Part II of our look back at the forty-five championship games covered on NHsportspage looks back at each championship game from our first season in 2008 to 2011 and what made each one memorable.
This week look for our season highlight videos to continue, featuring the best moments from the 2019-20 season. We’ll have season highlights for girls basketball, boys basketball, and the post-season.
Today’s column is sponsored by our friends and partners at Core Physicians, with over 15 locations on the seacoast!
Let’s go in chronological order, beginning with our first year in 2008 when my cousin Chris Angellis designed the website. I asked Hanover head coach Tim Winslow how his team had finished the previous season and he very politely responded. “Well, we won the championship...”
Looking back on those first days, when I was interviewing coaches for the preview in my car during my lunch break, I’m amazed at how much time coaches like Jamie Hayes, Jim Mulvey, Dave Keefe and David Smith gave me.
2008 Division IV final: Colebrook 68, Wilton 52
Comments: This was a really, really good Colebrook team. One of the best Division IV teams I’ve ever covered and featuring maybe the top backcourt in all-state guards Ryan Call (the player of the year and current Colebrook athletic director) and Reno Gilbert (who is always great to catch up with at the annual Groveton/Colebrook game).
Wilton was very good in their own right. Sean Young’s team featured all-state forward Stephen Chin, Tyler Rodger, Zach Rolke and guard Chris Duncan. Wilton actually beat Colebrook in the season-opener, handing Buddy Trask’s team what would be their only loss of the season.
Colebrook rolled into the championship game and took control of the game. I remember there being a ton of fouls called and the outcome being decided early.
This was Buddy’s third championship, putting him in rarified air among coaches in New Hampshire.
The 2008 Division III final between Conant and Newmarket made our Top 10
2008 Division II final: Monadnock 42, Hanover 35
Comments: My first-ever championship game at UNH. The Huskies were an interesting team to say the least……
Four of their five starters were home-schooled and mid-way through the season they had been destroyed at John Stark to the point their head coach Ken Irvin (terrific guy who had been a standout at Franklin Pierce when I was at Keene State) benched his starters for most of the second half.
Monadnock knocked off Jim Mulvey and Portsmouth in the quarterfinals before exacting revenge on John Stark in a really good semifinal. This was also back when the quarterfinals were played all day Saturday and Sunday (Division I and II) at UNH.
John Pelkey was just tremendous, he single handily beat a 17-2 Portsmouth team down the stretch, and was joined by a big frontcourt of 6’5 center Nicco Demasco and 6’7 forward Will Nikiforakis.
Hanover was going for back to back titles and was led by player of the year Casey Maue.
2008 Division I final: Salem 66, Trinity 45
Comments: This was the second of back to back titles for EJ Perry’s Blue Devils and they were led by the all-state duo of Josh Jones and Mike Kimball.
I had covered the regular season match-up in Manchester (a close game won by Salem) and looking back it’s amazing that I just assumed coaches were as animated on the sidelines as Dave Keefe & Perry. This was like seeing Al Pacino in a play and thinking everyone carried on like that.
EJ was so wired up he had a bloody lip after the game and couldn’t remember why. Meanwhile, Keefe was calling for illegal screens 20 seconds into the game and at one point was 8 feet out on to the court.
I absolutely loved it.
The championship was over early, all-state point guard Ryan Bourgeois was terrific for the Pioneers but he didn’t have a lot of help that day. Jones and Kimball were terrific and they had a loaded starting five to go along with their terrific coach.
2009 Division IV final: Moultonborough 57, Newmarket 45
Comments: Newmarket came down to Division IV after losing the Division III championship the previous March and returned all-state guard Curtis Williams. They predictably rolled through most of the regular season but ran into a wagon in the championship.
This was a loaded Moultonborough team led by Kevin Eisenberg (an original member of the all-interview team) and Drew Forsberg. That all-state duo was joined by Pete Lyons, Patrick Cotter, Eric Moriarty, Brendan Greenwald and Marcus Swedberg.
Matt Swedberg’s team blew out Colebrook in the semifinals and earned the title behind a balanced starting five.
Moultonborough beat Division II Kingswood in the Lakes Region Holiday tournament so they were a wagon from Day 1. Williams was terrific for Newmarket, who had beaten Jordan Wheelock and Groveton in overtime in the semifinals, but the Panthers took control early and won the title.
The 2009 Division III championship game won by Conant over Prospect Mountain is one of the three title games I’ve missed in 12 seasons.
The 2009 Division II final between Portsmouth and Pelham was featured in our Top 10.
2009 Division I final: Trinity 50, Manchester Memorial 25
Comments: This was sort of a strange game as Manchester Memorial, coached by Mike Fitzpatrick, had won a terrific semifinal over two-time defending champion Salem. I’ll always remember that game as Fitzpatrick and EJ Perry calling out each others sets as all-state forward Jason Chevrefils was outstanding for the Crusaders.
The final pitted cousins Dave Keefe and Fitzpatrick against each other, with Trinity being led by co-player of the year Jordan Laguerre.
One thing I’ll always remember about this game; before the game, both teams got together to take a big picture at half court at UNH. I hadn’t seen anything like since the 1992 Dream Team was doing that with players who wanted their picture taken with Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird.
