A summer edition of the Thursday Thoughts takes a look at coaching changes from all four divisions, news & notes from the summer as well as a preview of Saturday’s Twin State basketball classic at Hanover high school.
We are back this weekend with full coverage of both the boys & girls Twin State games as the top seniors from New Hampshire take on the top seniors from Vermont at Hanover high school Saturday.
The girl’s game begins at 1 o’clock with the boy’s game to follow at 3 o’clock.
Justin McIsaac, Jennifer Chick-Ruth & I will call the game LIVE on MOSN (you can listen to both games right here on NHsportspage) and we will have all the highlights plus the post-game interview with both of the New Hampshire teams. Conant head coach Eric Saucier will join us in a three man booth for the boy’s game.
We have covered two of the last three Twin State games on video and it is worth noting our boys’ team is 3-0 since McIsaac and I saved the day by bringing them fruit in the lay-up line in 2014 at Keene State College. The 30 for 30 on that day with Eli Hodgsdon fighting back tears as he recounts the story of McIsaac & I handing him a banana in pre-game lay-ups will be emotionally devastating.
As always..not all heroes wear capes..
Before we get to the players chosen to represent the Granite State on Saturday let’s take a look at some of the coaching changes since we signed off in late March.
Jim Migneault was named head coach at Trinity…….so why wasn’t it bigger news?
When the Trinity basketball job opened up after a 2014 Final Four run behind head coach Dave Keefe (now the head coach at Manchester Central), Carmen Giampetruzzi (a soon to be senior pitcher at Boston College) and Wenyen Gabriel (heading into his sophomore season at Kentucky) it was the premier opening in the state. Keefe had led Trinity to 8 Final Four appearances in 9 seasons and few programs around the state were more high profile.
Top assistant Matt Lemieux (a Central and Colby Sawyer alum) took over and led the Pioneers to a first round upset of Nashua South in 2015 and a quarterfinal appearance. Trinity then snuck into the tourney in 2016 as the 16 seed before an 0-18 season with a very young team a year ago.
The trend is obviously going in the wrong direction but there are several factors at work to explain the sudden decline.
If you’re going to be the head coach at Trinity fundraising is going to have to be a huge part of your agenda. Unlike the public schools in Manchester you’re counting on families that can pay tuition or are able to provide the assistance for those that need it to build your sports program.
Keefe hit a cycle, as far as players & parents, that would be extremely hard to duplicate. Giampetruzzi’s father (Big) Carmen was a 2,000 point scorer at New Hampshire College and is personal friends with Dave. As was the case with Rich Otis and Frank Rhoades whose sons’ Ryan (point guard) and Brad (shooting guard) were key members of a championship team in 2013. All-state guard Cormac Fitzpatrick played at the school until leaving to play for his father Mike at Manchester Memorial as a senior in addition his son Patrick, who was an all-state shooting guard for the Pioneers. Keefe and Mike Fitzpatrick are cousins.
Then add the Madol brothers (Richard & David) and the Gabriel brothers (Mabor & Wenyen) and you have your nucleus for a nearly unprecedented eight year run to Durham.
Keefe was able to pull from his circle of family & friends to build a dominant program but there were other factors at work that no longer exist for the program Migneault now takes over.
In the past towns like Hooksett and Candia have sent their high school students to Manchester Central (Tyler Roche for example was a Hooksett kid). Parents might choose not to send their child to Central and instead choose Trinity, literally a ¼ mile down the road.
Today many of those towns have voted to send their students to schools like Pinkerton Academy, Candia being an example. So what you now may see are parents who would have chosen to pay for their son or daughter to go to Trinity now happy to send their kids to Pinkerton Academy at no cost. That is going to cut into the amount of kids enrolling at Trinity.
Add to that the fundraising factor, a role Keefe was excellent at, and you see why Trinity has struggled the last two seasons. Whether it was the presence of longtime friend Stan Spirou of Southern New Hampshire or Dave Bonner coming into golf tournaments with Spurs gear as raffle prizes few coaches could run a better fundraiser than Dave Keefe. As someone who played in three consecutive Trinity Basketball golf tournaments at the Derryfield Country Club with his friends, take it from me..
