Malcolm Butler intercepted at Hadlock Field

Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler salutes the crowd at Hadlock Field with the SB trophy

Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler salutes the crowd at Hadlock Field with the SB trophy

Malcolm signs a football

Malcolm signs a football

Malcolm Butler intercepted at Hadlock Field

(Portland ME)  It was enough to draw me to Hadlock Field even with an iffy forecast.

The Portland Sea Dogs brought in Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler along with the SB trophy on Monday night.

What current Patriots’ fan will ever forget Malcolm’s startling interception with twenty-six seconds left?

That game was all but won by Seattle until Malcolm jumped the pass route near the goal line and won the SB for New England.

Malcolm arrived at Hadlock at 5:30PM and did some signing for the Sea Dogs in their dugout.  Then he was briefly interviewed by a local TV station.  After that he throw out the first pitch and then was given the SB trophy to lift up to the delight of the crowd.

Quit a bit of the crowd was missing at the start of the game because they were in the concourse waiting to get Malcolm’s autograph.

Gavin Cecchini - 1st round Mets pick in 2012

Gavin Cecchini – 1st round Mets pick in 2012

I checked out a couple of prospects while I was there.  I saw Mookie Betts at Portland last year in April.

The Binghamton Mets have two first-round selections (Brandon Nimmo – 2011) and (Gavin Cecchini – 2012) on their roster.

Most of the top prospects for the Red Sox are either at AAA Pawtucket of A Salem (Virginia).  I believe that Carlos Asuaje is Boston’s top-rated player at Portland.

The game ended up being called after two innings because of rain.  I was pleased to get my pictures before the rain became a problem.

Thanks again to Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Super Bowl trophy

Super Bowl trophy

Carlos Asuaje and Jantzen Witte

Carlos Asuaje and Jantzen Witte

Malcolm Butler salutes the crowd

Malcolm Butler salutes the crowd

Malcolm Butler

Malcolm Butler

Malcolm arrives at Hadlock Field

Malcolm arrives at Hadlock Field

Gavin Cecchini sets to throw to first

Gavin Cecchini sets to throw to first

Carlos Asuaje squares to bunt

Carlos Asuaje squares to bunt

Sea Dogs Keury De La Cruz

Sea Dogs Keury De La Cruz

Shortstop Gavin Cecchini

Shortstop Gavin Cecchini

Brandon Nimmo - 1st round Mets pick in 2011

Brandon Nimmo – 1st round Mets pick in 2011

 

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Amesbury defeats Newburyport 11-2 behind Hayley Cantania

Nine strikeouts for Amesbury starter Hayley Cantania

Nine strikeouts for Amesbury starter Hayley Cantania

Lauren Fedorchak (2B) catches the final out for Amesbury

Lauren Fedorchak (2B) catches the final out for Amesbury

(Amesbury) Perfect softball weather.

The softball played on Monday afternoon…not so perfect but Amesbury did come away with an 11-2 win over neighboring Newburyport.

AHS freshman Hailey Cantania kept nine Clippers off the base paths with strikeouts in her five innings of pitching.  That was significant in a game where the defenses were nowhere near where they will be later in the season.  Overthrows and bad decisions abounded for both sides on balls in play.  The Indians (2-0) had fewer chances to deal with, however,  thanks to Hailey’s pitching.

But this was early season action and with the weather around here who could even tell until recently that there were softball fields in the area.  Practicing indoors in gymnasiums or outdoors in cold/windy weather won’t prepare a team for a season of softball.  This was the opener for Newburyport and it showed.

Down 7-0, catcher Shelby O’Brien whacked a two-run homer or at least we thought she did.  However, an appeal was made that base runner Morgan Johnston had failed to touch third.  Goodbye, two runs!

Emily Robinson (#14) gets mobbed by her Amesbury teammates after 3-run homer

Emily Robinson (#14) gets mobbed by her Amesbury teammates after 3-run homer

Biggest hit in the game?  Three-run blast by junior Emily Robinson of Amesbury to center in the sixth.  The Clippers might have had a chance to get Emily at the plate but on this day the relay throw went to third instead of to home.

Several times for both teams potential double plays were lost because of throws to the wrong base or throws too high to the right base.  I hope I’ve made my point……the defenses were shaky!

