NHIAA Boys' Basketball: Memorial's quest for playoff bye continuesBy ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 13. 2018 11:51PM
MANCHESTER — Although the Manchester Memorial High School boys’ basketball team has its sights set on this year’s Division I championship game, the Crusaders also have a more immediate goal: finishing among the top three teams in the Division I standings.
The top-three teams will earn a bye in the 13-team tournament, and a bye will undoubtedly make the road to Durham — the site for this year’s title game — a little smoother.
Memorial entered Tuesday night’s matchup with Trinity in fifth place, and remained in the hunt for a bye by beating the Pioneers 61-48 at McHugh Gymnasium.
“It’s the first goal in a series of goals for us,” Memorial coach Danny Bryson said. “If we can do our part in our last five games, I think we’ll be set up pretty good to get a top-three seed. The extra rest and the chance to go out and scout a team right before you’re going to play them is huge.”
Memorial (10-3) did most of its damage at the free-throw line, where it made 22 of 29 attempts. Trinity made more field goals than Memorial (20 to 18), but was 3 for 8 on free throws.
The Pioneers (1-13) showed plenty of energy, but had no finfinishing kick. Trinity was within six points with seven minutes to play, but failed to get any closer.
“The bench isn’t deep right now,” Trinity coach Jim Migneault said. “We have one kid injured and can only really play two off the bench. Most of these guys played JV last year and the pace of the (varsity) game is so different. By the time the fourth quarter gets here I think they’re gassed.”
Manny Alisandro led the Memorial offense with 13 points. Jake Santiago and Michael Roumraj each finished with 11 for the Crusaders, who outscored Trinity 21-14 in the fourth.
“They’ve got so much talent,” Migneault said. “They can go inside/outside, and they play tough defense. The defense is what’s going to do it in the tournament, and they played hard on the defensive end.”
Junior guard Wil Spencer led Trinity with 15. Athiei Bol added 10, and Thomas Evans tossed in eight.
“It was a city game — one of those scratch-and-claw games,” Bryson said. “Our energy was there tonight, but in the first half we were settling for 3s. In the second half we started going down low and it opened up the outside. I think in the fourth quarter we hit three (3-pointers) in a row.”
It was a 10-10 game after one quarter and Trinity had an 18-14 lead with less than three minutes to play in the half, but Memorial closed the second quarter with a 9-1 run to take a 23-20 lead at halftime.
The Crusaders missed each of their nine 3-point attempts in the first half.
Things began to get away from Trinity in the third, when Memorial used an 11-2 spurt to take a 10-point lead, 34-24, with 4:18 remaining in the quarter.
The Pioneers kept battling, however, and were within six, 40-34, entering the final eight minutes.
Portsmouth, Winnacunnet, Exeter and Bedford are the teams that began the week ahead of Memorial in the Division I standings.
“I think everyone is standings-watching right now,” Bryson said. “Everyone is gunning for a top-three spot.”