That was never Matt Lemieux’s strength and in his defense, it wasn’t what he signed up for. What has become clear is that it is an integral part of having success at a small catholic school like Trinity.
That is why you hear the whispers that Trinity may petition down to Division II after the coming season. Where a school like Bishop Guertin can draw in students from Massachusetts Trinity is a Manchester school in the heart of the city. You need to draw kids in from that area with towns like Candia and Hooksett serving as outliers.
Jim Migneault was a very good hire; he’s won a Division I title (in 2011) and led teams to Durham a number of times. The question is will Trinity be able to compete in Division I over the next five years or is a move down to Division II in the cards?
Their best two players from a year ago Jordan Santos & Will Spencer have moved on to prep school so the rebuilding of an 0-18 basketball team has to feel like running out of oxygen tanks 1,000 feet from the summit of Everest.
That is the reason why there was little buzz around the job this summer. Three years ago Lemieux was the choice over some very strong candidates, some that were made public and others that never were. Migneault had interest in the Memorial job but he is a better fit at Trinity with his background at Bishop Guertin. He’s a very good hire for Trinity.
The question is whether Trinity is still an elite job in 2017 and moving forward?
Coaching news plus summer news & notes…and North Country power rankings because I can’t help myself………….
It wasn’t easy for Danny Bryson to step away from Manchester West but when the call is your alma mater it is a hard one not to take after Jack Quirk decided to step down as Manchester Memorial head coach after a long coaching career. Quirk was one of my favorite interviews, you never knew where the conversation was going and he had some very bright and insightful thoughts on where the AAU culture is taking New Hampshire basketball. A season at Memorial usually contained about six or seven transactions whether it was players coming, going or suspended and if you ever saw Quirk on the sidelines it was something to behold. Let’s just say the officials weren’t the only ones likely to get an earful, often it was the coach at the other end of the scorer’s table. He will be missed, Quirk did an awful lot for the kids in Manchester and no one ever questioned his knowledge of the game. Danny Bryson stepping in is a home run hire for the Crusaders, those kids are going to play hard for him next season. Bryson is a city kid, he knows the challenges as well as the ceiling the talent in that school gives him. He’s built up a lot of credibility with the players in Manchester and after keeping Manchester West relevant in an age where many sports teams have struggled mightily his goal in Year 1 is a trip to Durham. A trip Memorial has made under Quirk in two of the past four seasons “ I was obviously a little hesitant at first when I got the kids together for summer league but all of that quickly went away when we started working together,” said Bryson of his first summer as head coach of the Crusaders. “ We’ve had really good numbers and the kids are really buying in. We can score, everyone in the division knows that, but to be an elite team next season we have to make a commitment to defense and that’s where the work is being put in now.”……………Justin Gorham steps in for Bryson at Manchester West and brings his 5 players in 5 players out philosophy he used at Goffstown four years ago. West is one of the most athletic teams in Division II so how the strategy to go to your 10th man plays out will be interesting to see….….Justin Stroup has taken over for the retired Paul Greenlaw at Profile. Greenlaw didn’t want to leave the cupboard bare for his longtime assistant and so Stroup will go into Year 1 with players like River Baker, Cam Hoyt, Jordan Brusseau and Dylan Laleme coming back after finishing as the 9 seed a year ago. Profile has been known as a half court team that will mix up their zone looks for the past decade so where Stroup takes this group will be interesting to see. This is a team that should have designs on a run to the Final Four. With Littleton down next season (down means they might go 14-4..) the door is ajar for someone new to come out of the North Country……………..Speaking of which here are your unofficial off-season North Country Power Rankings: 1) Woodsville ( I feel a big Garret Olsen senior year coming…) 2) Littleton (Danny Kubkowski is going to figure out quickly how many easy baskets he got from Logan Briggs…it’s his turn to be the defensive stopper) 3) Groveton (they’re going to try to beat you with depth and Austin Lesperance has to score 17 points at a minimum for them to beat good teams) 4) Profile (see above) 5) America’s Team The Lisbon Panthers (I’m hearing very good things about Josh Woods..) 6) Colebrook ( this could be the year Buddy Trask is sitting for most of the second halves of games….which is a crime against nature) 7) Lin-Wood ( Hard to find a better AD/principal combo than Casey Murphy & Scott Currier….but they can’t help them win games) 8) Gorham (If the job opens let Lance Legere be player/coach………….I’m not kidding) and 9) Pittsburg-Canaan (see you Columbus Day weekend)……..Leo Gershgorin is the new head basketball coach at Con Val and it’s a very good hire for the Cougars. Gershgorin spent last season as the head coach at Wilton-Lyndeborough and he brings to the role the exact qualities this job needs; a young energetic coach who knows the game and is going to spend his Saturday’s working with not only his varsity players but the youth programs. This is the model Eric Saucier follows at Conant and for a school like Con Val who has big enrollment numbers but little success annually in basketball it all starts at the youth level. Hiring a veteran coach wasn’t the move, it was about hiring someone who will bring energy to that program and Gershgorin was the perfect candidate.