I also heard a retiring coach shouting to a second baseman to throw the ball to first (for a double play?) AFTER the second baseman had caught a popup for the third out of the last inning.  It was that kind of game!

Molly Kelley had a good game at second for the Clippers.

AHS relief pitcher Sam Stone

AHS relief pitcher Sam Stone

Helmets?  Glad Sam Stone had one on when catcher Shelby O’Brien’s throw from home struck that helmet as Sam slid back into first base.  The ball ended up caroming out of play.

Masks?  As a photographer I would prefer that the players didn’t wear masks in the field.  However as a parent/grandparent I am uncomfortable seeing infielders not wearing masks.  Way too dangerous, in my opinion.  One line drive up the middle nearly got AHS pitcher Hayley Catania who wasn’t wearing a mask.  Has no one figured out that a batted softball off a metal bat could cause a serious injury?

The weather was a great treat.  Temps close to 70 with plenty of sun.

I enjoyed being back with players and coaches of both teams.  I have been around both teams long enough to know who is new this year and who is missing.  Good folks on both sides.

My current schedule (working part-time at Pickwick Driving School Tuesday-Friday) will keep me from doing many games this season.  I regret it but some things have to be.

I was pleased to see that Dan Harrison, formerly of the Salem News, is now part the the Newburyport Daily News staff.  He is a good writer and the coverage of the area spring sports should be significantly upgraded as a result.

(The pictures above and below will enlarge significantly if you click on them.)

Amesbury lineup

Amesbury lineup

Maddie Napoli (shortstop) throws to first

Maddie Napoli (shortstop) throws to first

trouble in the Newburyport outfield

trouble in the Newburyport outfield

Molly Kelley (2B) about to catch a popup

Molly Kelley (2B) about to catch a popup

Jade Carpenter (3B) prepares to throw home

Jade Carpenter (3B) prepares to throw home

Morgan Johnston

Morgan Johnston

Newburyport team picture

Newburyport team picture

Clippers relief pitcher Carley Siemasko throws to Molly Kelley at first

Clippers relief pitcher Carley Siemasko throws to Molly Kelley at first

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Londonderry boys get first D1 title 47-46 over Pinkerton Academy

Matt Rizzo set to launch the last shot of the game

Matt Rizzo set to launch the last shot of the game

The Londonderry celebrating begins

The Londonderry celebrating begins

Londonderry (2015 Division 1 champions)

Londonderry (2015 Division 1 champions)

Brandon Radford scored the game-winner.  Here he applies some defense

Brandon Radford scored the game-winner. Here he applies some defense

(Durham NH) They aren’t very far apart geographically (five miles) and when this one ended they weren’t very far apart on the UNH scoreboard either.

#1 seed Londonderry won a good-to-the-last-shot thriller over #3 seed Pinkerton Academy, 47-46, on Saturday afternoon to get their first Division 1 boys’ basketball title in school history.

Londonderry should be one happy place for a while since both girls and boys basketball teams were still standing after championship games today and last Saturday.  Nashua did the same thing back in 1986.

As you can tell by the low final score, both teams struggled to have good offense and good defense together at the same time.  That is why the game came down to the last made shot.  Neither team was ahead by more than a point over the closing tense 4 ½ minutes of the game.

The undefeated Lancers (22-0) scored what turned out to be the winning basket with fifty seconds left.  Matt Rizzo (12 points) missed a free throw and Jake Coleman collected his 11th rebound.  The Lancers’ Brandon Radford was lined up on the inside position for the free throw and when his teammate secured the rebound Brandon took off full-speed for the other end completely unnoticed by anyone on PA.  Jake Coleman took a couple of dribbles and spotted and threw a pass to his wide-open sophomore teammate who finished with a layup.  That gave Londonderry a 47-46 lead that turned out to be the final score.