For whatever reason it just seemed to take the air out of the sails of Memorial. They looked nothing like the team who battled Salem for 32 minutes and ground out a terrific semifinal win.
Laguerre was absolutely dominant and I don’t ever remember this one being close.
The Division IV final between Groveton and Littleton was featured in our Top 10
2010 Division III final: Conant 41, Berlin 35
Comments: Being the first statewide website there was a ton of interest in Conant from Division I coaches. They would routinely ask me ‘ Seriously, how good are they really?”
This was a particularly good Orioles team coached by Eric Saucier. Sean Martin was one of the five best players in the state and Jimmy Peard & Kemph Kim were all-state performers as well.
This was a highly anticipated match-up, Berlin blew out underdog White Mountains in the semifinals and was led by sophomore Curtis Arsenault, who would win a title in 2012 as a senior. The game was close but it never felt like Conant was going to lose and it was a very low scoring affair.
Going back to those first few years of the website, I can’t overstate how confused a lot of people were by what I was doing. The NHIAA sign-in sheet for the tournament games listed TV, Radio, and Newspaper and I would annually fill in 'the internet'. Patrick Corbin the old NHIAA president spoke to me once and it was clear to me he had no clue what I was doing or why I was doing it.
Parents at games would see me writing down notes (I’d write detailed articles on every game I covered along with the Thursday Thoughts, Power Rankings, and Previews) and ask me what newspaper I worked for. When I would respond that I had a high school sports website and didn’t work for a newspaper they would look at me like I lived in my mom’s basement and was doing this for my own amusement. Like I was ranking my favorite acts on ‘America’s Got Talent’.
As crazy as it sounds today, people back then could not fathom something like a website covering high school sports built by just a couple of people who loved high school sports and not by a big corporation.
2010 Division II final: Milford 52, Pembroke Academy 46
Comments: This was the first of back to back titles for Dan Murray’s Spartans and they go down as one of the best Division II teams I covered.
Mike O’Loughlin, Jamison Holder and Mike Mitchell were their big 3 and they beat a Pembroke team coached by Matt Alosa.
More on Milford's 2010 run in their 2011 summary.
The 2010 Division I final between Pinkerton and Winnacunet was featured in our Top 10
2011 Division IV final: Lisbon 40, Derryfield 33
Comments: This was Les Poore’s last game as head coach and the game was played at Southern New Hampshire University because the fields had flooded at Plymouth State.
Jake Clement was the Panthers' best player and he drilled six huge free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Chad Knighton and Mike Heath both played really well as sophomores. Dylan Chase came up big in the final and Chad’s older brother Andrew was a key player for Lisbon as well.
I remember it not being a big crowd at all because A) the game was moved out of Plymouth State and was a much longer drive for North Country fans and B) Derryfield, because they are a private school, never brings in big crowds.
Future America’s Team coach and NHsportspage color commentator Sam Natti was an assistant coach but I had no idea who he was or that he could consistently hit a golf ball 300 yards.
2011 Division III final: Somersworth 45, Bow 39
Comments: Lorne Lucas’s team was terrific and fittingly, had to go through 5-time defending champion Conant to win it. The Hilltoppers came back in the second half to beat Conant in a terrific quarterfinal game I covered.
Bobby Shatinsky, Matt Fauci, Packy Lavin, Brody Horning and Dillon Lanctot led the way for Somersworth as they beat Berlin in the semifinals on a buzzer-beater by Lanctot and the held off a very good Bow team at SNHU to win the title.
That was a very good Somersworth team and a terrific coaching job by Lorne Lucas.
2011 Division II final: Milford 48, Portsmouth 42
Comments: Dan Murray’s team goes back to back. If I’m being honest my biggest memory from this game was Jim Mulvey and Murray yelling at each other up the sidelines at UNH after Milford started stalling up 6 in the fourth quarter.
The classic between these two during this run was the semifinal game in 2010, which was more memorable than either of Milford’s championship game wins. The defending champion Clippers took the Spartans to the wire behind Mike Barton and Mike Montville but what made it legendary was a fire drill.
A fire alarm went off in the middle of a very intense game (I think it was the 3rd quarter but I may be wrong) and so they had to evacuate the entire gym.
In the middle of the game…
The fire department showed up as we all stood outside the Lundholm Gymnasium double doors. The Milford kids were literally standing next to me, freezing in their uniforms drenched in sweat.
Jim Mulvey sat alone on his bench looking over his game notes as the fire department confirmed what we already knew, there never was a fire.
I wish I had taken a picture of that.
2011 Division I final: Bishop Guertin 54, Trinity 46
Comments: That was a really, really good Bishop Guertin team coached by Jim Migneault. Sean McClung and Connor Green were terrific and they were nine players deep. They were one of the best Division I teams I’ve ever covered.
BG won a really tough semifinal game against a Doc Wheeler coached Manchester Central team led by John Wickey and Will Bayliss before beating Trinity in the final.
One thing I remember about this one was the BG parents. They were a really fun group and they were very upset that the BG kids had a scavenger hunt the day of the semifinal game in Boston.
“They’re going to be exhausted and have no legs!” I can remember one of the dads telling me.
Which begs the question of how much physical exertion does it take to do a Scavenger hunt?