For athletes on the seacoast: If you are looking for strength and conditioning to improve your game for the upcoming school year reach out to Craig Favara at Access Acceleration in Exeter. Craig has worked with many of the best athletes on the seacoast and is in the process of signing up athletes for his fall program.
For information you can reach Craig at 778-4890.
New Hampshire Sportspage will run our first ever Fall Basketball league for varsity and JV teams.
I’ve been speaking to coaches for the past three weeks about this but in the fall we will run our first ever fall league out of The Rim sports complex in Hampton.
Standings, scoring leaders, video highlights of selected games as well as a weekly write up on the league.
Coaches who are interested can reach out to me at email@example.com
Twin State Basketball Boys’ Preview
Exeter head coach Jeff Holmes will lead a New Hampshire boys’ team looking for its fourth straight win over our rivals to the West. Lebanon head coach Kieth Matte, who coached his team to the 2017 Division II title, will serve as Holmes’ assistant coach.
“ It’s a good group and with only three practices they need to come together pretty quickly. I think they have,” said Holmes of his team. “ We put in three sets, just simple sets, one hitters, two hitters, that can get our shooters looks. Coach Matte and I each put in an out of bounds play and that will be the extent of our playbook,” joked Holmes.
Through two practices Joey Glynn and Cal Connelly have lived up to their billing as the best players in the state while several others have stood out as well. “ Matt Giroux has been shooting lights out in the first two practices. He’s a guy who was the focus of the defense all through his career so to just be one of the five guys on the floor is going to really allow him some good looks.”
The two Division IV players have been very pleasant surprises to the Division I coach from Exeter. “Jackson Rivers has been tremendous on the boards and we are looking for him to play a role for us on Saturday,” said Holmes. “ In an all-star game players aren’t going to be afraid to shoot, so there are going to be plenty of rebounds to be had and Jackson can make a big impact for us there.”
Wilton-Lyndeborough forward Trey Carrier has stood out as well. “ He’s a very good athlete and a big with some range. We have a few of those guys between Cal, Steve Natola, Griffin Curtis, Logan Galanes and Trey. Galanes is a very good athlete and someone who will play a big role for us.”
Holmes will have two point guards on Saturday that won over 100 games in their high school careers in KJ Matte and Shon Parham. “ Shon is very good,” said Holmes, “ you can see why he won 43 straight games. KJ is very good as well and both will run the offense for us.”
Here is the New Hampshire Roster for Saturday:
Joey Glynn of Portsmouth- The NHsportspage Division I Player of the Year is headed to Tilton Prep in the fall to play for Marcus O’Neill after a terrific career for the Clippers under Jim Mulvey. Glynn is going to give Vermont fits with his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and square up to take you to basket. This is a very good rebounding team, one of the best New Hampshire has had in recent memory, and Glynn is the best rebounder on the team.
Cal Connelly of Spaulding- Connelly was the coaches’ choice for Player of the Year in Division I and will also head to Tilton Prep to play basketball in the fall. Connelly (16.8 ppg) sacrificed some of his own scoring opportunities to serve as more of a facilitator in his senior year. Enabling players like Ari Breakfield (13.6) and freshman Isaiah Rose more looks in President Tim Cronin’s offense. Look for Connelly to pull a Vermont big away from the basket, with little scouting in a game like this Connelly is likely to get good looks in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Logan Galanes of Keene- This is a game where Galanes can really break out. He’s a pure scorer with range and in a game like this you’re going to get opportunities to score in transition or secondary fast breaks. Galanes led all of Division I in scoring at 24.5 ppg. and was often the best player on the floor in the Division I vs Division II senior game.