Matt Rizzo shoots with a chance to give PA a two-point lead

Matt Rizzo shoots with a chance to give PA a two-point lead

Believe me, after that basket with fifty seconds to go, the excitement was far from over.  The Astros used thirty seconds of clock before Geo Baker lost the ball out-of-bounds.  In bounds the ball came to Jake Coleman who was fouled with twelve seconds left.  Here was a chance for Londonderry to add some comfort to a one-point lead but Jake missed.  The Astros got the ball into the hands of Geo Baker and I was quite certain he would take the final shot.  Geo, however, was unable to penetrate and was forced left and forced to give up the ball without a shot.  Matt Rizzo ended up with the ball straightaway from beyond the arc.  Matt had time to fake Jake Coleman away from him and get off a shot before the buzzer sounded. The shot missed but not by much!  And the celebrating began for the Lancers.

Credit the Londonderry defense in that last play for keeping Geo from penetrating and for forcing Matt into a very tough final shot.

Cody Ball defends Geo Baker

Cody Ball defends Geo Baker

Londonderry generated good offense/defense together in 2 ½ minutes of the second quarter running ten straight points together.  Two three’s by Jake Coleman (14 first half points) and a three and a free throw by Marc Corey (17 points) put the Lancers in front, 25-17.

It was Pinkerton’s turn to put the D & 0 together in the third quarter.  The Astros (18-4) collected the first ten points of that quarter (3-pointers by Drew Green and Matt Rizzo were part of it) to get in front, 35-32.

You read this far in a story of a Londonderry basketball game in 2014-15 and no mention yet of NH Division 1 Player-of-the-Year Cody Ball.  Cody, on this afternoon, was a cold-shooting (2-for-12) foul magnet.  Cody (St. Anselm’s next year) missed a good part of the third quarter after his fourth foul.

Jake Coleman held Londonderry together with his fourteen points/six rebounds in the first half.  His ability to handle the ball in the second half without turnovers was crucial.  His ability to see a wide open Brandon Radford in the last minute, for the game-winner, was huge.

Geo Baker looks for an opening

Geo Baker looks for an opening

I enjoyed watching first-team all-stater Cody Ball defend first-team all-stater Geo Baker.

Jake Coleman finished with a double/double (16 points/11 rebounds).

Sophomore Geo Baker spent his freshman year at Buckingham, Browne, and Nichols (BBN) in Cambridge before transferring to Pinkerton Academy in Derry.

The two teams met during the regular season at PA in February.  The Lancers won 67-61 in a game in which Cody Ball had five 3’s and Jake Coleman had twenty-five points.  David Faulks had twenty points in that game including four dunks.

Londonderry has now defeated their neighbors four straight games.

Great crowd and the way the game went back and forth both sides had plenty of opportunity to get excited.

The UNH stat crew did, and do, an excellent job.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures below and above enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Marc Corey (17 points) defended by Tommy Romick (11 points)

Marc Corey (17 points) defended by Tommy Romick (11 points)

Geo Baker (10 points) gives Pinkerton the lead in the 4th quarter

Geo Baker (10 points) gives Pinkerton the lead in the 4th quarter

Jake Coleman had a turnover-free game despite plenty of ballhandling

Jake Coleman had a turnover-free game despite plenty of ballhandling

LHS coach Nate Stanton

LHS coach Nate Stanton

Geo Baker and Jake Coleman chase a loose ball

Geo Baker and Jake Coleman chase a loose ball

Joey Kwiatkowski

Joey Kwiatkowski

Drew Green

Drew Green

David Faulks defended by Joey Kwiatkowski

David Faulks defended by Joey Kwiatkowski

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Geo Baker (33 points) leads Pinkerton Academy past Nashua North 63-58 in D1 semifinals

Geo Baker (33 points) hit two free throws, had a steal, and a layup in the last minute

Geo Baker (33 points) hit two free throws, had a steal, and a layup in the last minute

Geo Baker made eight 3-point shots

Geo Baker made eight 3-point shots

(Durham NH) It is not easy to get excited about a rematch between teams that were separated by forty-nine points (74-25) in their first meeting in January.

But #15 seed Nashua North reached the Division 1 semifinals and that gave the Titans a second chance with Pinkerton Academy at UNH on Tuesday night.

And what a rematch it was.  The underdogs went down by ten early but came back with a run of eighteen straight points to lead by eleven at halftime.

But in the second half PA’s sophomore Geo Baker took over getting twenty-two points leading the Astros to a 63-58 win and a trip to the finals at UNH on Saturday afternoon.  The Astros will face undefeated Londonderry for the title.

