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The Great Bay Community College Thursday Thoughts for 2/11/2021

By Dave Haley, 02/11/21, 6:15AM EST


We remember our friend Dan Murray

 We are back with the Thursday Thoughts, where we take a look at all four divisions and rank the Top 10 teams in each.

 Instead of previewing the biggest games from all four divisions, we will give you our weekly power rankings and a check on where we are in each Division.

 Today we will also give you our Player and Coaches of the year, to this point of the season, in all four divisions.

 We will be out covering four games tonight and tomorrow:

 Austin Grass & I will be at Kearsarge tonight when the Cougars take on Lebanon in a terrific Division III vs. Division II battle.

 Lance Legere & Jennifer Chick-Ruth will be in Bow tonight when the Falcons take on Pembroke Academy in girls’ basketball.

 Tomorrow night Pete Tarrier & Ian Melewski will be in New Ipswich when Mascenic Regional takes on arch-rival Conant.

 Lance & Jen will be back at it again Friday night when the Alvirne girls take on Windham.

 Our column today is brought to you by our longtime partners at Great Bay Community College. Click on any of the GBCC banner ads to find out more information about virtual open houses, course information and registration!

 Before we get to today’s column, I wanted to take a moment to remember Dan Murray, the longtime boys’ basketball coach at Milford who passed away unexpectedly on Sunday morning.

 I’ve texted with dozens of coaches and the same things seem to be repeated over and over by different people when talking about him.

 Dan was smart, funny, kind, and a terrific basketball coach. He was in it for the kids, from the youth level in Milford to his boys on the varsity.

 He always had a smile on his face, but Dan also showed he could give it as good as he got it.

 I can still remember him yelling down the sidelines back & forth with Jim Mulvey of Portsmouth during the 2011 championship game at UNH in a game Milford would go on to win 48-42.

 Those back to back championship teams, undoubtedly Dan’s best team he ever coached, were led by the all-state trio of Mike O’Loughlin, Mike Mitchell, and Jamison Holder.

 That team won the title in 2010 & 2011 and was as good as any Division II team I’ve covered in my 13 years.

 When you lose someone unexpectedly, you tend to go back to a moment you had with them. A moment you appreciate for just having been able to spend quality time with them one on one.

 For me, it was at a game we covered at Lebanon in 2017. I can’t remember if the JV game was running late or I had just gotten there early, but there was enough time before the varsity teams headed to the locker room to sit down in the stands with Dan and talk.

 We probably spent close to a half-an-hour talking about his team, teams around Division II, the players he liked, the coaches he liked and maybe even some coaches he didn’t like as much.

 It was a free-flowing conversation between the two of us for what was probably 20 minutes but felt like only a few.

 That was Dan Murray to me. It was fun to talk to him, and he always made you laugh. You learned about the game of basketball too.

 Dan was one of the good ones. Just a terrific guy and a heck of a coach. Someone who always cared more about teaching the game than promoting himself.

 My deepest condolences go out to his family and the entire Milford community. We will miss you, coach.

Milford vs. Lebanon from 2017


 Division I

 Division I Standings and Top 20 Scoring Leaders

 Gold Level Coaches: Lorne Lucas of Spaulding (NEW), John Mulvey of Portsmouth, Rob McLaughlin of Salem, Nate Stanton of Londonderry, John Fisher of BG, Marty Edwards of Alvirne, Ryan Cowette of Goffstown, Frank Moreno of Bedford, Jeff Baumann of Timberlane, Dave Chase of Pinkerton, Matt Fennessy of Dover, Jeff Holmes of Exeter, Jay McKenna of Winnacunnet, Danny Bryson of Manchester Memorial, Keith Bike of Trinity and Jim Thorpe of Concord.

Player of the Year to this point: Joey DaSilva of Windham

Coach of the Year this point: Jeff Holmes of Exeter


Power Rankings

  1. Exeter- The Blue Hawks continue to roll along with a pair of wins over Spaulding last week and a Monday night win over Bishop Guertin. Tom Delgado continues to be one of the breakout stars in the state this season.
  2. Goffstown- A pair of good wins over Bedford moves them to 7-1 and keeps them at #2. You want a peak into the future? Aiden O’Connell (17.6) & Mason Blondeau (14 ppg.) are sophomores while all-state guard Rob Baguidy is a junior. Goffstown, that’s the future.
  3. Winnacunnet- Jay McKenna’s team is starting to round into form and they are laying in the weeds a bit. I’ll have a column next week talking about the playoff format (if they stick to determining seeding in each region by picking out of a hat, thus rendering this entire regular season absolutely meaningless, you’ll probably get a reaction on that from me) and have I mentioned picking out of a hat for seeding is the dumbest idea since that guy in New York who decided to take a selfie in front of an oncoming subway train (spoiler: the train won). Also the Warriors are playing well.
  4. Portsmouth- I went back & forth on this one…I’m landing the Clippers at #4 as they get back on the court this week against Spaulding.
  5. Windham- EJ Perry’s team split with BG last week and keep in mind they have played their last three games without Rocky Heres, who they hope will be back next week.
  6. Nashua North- The Titans jump up two spots after three wins last week over Londonderry (twice) and Nashua South. This is another reminder of how good a coach Steve Lane is. Both Curtis Harris-Lopez and Sam McElliott (18.7 ppg) have been terrific.
  7. Alvirne- An official I like and respect came away very impressed with Marty Edwards’ team. Liam O’Neil & Brendan Graham have been very good down low for the Broncos. When North sped them up, they lost. When Alvirne slowed North down, they won. If Alvirne can control pace they have a chance to beat anyone.
  8. Bishop Guertin- As Bill Parcells famously preached; ‘You are what your record says you are.’ BG is 7-4 and through 11 games they have not found their rhythm.
  9. Trinity- Keith Bike’s team takes on a banged up Manchester Memorial team this week. To this point of the season they are one of the most improved teams in the state. Bike has done a terrific coaching job.
  10.  Pinkerton- How do I move Portsmouth up two spots and the Astros down three when neither played last week? I wish I had a better answer than what my 13-years worth of instincts are telling me. The Astros likely climb back up when they start playing again.


