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The Great Bay C.C Final Thursday Thoughts Part II

By Dave Haley, 04/03/17, 5:45AM EDT

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Derek Stevens of the Belmont Red Raiders

 We begin with a thoughtful piece entitled….

 FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WE NEED A SHOTCLOCK!!!!!!!!!!

 My ten year old daughter FaceTime’s with my 90 year old grandmother, Shia LaBeouf seems to be live streaming his life 24/7 while apparently being homeless and people in China are using face recognition technology to stop people from stealing toilet paper (….what?.......).

 You’re telling me New Hampshire is trapped in 1956 with no shot clock when our neighbors to the south in Massachusetts have had a shot clock for years?

 There were instances in the tournament where a lack of a shot clock affected the play and it happened to have occurred in the two best games of the post-season.

 The first was the Division IV final between Littleton & Groveton. A late run brought Groveton to within a basket with 3:30 left, Littleton then proceeded to run over two minutes off the clock. Groveton wasn’t sitting back in a 2-3 zone refusing to guard Littleton; they were chasing them, for over two minutes.

 All the momentum of the event was sucked out of the room as Littleton played catch 35 feet from the basket. This wasn’t poor coaching; this was simply taking advantage of a bad rule. Instead of having to answer the Groveton run with a huge possession, like you’ll see countless times over the next two rounds of the NCAA tournament, Littleton essentially played hide & go seek until the clock ran down or Groveton was forced to intentionally foul them.

 The second instance was the terrific Division I semifinal game between Portsmouth and Winnacunnet. The Clippers led throughout but in the second half the man to man defense played by Jay McKenna’s Warriors was as good as any defense I’ve seen in the last 10 years.

 Portsmouth, who was very clearly trying to score, could not for over a minute and a half. With a shot clock in place like it is in some other states this would have forced Cody Graham or Shon Parham to take a desperation shot as the clock expired with Winnacunnet reacting to the clock by being well positioned for the rebound.

 Instead what happened was Winnacunnet had to play 100 seconds of intense man to man defense against the best offensive team in New Hampshire with their season hanging in the balance. If you’d like to replicate that intensity go sprint up and down your stairs 12 times. Eventually you wear down and Portsmouth gets a good look. The reward for great defense in this case was exhaustion.

 You see the same 37-33 tournament scores that I do. My problem isn’t as much with stalling as it is with not rewarding a key possession. Teams don’t have to run good offense when they theoretically have eight minutes to produce something. It hurts the product and it hurts these players. They don’t have to react and make plays in sequence because if it doesn’t work…well just pull the ball back out to midcourt and run something else. It doesn’t work that way in college, the NBA or in quite a few states.

 The lament I hear is money. ‘We can’t afford a shot clock it would cost about $1,500 a year.’ Well luckily I’m here to help. Any school that claims they can’t raise the money I’ll guarantee you the $1,500 through Adrenaline Fundraising. We’ll raise the money in 10 days, guaranteed, and we’ll raise the level of play in New Hampshire as we do it.

 It’s 2017 and it’s long overdue.

 

 All-State voting should come with a warning label…….

 Stories from the all-state coaches meetings are among my favorite annual rituals and knowing exactly how it plays out is akin to working in a hot dog factory and having someone offer you ‘The best hot dog you’ll ever taste!’ a week later.

 You know far too much.

 These are smart, dedicated and thoughtful people, many of whom I count as my good friends but the process is a joke. A coach of a 15 win team will nominate two players for all-state (and be correct in doing so) while the coach of a 5 win team will nominate four players in the very same division (That. Happened.).

 Coaches will talk up a lesser player because he is a senior, leaving the superior junior player to wait until next year. Friends vote for each other’s players, and not a coach they don’t associate with. Coaches will omit a deserving player because they don’t like him and the very next year the coach of the effected player will turn around and do it to a player who plays for the other coach. All while the only people effected are the actual kids.

 That’s when coaches vote at all. Many don’t. They don’t nominate their players or take part in the voting. Some coaches will talk up a player as a player of the year candidate while several coaches in the room will admit they’ve never seen him play or kept track of their stats (if there was only a website to track such things…)

 This is why I honestly pay very little attention to all-state voting and its results. Again, these are smart insightful people but as a whole the process is a joke. When I make my all-state picks it is based off conversations with coaches ‘Who do you think is better..Player A or Player B?....Who do you think is really the best player on that team?’

