Roger Brown's High School Basketball: Madness has arrived
What has been an exceptional high school boys' basketball season in Manchester became even better Tuesday night when Manchester Central, Trinity of Manchester and Manchester Memorial each won a preliminary-round game in the Division I tournament.
Top-seeded Central and second-seeded Trinity entered their games as heavy favorites, but 12th-seeded Memorial produced the preliminary round's only upset. The Crusaders knocked off fifth-seeded Bishop Guertin of Nashua, 69-59. BG returned most of the key pieces from a team that lost to Trinity in last year's Division I championship game.Trevon Maughn (20) and
Kabongo Ngalakulondi (14) were Memorial's leading scorers against BG. The Crusaders outscored the Cardinals 23-13 in the fourth quarter.
That victory earned Memorial (9-10) a date with fourth-seeded Londonderry (15-4) in tonight's quarterfinals. The teams last met on opening night, when Londonderry made 10 3-pointers and posted a 74-52 victory in Manchester.
"They're a lot different team now," Londonderry coach Nate Stanton said. "We'll have to put a full game together."
That's something Londonderry failed to do in the preliminary round, when it needed a late basket to knock off 13th-seeded Salem 43-42.
"It was the first playoff game these kids have ever won," Stanton said. "We're used to being the hunted, not the hunters.
"This is an opportunity for us. I don't know the last time Londonderry has been to UNH (for the Division I semifinals)."
Tonight's other quarterfinal-round matchups:
No. 8 Exeter at No. 1 Central
This will be the third meeting between these teams this season. Central (19-0) beat Exeter (11-8) 66-53 in the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament's championship game — a game that did not count in the Division I standings — and then outscored the Blue Hawks 30-4 during the first quarter of a 67-56 victory in Exeter.
No. 7 Bedford at No. 2 Trinity
Trinity (18-2) handed Bedford (12-7) a 66-45 loss in Manchester during the regular-season meeting, but the Bulldogs have won 11 in a row since a 1-7 start. The Pioneers will be without starting guard Ryan Otis, who has been suspended for violating school policy, according to multiple sources affiliated with the school.
While refusing to name the player, Trinity coach Dave Keefe did confirm that a member of the team had been suspended "for at least a couple games."
"That's about all I can say," Keefe said. "We'll try to give Bedford the best game we possibly can."
No. 6 Winnacunnet at No. 3 Merrimack
Merrimack posted a 49-41 victory over Winnacunnet of Hampton during the regular season. Winnacunnet guard Rich Ruffin played limited minutes because of an ankle injury and was held to two points in the loss.
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THE top-seeded Hinsdale (21-0) girls will try to complete a perfect season when they face third-seeded Sunapee (19-2) in Saturday's Division III championship game at Plymouth State University (noon).
The Pacers, who have won 45 of their last 46 games, handed Sunapee both of its losses this season (56-47 at home, and 53-34 on the road). Freshman center Kate Frederick had 10 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Sunapee's 49-39 semifinal victory against second-seeded Groveton on Monday.
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SATURDAY'S Division IV championship game between third-seeded Campbell of Litchfield (19-2) and fourth-seeded Fall Mountain of Langdon (19-2) will feature teams that are built around defense.
Eight of Campbell's 18 regular-season opponents failed to score more than 29 points, and the Cougars haven't surrendered more than 39 points in their three tournament games. Fall Mountain has held its opponent to 37 points or fewer in 13 of its 21 contests.
Saturday's game will be played at Southern New Hampshire University, and is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. The teams did not meet during the regular season.
Roger Brown covers high school basketball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.