Pinkerton (18-3) rode the long ball in the second half.  Geo (33 points) had five from beyond the arc while teammate Brennan Morris dialed long distance successfully three times.

PA’s nine second-half 3-pointers had plenty to do with the Astros comeback.  Crunch time, however, belonged to Geo.  The Astros lead was a slim two points (58-56) with fifty seconds left and they had the ball.  The Titans were forced to foul and since Geo had the ball so much he was the one fouled.  He made two pressure free throws in a one-and-one situation to push the PA lead to four.  Next Nashua North possession Geo stole Brennan Kastens’ pass.  Again Geo was fouled but this time he missed with twenty-one seconds left.  NN’s Brendan Barrett got the rebound but his pass was picked off by Tommy Romick.  Tommy quickly fed nearby Geo for a killer layup and a six-point PA lead with sixteen seconds left.  No six-point play in the NN playbook so their remarkable tournament run came to an end.

Geo’s stat line in the second half was 22 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.  No turnovers in his second half stat line.

The Titans (8-13) looked like the #15 seed in the first quarter falling behind 17-7.  Geo Baker had two three’s in the early going and Matt Rizzo also had one.

Ronnie Silva ended the first half with a long three

Ronnie Silva ended the first half with a long three

Nashua North, however, was taking good care of the ball (3 turnovers in the first half).  In the second period PA had a 23-16 lead with 4:37 left.  How do you explain what happened the rest of the quarter?  You never saw momentum shift the way it did.  The Astros didn’t make a point the rest of the quarter while the Titans, led by quick guard Ronnie Silva, couldn’t miss.  The #15 seed ran eighteen unanswered points, including four 3’s from Ronnie, and left the court ahead, 34-23.  Ronnie’s last three had NBA length and was just before the buzzer.

Stunned would be the way I would describe the halftime atmosphere.  The big question was whether or not the Titans could generate enough points in their one-shot possessions against a taller PA squad to stay ahead in the second half.

Geo Baker looks to pass while Brandon Rodriguez and Ronnie Silva defend

Geo Baker looks to pass while Brandon Rodriguez and Ronnie Silva defend

In the second half the Astros shut out Ronnie Silva and defended the Titans into twelve turnovers.  One shot possessions are one thing, when you’re hot, but twelve no-shot possessions added to them will do a team in.  And if you add Geo Baker’s remarkable second half to the mix you can see why Pinkerton rallied back.

Nearly 50% of the shots taken were 3’s – 46/97.

Nathan Hale (16) and Brennan Kastens (14) also reached double figures for the Titans.

Brennan Kastens, Geo Baker, and David Faulks had dunks in the game.  David’s throw down was set up by a terrific Geo Baker pass.

Good crowd on hand.  I suspect that most of the Spaulding/Londonderry early arrivals were encouraging the Titans to knock off #3 seed Pinkerton Academy.

Excellent stat help from the UNH crew.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Nathan Hale (16 points) finishes

Nathan Hale (16 points) finishes

Brennan Morris (12 points) ends the third with a long three

Brennan Morris (12 points) ends the third with a long three

David Faulks dunks

David Faulks dunks

Brennan Kastens (14 points) jams

Brennan Kastens (14 points) jams

Ronnie Silva had five 3-pointers in the first half

Ronnie Silva had five 3-pointers in the first half

Drew Green goes for the block on Brandon Rodriguez

Drew Green goes for the block on Brandon Rodriguez

celebrating beings

celebrating beings

Nathan Hale and Matt Rizzo

Nathan Hale and Matt Rizzo

tight defense

tight defense

chasing a rebound

chasing a rebound

 

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Londonderry wins 2nd straight D1 title 48-33 over Winnacunnet

Londonderry begins to celebrate a second straight title

Londonderry begins to celebrate a second straight title

2015 Division One champions

2015 Division One champions

(Manchester NH) No need for any last-minute heroics by Londonderry in this one.

The #2 seed Lancers started fast and never trailed as they defeated Winnacunnet, 48-33, to take a second straight Division 1 title.

The Friday night encounter at the SNHU Fieldhouse lacked the end-game tension of a year ago when Londonderry rode a late three by Brittany Roche (assisted by Jackie Luckhardt) to an exciting 57-56 victory over Bedford.