 That’s what I base my selections on and theoretically it should be that simple for the coach’s vote but…stop me if you’ve heard this before…politics inevitably come into play.

 Division I, with every team playing one another once and featuring a fairly close fraternity of coaches, is the most accurate year in and year out. Division II is behind them and Division III & IV…with coaches and players who never see each other and don't know each other, are by far the worst. Hence they are always my favorite stories.

 When you hear ‘This coach didn't even know who (player) was??’ and ‘The coaches didn't vote for him to send a message’ we have a real problem.

 Make all-state voting mandatory for all coaches and the votes public. Simple as that.

 Otherwise you’re getting the same confusing results year after year. Again, know this going in, and understand why I personally pay little attention to all-state teams.

 I’ve seen how they make those hot dogs.

 

 The Division IV I know and love might be gone forever…..

  We might have just watched our last small school champion, at least for a very long time. Groveton (with an enrollment of 141 students) won behind a senior class that started playing varsity together as 8th graders. They began that early simply because numbers, or the lack of, dictated it.

 Joining them in the Final Four at Plymouth State University were Derryfield (263), Littleton (213) and Woodsville (228). Derryfield has advanced to eight semifinals in the last nine seasons (do you see why we were having some much fun with the Derryfield parent trying to create the hashtag #darkhorse?...eight out of nine sounds like a fairly high percentage), Littleton has advanced to seven Final Fours in eight years and of the Top 10 schools in terms of enrollment (taken straight from the 2016-17 NHIAA handbook) only Hinsdale (4th) & Nute (10th) missed the tournament. Of the bottom five schools only Lisbon (America’s Team) qualified for the post-season.

 Hall of Fame Colebrook head coach Buddy Trask said in his annual radio appearance with Pete Tarrier & I that he has always gotten about 10% of the kids to come out for the team. When there were 180 total students the Mohawks had 18 kids at tryout. Now that Colebrook’s numbers have dipped to under 130…12 kids’ total.

 What it all means is the smaller teams under 170 kids; Pittsfield, Groveton, Colebrook, Sunapee & Lisbon among them, are only going to be able to compete with the Derryfield, Littleton, Epping (255), Farmington (299), Newmarket (255) and Woodsville teams when those ‘special’ groups come through. Pittsfield in fact has one now with Cam Darrah leading a very good group of returners next season.

 But after Cam and his group leaves? They are right back with the smaller schools in the climb to .500

 The numbers are just too thin and so what you will see at Plymouth State over the next ten years is Littleton, Derryfield (already a staple), along with Farmington, Newmarket and Woodsville as regular participants.

 That to me is kind of sad. What a lot of us love about Division IV is the small town feel and the most authentic basketball fans in the state. As much as Jen & I love the Colebrook/Groveton trip the first weekend of February every year, by as early as next season those two teams might not break 80 points combined.

 The gap has been there for years but the work Buddy does at Colebrook, the run of this terrific Groveton group under Mark Collins and the miracle run by Sam Natti & Lisbon in 2013 obscured what is pretty plain to see. Division IV will likely be an six team race over the next decade, with enrollment being the most important statistic in the division.

 

 Players, Coaches & Parents

 Of all the things I am proud of when it comes to our NHsportspage team it’s our relationship with these kids and the coaches. Having kids cry on your shoulder after their last high school game is the hardest part but the hugs the players give you, like Joey Glynn & Christian Peete after the Division I final or Daegan Perras & Corey Gadwah after the Division IV Final, send a pretty needless reminder of who we do this for. These kids deserve all of this coverage.

 I was struck by a moment after the Division II final. There was my friend Kieth Matte just moments after his team defeated Coe-Brown in a good (closer than the score indicates) final and who is he standing there smiling and talking with? Jen Chick-Ruth.

 That means something, to have that sort of trust. It means something every single time a team invites us into their locker room to share their celebration with us. I never for a moment take that for granted.

 We haven’t connected with the parents though, and that’s a big disappointment. Parents , at about a rate of 90% choose not to support the site they or their sons visit every day and I’m not sure how else to reach them. I count some parents today as friends and they support our efforts with a single donation/registration annually and when I email them in thanks it’s always terrific to hear back from them. To go back & forth about their son’s team or our coverage in general.

