candles, because at that point the game will be in the hands of the Basketball Gods and the high flying West fast paced pressure offense.