Trey Carrier of Wilton-Lyndeborough- In naming Littleton center Logan Briggs Player of the Year in Division IV I commented on how he deserved the honor as the best defensive player in the division but if I had one game to win Carrier would be the player I’d want. Carrier has the size and range to be a key player for New Hampshire on Saturday, just as his former teammate Jordan Litts did two years ago in this game. Carrier will benefit from not having an entire defense focused on stopping him and in the flow of the offense with four other players on the court who can match his abilities he is going to have an opportunity for a big game on Saturday.
Ryan Milliken of Lebanon- Milliken joins an exclusive club of players who were chosen to play in both the CHaD all-star football game and the Twin State basketball classic. Milliken could have easily been the MVP in the CHaD game and has to be a favorite to take home those honors in this game as well. If you can get the 5’7 guard out in the open floor he is going to give Vermont fits, add to that he is playing Saturday in Hanover’s gym for about the 100th time and you see quickly why he is one of the players to watch Saturday afternoon.
KJ Matte of Lebanon- Matte may be the choice to run the point Saturday afternoon, whether it is as a starter or off the bench. Few players see the floor better than the 1,000 point scorer who played in a whopping six Final Four games over his career. Matte was slowed by injuries as a senior but is back to 100% and will thrive running the New Hampshire offense and defending the point on Saturday.
Steve Natola of Exeter- Jeff Holmes brings in one of his own guys and gives New Hampshire another 6’4 rebounder with range. Natola will stretch the floor with his ability to knockdown three’s (he killed our team in the seacoast tournament so take it from me…). Natola is a smart player who worked out all last summer with Cal Connelly and Integrity Hoops so he will have a natural chemistry on the floor with his one-time rival.
Trevor Hunt of Belmont- The 6’4 power forward is a perfect player to bring off the bench to provide rebounding and scoring down low. Hunt was a 1,000 point scorer at Belmont and has a game suited to run the high pick & roll at the top of the key. Hunt can score against contact but his biggest asset to this team will be his defense in the post and his ability to keep balls alive coming off the rim. He’ll play very hard for New Hampshire on Saturday.
Matt Giroux of Concord- Giroux has great range and is a player who you ride for five minute stretches when he gets hot. Playing at Concord he flew a little under the radar but Giroux was facing everyone’s best defender on a nightly basis and still went over 1,000 points for his career, finishing his senior year 6th in Division I scoring at 18.2 ppg.
Jackson Rivers of Epping- Another very good rebounder who could make a real difference in this game. Rivers has the size and athleticism to play with anyone in the bigger divisions. If you get him out on the break he goes hard to the basket and Holmes commented to me after the team’s first practice that Rivers was all over the glass. Throw the divisions out the window, both Carrier & Rivers are capable of making a big impact on Saturday.
Griffin Curtis of Salem- Here’s my darkhorse pick for game MVP. Curtis can score in the lane or from behind the arc and gives Holmes another big to defend the post. Curtis isn’t known as a rebounder but he can flat out score and if Matte or Parham finds him in transition he is one of the best finishers in the state.
Shon Parham of Portsmouth- Parham is as steady as they come. In three years as Portsmouth’s starting point guard Parham helped the Clippers to a record of 64-2, winning both the Division I & II championships. Parham is a very good on the ball defender and he’s a point guard who will get the ball up the floor with the pass, looking to find shooters like Connelly, Galanes and Giroux. Parham is deadly with the corner three when left alone and can run the pick & roll with Glynn in his sleep. He also joins Milliken as a part of the exclusive club of players who played in both the ChaD all-star game and the Twin State Classic.
I wanted to personally thank the parents that supported our team during their sons’ high school career. Eight of the twelve players on the New Hampshire came from families who chose to support our team as Gold Level members so a very big thank you from Pete, Jen, Jon, Justin & I goes to The Natola’s, The Connelly’s, The Rivers family, The Matte’s, The Galanes family, The Carrier’s, The Curtis’s and The Hunt family.