 Those are the 8% though and as a completely unique entity we were warned by some very smart consultants that 90% of people will pretend not to hear you when you ask for support.

 So we will try to reach parents every day from here on out as we struggle to stay afloat as a six person team working after hours of our ‘real jobs’.

 Hopefully more parents come on board, I’ll email each and every one on behalf of Jen, Jon, Pete, Justin & Eliot when they do.

 We have the relationship with these kids and the coaches, and we’ll keep working for them. I hope more parents support the coverage of their kids, because there is no other state in New England that has an NHsportspage.

 That’s all…

 

 This and that……….plus bears and mannequins.

 Let’s start with what matters most and that’s the health & the life of Belmont sophomore guard Derek Stevens. While getting ready for school earlier this week Derek collapsed and nearly died. The quick actions of his parents and the medical team that flew him to the hospital in Hanover may have saved his life. That is an unthinkable statement to make about a 16 year old boy. Derek is getting first class medical treatment but fighting for his life at Dartmouth Hitchcock-Medical Center. His teammates, coaches, friends and classmates are showing their support for him and we join them. Derek is a kid we covered twice this year, including just two weeks ago when he scored 22 points against Stevens in the Division III quarterfinals and he was a fun interview after a win over Campbell. This is heartbreaking stuff but we send all of our thoughts & prayers to the Stevens family and the Belmont community. I want to interview Derek Stevens again…………

 Your early favorites for 2018 (I can’t predict what a 17 year old kid is going to do on Twitter let alone whether he is going to prep school so let’s assume everyone is back for now)..Division I: Exeter (yes Josh Morissette is that good..come to the seacoast tournament tonight to see for yourself)……Portsmouth (they’ll miss Parham the same way North missed Ronnie Silva..)….Bedford (Chartier, Mokas, Anderson.) and North (if Alonzo Linton returns)……….Division II…Pembroke, Merrimack Valley (it’s 1991 all over again!!)….Lebanon (how will that defense be?)…..Goffstown (time for Aaron O’Meilia to take over)..and Hollis-Brookline (Simco & Dowling could be dominant)………Division III Kearsarge (by 20 points..)…..Berlin (just about everyone is coming back)…Somersworth (Bryton Early baby)…..St Thomas (the pieces are there) …and Monadnock (Joe Minson….and please don’t yell at Pete again thinking he’s me.)………..Division IV Pittsfield (pre-season #1 )…..Newmarket (pre-season #2)……….Littleton (Kubkowski is the key)…….Derryfield (at this point you pencil them in..) and Woodsville…………….. 10 seconds left in the game down two and one person in the state to choose to take the shot I’ll take Jake Coleman....unless it’s from half court and then I’m taking Corey Gadwah…………Our highest viewed videos of the season: 1) Groveton/Littleton Division IV Final (over 2,100 views) 2) The Four Greatest Games Special 3) Exeter vs Winnacunnet regular season 4) Stevens vs Kearsarge Division III final 5) Winnacunnet vs Memorial (the Freddy Schaake buzzer beater)………….we had over 49,000 unique visitors to the website and 645,000 page views……Your four scoring champions: Logan Galanes (Keene), Jake Sherman (Pembroke), Tayler Mattos (Kearsarge) & Cam Darrah (Pittsfield)..........The all-Interview Team: The Electric Factory (even though they grossly underrated the Kodiak Bear in their Goffstown/Timberlane intro (7th???) and overrated the Sloth Bear…who shouldn’t sniff the top 20 of any Best Bears list), Zach Waterhouse of Winnacunnet (always looking for his suspenders when he talks), Cooper Gorski of John Stark (simply for mocking Jen’s pain), Mat Eberhardt of Goffstown (had to be the first time anyone has ever called out Ryan Milliken), The entire Exeter basketball team (Naked Zebras), Paul Staude (repeat winner), Benny the Bear (said so much without saying anything), Christian Peete of Portsmouth (no explanation needed), Johnny Cadigan of Winnacunnet (an enlightening Robert Kraft Story) and of course the breakout interview star of 2017 Arie Breakfield and his man-bun…………it was very odd not having any Manchester teams in Durham……..I know that’s not the real Reggy and if he’s currently driving a Volvo 85 mph into a wall to test an air bag I’m not going to be very happy about it………The John Zavala All-Glue Guy team (you can’t win without glue guys..) Bob Horgan of Timberlane, Matt Mason of Groveton (obviously), Doug Price of Belmont, Scott VanCoughnett of Hollis-Brookline, Brandon Lemay of Gilford, Griffin Towle of Spaulding, Nick Mokas of Bedford, Jake Santiago of Manchester Memorial, Dylan Bocash of Pittsfield and Lance Legere of Gorham………..Add Stevens high school to your list of gyms you need to see a game in at least once…and by the way no team in the history of basketball celebrated made baskets more than that Stevens team…not even the Globetrotters when they would stop the game to pour confetti on people’s heads………I want to ask Christian Peete where he got the bow & arrow idea but I know it would be a 10 minute story…still might ask him tonight……..Seacoast Tournament Second Round 6:30 tonight at The Rim in Hampton (I’m not banned from there anymore….) Cimo’s Deli (KJ Matte & Ryan Milliken) take on The Fighting McIsaacs (It’s an Exeter/Spaulding/Winnacunnet team and they’re loaded) and then at 8:00 your defending champion NHsportspage team takes on the Prep South team led by Epping’s Nick Fiset and sponsored by Bump & Grind Auto body…and how great is that…admission is 2 bucks.. to help us pay for the gym and officials….come over tonight and watch McIsaac refuse to call timeouts during 12-0 runs even as Cal Connelly & Arie Breakfield plead with him to do it……….we will have coverage of upcoming games on NHsportspage and possibly even live on MOSN.