#9 Winnacunnet reached the finals by getting the ball inside to Meg Knollmeyer (nearly 20 points per game) and getting to the foul line (83 free throws to opponents‘ 44 free throws).

Tara Burke crowds Meg Knollmeyer (11 points)

Tara Burke crowds Meg Knollmeyer (11 points)

In the title game the Lancers (20-2) collapsed around Meg and wouldn’t let the talented junior or her teammates get to the rim very often.  The Warriors (14-8) had only eight free throws while Meg Knollmeyer was held to eleven points.  Tara Burke and Noelle Lambert were big in denying passes to the interior.

There were turnovers a-plenty in this game.  The number of passes to no one in particular astounded me.  It is important to note that some turnovers are more costly than others.  The first quarter is a prime example.  Londonderry got off to a great 8-0 start.  All eight points came off of Winnacunnet miscues.  That’s costly!

The Warriors played their best minutes of the game after getting down by eight. They got inside (3 layups) and closed to within two (10-8) after a quarter.  Meg Knollmeyer had two of the layups.

The team from Hampton was still within two (15-13) three minutes into the second quarter after a 3-pointer by Molly Britton.  But then the wheels came off for Winnacunnet as the Lancers ran nine unanswered points over the next three minutes to break away, 24-13.  Jackie Luckhardt had a 3-pointer, a rebound, and an assist in the separating segment.

Winnacunnet moved to within two possessions (30-24) on Emily Britton’s 3-pointer with 2 ½ minutes to go in the third quarter.  But the rest of the quarter was all Londonderry with a jumper by Brittany Roche and a long one by Kelsey Coffey.  That ending restored the Lancers’ eleven point lead (35-24).

Molly Britton (#24) had two 3-pointers

Molly Britton (#24) had two 3-pointers

The Warriors go inside a double-digit deficit briefly in the final quarter on Molly Britton’s second three-pointer and later a layup by Meg Knollmeyer.  However, two straight layups by Tara Burke restored the Lancers’ double-digit spread and they played keep-away on offense the rest of the way.

Junior Jackie Luckhardt had nine turnovers for Londonderry but the rest of her stat line had plenty to do with Londonderry winning the championship.  Jackie had eleven rebounds, seven points, nine assists, and six steals.

I saw at least two inbounds layups by Noelle Lambert assisted by Jackie.

This game was long on contact.  Meg Knollmeyer was staggered by a Kelsey Coffey screen in the second half.  Brittany Roche needed help from the trainer after she went down hard.

Winnacunnet scored just one layup in the second half.

Jackie Luckhardt (nine assists) flies over Meg Knollmeyer

Jackie Luckhardt (nine assists) flies over Meg Knollmeyer

Londonderry defeated Winnacunnet, 58-47, during the regular season.  Molly Britton had six 3-pointers for the Warriors while Meg Knollmeyer tallied seventeen points to go with eleven rebounds.  Key to the title win was significantly lessening the production of Molly and Meg in the second meeting.

Greatly appreciated getting a full set of stats from the SNHU stat crew.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge significantly if you click on them.)

Kelsey Coffey takes time off the clock in the 4th quarter

Kelsey Coffey takes time off the clock in the 4th quarter

Winnacunnet gets the runnerup trophy

Winnacunnet gets the runnerup trophy

Brittany Roche hit the game winner in the 2014 title game

Brittany Roche hit the game winner in the 2014 title game

Noelle Lambert and Tara Burke (11 points)

Noelle Lambert and Tara Burke (11 points)

Kelly Arsenault hemmed in by a trio of Lancers

Kelly Arsenault hemmed in by a trio of Lancers

Londonderry student section

Londonderry student section

Tara Burke and Brittany Roche lock down Katie Valcich

Tara Burke and Brittany Roche lock down Katie Valcich

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Slow start dooms Pentucket in 63-49 loss to Old Rochester in D3 state semifinals

Jordan Menard (13 points) was part of an aggressive assault on the Pentucket defense

Jordan Menard (13 points) was part of an aggressive assault on the Pentucket defense

Ryan Beatty (13 points) gets two

Ryan Beatty (13 points) gets two

(Boston MA) The Pentucket boys did get better as the game went along but when a team starts with a two-point first quarter getting better may not be enough.