Twin State Girls Basketball Preview
New Concord high school head coach and former Sunapee coach Tim LaTorra will lead New Hampshire against Vermont Saturday at one o’clock. “ For us it starts with Meghan (Cramb) and Katie (Frederick) in the front court. Both of those girls had outstanding careers and I’m looking for them to player a major role on Saturday,” said LaTorra of his team. “ After that we are guard heavy so we are going to look to push the ball up the floor at every opportunity. Vermont lost to us last year so I know they’re going to come out and play hard, we’ll have to be ready to go.”
Team New Hampshire
Taylor Darrell of Bow- Taylor, a 5’4 guard, was an All-State player her junior year and was her team’s MVP. She will be going to the University of Delaware to play lacrosse.
Michaela Biron of Colebrook Academy- A 5’6” guard Michaela is a 1,000 point scorer, a first team All-State player her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, and broke the Division 4 playoff record for points in a game with 45. She was also a part of two runner-up teams. Next year she will be attending and playing basketball at NHTI in Concord.
Lydia Randall of Monadnock- a 5’10” forward from Monadnock High School Lydia was second team All-State her junior year and first team All-State her senior year. Her high school team won the Division 3 state championship in 2017. Next year she will play basketball and attend Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Meghan Wheeler of Conant- a 5’5” guard from Conant High School Meghan was a first team All-State selection, a member of the All-State All-Academic team, and NH scholar athlete, and a member of the Monadnock All-Region team. In 2015 her high school team won the Division 3 state championship. Next year she will be attending and playing basketball at Roanoke College in Virginia.
Faith Larpenter of Sunapee- a 5’8” guard/forward from Sunapee High School Faith was a big part of Sunapee’s three consecutive state championships and finished her career with a 72 game win streak. She is a 1,000 scorer, and is a two time First Team All-State Player. She plans to play basketball and attend NHTI in Concord, NH.
Riley Bennett of Bishop Brady- a 5’6” guard from Bishop Brady High School Riley is the recipient of the prestigious 2017 Jack Ford award for Division 2, a 1,000 point scorer, and a three time Christmas tournament all-tournament team member. She was a second team All-State selection as a senior and a four year All-Academic team member. Riley plans to play basketball and attend Norwich University.
Emily Britton of Winnacunnet- Emily is a 5’7 guard/forward. In her senior year she was a part of Winnacunnet’s final four run her junior year and selected to honorable mention for All-State, and was a second team All-State selection her senior year. Next year she plans to attend Penn State University.
Cassandra Stapelfeld of Hollis-Brookline- a 5’6 guard from Hollis-Brookline High School Cassandra was a first team All-State selection her junior and senior seasons, a 1,000 point scorer and her team MVP her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She was also a member of the All-Academic All-State team. Next year she will attend and play basketball at Endicott College.
Stevie Orton of Gilford- a 5’10 forward Stevie is a first team All-State player, lakes region player of the year, and a winner of the prestigious Jack Ford award for Division 3. In her junior year, her team won the Division 3 State Championship. She also recorded 18 double doubles with points and rebounds her senior year. Next year she will be attending and playing basketball at Snow College in Utah.
Jenna Chrabolowski of Manchester Central- a 5’10 Guard from Manchester Central Jenna was selected to second team All-State her senior year, and the All-State All-Academic team. Next year she will be playing Division 1 field hockey at Long Island University.
Katie Frederick of Sunapee- a 6’3” forward from Sunapee High School Katie was named Ms. Basketball for the state of NH and Division 4 player of the year her senior year, and first team All-State her sophomore, junior, and senior year.. She is a 1,500 point scorer and a 1,000 rebounder. She was valedictorian of her class and a part of the All-Academic All-state team. Next year, she plans to play basketball and attend St. Lawrence University.
Meghan Cramb of Bishop Guertin- a 5’8” guard/forward from Bishop Guertin High School Meghan was selected to first team all-state her junior and senior seasons. She was also a USA today NH second team all-star her junior year, and first team her senior year. Meghan was the Division 1 player of the year, and the NH telegraph player of the year her senior year. She was a member of the All-State All-Academic team. She was also a part of the 2017 Division 1 state championship team. Next year she will play basketball and attend Assumption College.
Look for all the highlights, play by play & post-game interviews on Sunday morning and remember you can listen to both games LIVE right on our website.