 

People to Thank……..

 First of all I want to give a very sincere thank you to all of the parents, coaches & players that registered with NHsportspage (and those who soon will…). We love what we do and we can only do it with our readers letting us know they are willing to support all the content we provide with a simple one-time registration. On behalf of Pete, Jennifer, Jon, Justin & Eliot….thank you very much……….Thank you to the coaches who went above & beyond anytime we came out to cover a game; whether it was lining up a sponsor to pay for the trip or encouraging the parents to support the website they read every week. We could not provide this coverage without people like Keith Matte, Jamie Walker, Jeff Holmes, Mark & Louise Collins, Nick Fiset, Trevor Howard, Sam Natti, Buddy Trask, Jay McKenna, Jim Cilley, Mike Rathgeber, Nate Camp, Rob McLaughlin, Kevin Rines & our friends at Mascenic, Jim Mulvey, Mike Larson, Mark Elmendorf, Eric Saucier, Mike Soucy, a HUGE thank you to Jay Darrah and the Pittsfield basketball team…Jen & I have never felt more welcome..Jeff Baumann, Rob Bradley (I owe you lunch), Adam Thurston and everyone at the Groveton Legion for letting me play Hair Metal every time I’m there….

 

 Finally I just wanted to thank Jennifer Chick-Ruth, Jon Kesty, Eliot Bless, Justin McIsaac & Pete Tarrier.

 Jennifer Chick Ruth is the most talented person I have ever worked with in my life and she’s ‘The Franchise’ at NHsportspage….the stuff she puts up with covering McIsaac & I……….good lord. If you are looking to have a highlight video of your son or daughter produced. I mean who is better than Jen?

 Jon Kesty is about as good a person as you’ll ever meet and his work across the state of New Hampshire with his Opioid Awareness 101 team is saving lives. Saving lives. On his off time he covers your kids and stays awake until 2 am doing it…this is an amazing human being.

 I knew the moment I walked into Pelham’s championship locker room a year ago and Kyle Frank looked me in the eyes and said ‘Where’s Pete?’ That I had been defeated…Pete Tarrier is the king of the locker room interview…he’s the best.

 Justin McIsaac is the best play by play guy in New Hampshire…he just is…unless Al Michaels buys a place in Wolfeboro. He should be doing Boston College hockey but I’m happy he’s doing Portsmouth/Winnacunnet with me.

 You don’t realize it but you’d never be reading any of this or watching these videos on our website without Eliot Bless. He’s the guy making the wheels turn…from Kansas City.

 We will have Division I & II all-state picks this weekend and seacoast tournament coverage next week PLUS my favorite video of the year..the post-season highlight video....but I’m signing off for the 2016-17 season with columns like these.

 Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

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