And it wasn’t as the Sachems fell to Old Rochester, 63-49, in the Division 3 state semifinals on Tuesday night at the TD Garden.

Old Rochester (#1 seed from the South) never trailed thanks to an aggressiveness on both ends of the floor that Pentucket couldn’t match up with.

Pentucket (#5 seed in the North) had a serious case of the Garden jitters and except for Pat Freiermuth (18 points) had a horrible shooting night. The accurate shooting that carried the Sachems past three higher seeds in the North sectionals vanished in the state semis.

Freshman Noah Fernandes was hard to contain

Freshman Noah Fernandes was hard to contain

The Bulldogs (22-3) were relentless. Almost every Pentucket shot was a contested one while on offense Old Rochester just attacked the rim.

Four Bulldogs average double figures and three of them William Santos (16), Jordan Menard (13), and Ryan Beatty (13) reached that plateau in this game.

The Sachems got off to a dreadful start. Pat Freiermuth’s layup 1 ½ minutes into the game was their only basket in the first eight minutes. They missed fourteen shots, including a number of layups, and had seven turnovers. Meanwhile ORR collected twelve points including the final eight of the quarter. Five different Bulldogs contributed points in the 12-2 start.

That start would have doomed most teams but the Sachems were able to hang around even though they never found the long-range accuracy carried them through the North to the Garden. Old Rochester missed a lot of shots too.

Pentucket made two serious runs at the lead in the second half but both times the Bulldogs responded with consecutive points to deny the team from West Newbury.

Jordan Menard hit two straight 3-pointers in the third quarter

Jordan Menard hit two straight 3-pointers in the third quarter

Brendan Sullivan had a three in a collection of five points that brought Pentucket to within seven (29-22) 2 ½ minutes into the second half. ORR answered with a free throw by William Santos and two straight 3’s from Jordan Menard restoring, in the process, Old Rochester’s advantage to fourteen.

Pentucket’s best chance came early in the final quarter. A Pat Beaton layup off an Old Rochester turnover and four points from Pat Freiermuth suddenly had the Sachems within two possessions (42-36) with 6 ½ minutes left. Play some defense. Make some three’s and see what happens at the end. None of that happened. Instead there were three more Pentucket turnovers up against a three by Ryan Beatty and a slashing layup and two free throws from William Santos. Back to twelve went the ORR lead (49-36) and Pentucket never recovered.

Pat Freiermuth (18 points) scores in traffic

Pat Freiermuth (18 points) scores in traffic

Old Rochester advances to the D3 state finals and the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday facing either Hoosac or Uxbridge.

Remarkable season for Pentucket of the Cape Ann League. Most of the playing time went to seniors and their poise against the higher seeds in the North carried the day for the team.

Sophomore Pat Freiermuth will be back and will surely draw plenty of defensive consideration next season as the lone returning starter. Pat ended up with 22 rebounds against Old Rochester.

Old Rochester is out of the South Coast Conference.

Where is the school? It is not in Rochester but in Mattapoisett. Okay, where’s Mattapoisett? It is about sixty miles from Providence and Boston down in the southeast corner of Massachusetts.

The Bulldogs brought nine busloads of fans to the Garden. There was plenty of red on one side of the Garden but some of it belonged to some early Watertown fans.

Old Rochester box

Pentucket box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Pat Beaton finds an opening down the lane

Pat Beaton finds an opening down the lane

Pat Freiermuth blocks

Pat Freiermuth blocks

Looking for a rebound

Looking for a rebound

Pentucket Garden photo

Pentucket Garden photo

James Cleary (40) and Patrick McDonough (20)

James Cleary (40) and Patrick McDonough (20)

Ben Thornton (51)

Ben Thornton (51)

Mitch Midwood

Mitch Midwood

Brendan Sullivan looks to pass

Brendan Sullivan looks to pass

Will Sullivan and Jeff Porter try to double-team Noah Fernandes

Will Sullivan and Jeff Porter try to double-team Noah Fernandes

 

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Hamilton-Wenham recovers to rout Cathedral 64-35 in D4 state semfinals

Marcus Zegarowski (24 points) floats in for two

Marcus Zegarowski (24 points) floats in for two

Nolan Wilson (13 points) scored all his points in the second half

Nolan Wilson (13 points) scored all his points in the second half

(Boston MA) It was as dramatic a change as you’ll ever see come over two basketball teams in a game.

For twelve minutes one team (Cathedral) was quick and made shots while the other team (Hamilton-Wenham) looked a step slow and couldn’t hit anything.  That disparity sent the South champion Panthers (17-8) off to a 12-5 first quarter lead and the team from Boston was still up 18-12 halfway through the second quarter.

After that the dramatic change took place and the undefeated North champion Generals (24-0) put everything together to overwhelm Cathedral, 64-35, and win the Division 4 state semifinals on Monday afternoon at the TD Garden.

The reasons for the change?  One was the HW zone defense.  The Generals had size and Cathedral had limited good looks at the 3’s they generally take.  The Panthers still tried to live long range and had almost no offensive rebounds or layups.  The other reason for the HW turnaround was sophomore point guard Marcus Zegarowski (24 points).  His ability to run an offense became more and more evident as the game went on.  Marcus created for himself and he also set up teammates (6 assists).  The Panthers ran a number of man-to-man defenders at him but his quickness opened up shots from near and far.  Marcus was able to get to the rim for five scores.

Moses Flowers dribbles and Nikos Lara defends

Moses Flowers dribbles and Nikos Lara defends

But in the early going Cathedral looked to be the better team.  Though smaller than HW, they connected twice from long range (Trevor Lynch and Moses Flowers) and forced three Generals’ turnovers in the first quarter.

Two layups by Julian Howell and a converted rebound by Trevor Lynch in the first four minutes of the second quarter started to make believers of some of the upset-hopers in the crowd.

But before that second quarter was over the Generals had rattled off ten unanswered points to hold a 22-18 halftime advantage.

The last minute of that first half (eight HW points) was a foretaste of Hamilton-Wenham’s domination to come.  Marcus Zegarowski started it with a steal and layup. (Cathedral had three turnovers in the final minute.)  Then after a turnover, reserve Nick DiMarino drained a three.  After yet another turnover Max Zegarowski finished the pull-away final minute with three of his own to finish the quarter.

Marcus Zegarowski gets to the rim

Marcus Zegarowski gets to the rim

You thought maybe Cathedral would regroup at halftime.  They were only down four.  You thought wrong.  HW was just getting started.  The Generals added eleven more in a row to start the third quarter before Christopher Alzate hit a three for Cathedral.  That basket cut the Cathedral deficit to 33-21.

Plenty of time for the Panthers to regroup with 1 ½ quarters remaining.  But as I said before, the Generals weren’t finished.  The rest of the quarter was all Hamilton-Wenham.  The Panthers tried to tighten up on the perimeter but HW then had husky 6-4 Nolan Wilson (13 points) getting single coverage in close.  The Generals milked that mismatch for eight points.  Meanwhile Marcus Zegarowski added his ten points to the 26-point HW quarter.  The team from the Central Catholic League had only the 3-pointer to show for the quarter.

When that quarter ended the Generals were in complete command, 48-21.  That quarter was either beautiful or horrific depending on the team you were with but there was definitely no middle ground!

If there had been a Mercy Rule, as in softball, this one would have ended after three quarters but it didn’t.  I was glad for that because both teams had the opportunity to give their entire rosters a chance to play at the Garden.

Jimmy Campbell

Jimmy Campbell

Senior Jimmy Campbell collected thirteen rebounds for the Generals.

Hamilton-Wenham will play for the Division 4 state title on Friday night at WPI at 7:45PM.

Cathedral won the state D4 title in 2006, 2007, and 2009.

HW coach Doug Hoak won a state title coaching the Generals baseball team back in the day.

Hamilton-Wenham is from the Cape Ann League.

Cathedral had twenty-five turnovers while the Generals had only eight.

Hamilton-Wenham box

Cathedral box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Marcus Zegarowski

Marcus Zegarowski

Max Zegarowski

Max Zegarowski

Nick DiMarino clicked twice from long range

Nick DiMarino clicked twice from long range

HW whiteout

HW whiteout

tie up

tie up

Trevor Lynch

Trevor Lynch

prom question

prom question

 

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