 Biggest games of the weekend:  Windham at Alvirne and Pinkerton at Londonderry

 Where we are at today: Danny Bryson’s Manchester Memorial Crusaders are down three starters since we covered them in their win over Manchester Central, they hope to have guard Cam Pollock back soon.


 Division II

 Division II Standings and Top 20 Scoring Leaders

 Gold Level Coaches: Kieth Matte of Lebanon, Leo Gershgorin of Con Val, David Smith of Coe-Brown, Lewis Atkins of Oyster River, Mike Larson of Pelham, Cole Etten of Hollis-Brookline, John Langlois of Manchester West, Steve McDonough of Laconia, Mike Sullivan of Plymouth and Peter Pierce of Souhegan.

 Player of the Year to this point: Matt Lamy of Bow

 Coach of the Year to this point: Rich Otis of Pembroke Academy


 Power Rankings

  1. Pelham- It was a statement making week for the Fighting Jake’s as they went 3-0 against Hollis-Brookline and Con Val. None of those games were very close and right now pre-season #1 very much looks like the favorite.
  2. Lebanon- We get our first look at Kieth Matte’s team tonight at Kearsarge. They earned a good 52-41 win over Keene last week.
  3. Bow- I came away impressed with the Falcons last week at Coe-Brown. They have the size to beat just about anyone on the boards, Matt Lamy is as good as any player in the division, Shaun Lover gives them a very good spot up shooter on the wing and Tim Lee changes up the defense seemingly every four possessions. They haven’t been dominant and Lee will start to tighten up his rotation but they have the look of a Final Four team.
  4. Manchester West- Good win over Manchester Memorial last week. I have a feeling if you asked Mike Larson of Pelham who is the best team they’ve faced this season, he’d say John Langlois’ team.
  5. Pembroke Academy- Big jump for the Spartans. They clawed their way back from a big early deficit to lose to Bow 56-53. Mike Pitman is a no-brainer first team all-state selection.
  6. Hollis-Brookline- Their defense isn’t up the level we are used to with the Cavaliers but Cole Etten’s teams, without fail, always get better as the season goes along.
  7. Hanover- Tim Winslow is a very good coach and this new group, they lost all 5 starters from last season, is improving. That was a good win over Kearsarge last week.
  8.  Sanborn- They have played everyone tough including Pelham & Manchester West. We need to get out and see these guys.
  9.  Oyster River- They earned a pair of wins over St. Thomas last week and let one get away against Spaulding. Wolfe Ramsey has averaged double digits in his last four games while Hayden Marshall & Doug MacGown have been very good as well.
  10.   Con Val- The Cougars will not have Isaiah Michaels for the rest of the season and do not look right.


 Biggest games of the weekend:  Pelham at Con Val, Bow at Pembroke and Lebanon at Kearsarge.

 Where we are at today: Got a chance to cover Kingswood on Monday night at Gilford. Brogan Shannon is legit, and should be playing at the college level someday. They are not very big but Ethan Arnold is a good athlete and new head coach Joe Faragher is doing a nice job, they just got back on the floor a few weeks ago…….staying in the Lakes Region (sponsored by Kevin Shaw at Roche Realty!) Laconia has been playing well as Steve McDonough’s team is getting balanced scoring from Demarco McKissic, Kayden Roberts and Keaton Beck. We’ll see the Sachems on Thursday night. Rivalry game alert.


Division III

Division III Standings and Top 20 Scoring Leaders

Gold Level Coaches: Mike Rathgeber of Inter-Lakes, Jim Cilley of Belmont, Jaryd Piecuch of Raymond, Jim Hill of Monadnock, Rick Acquilano of Gilford, Eric Saucier of Conant, Nate Camp of Kearsarge, Mike Curtis of White Mountains, Sean Murphy of St. Thomas, Justin Dibenedetto of Campbell and Kiernan Gordon of Prospect Mountain

Player of the Year to this point: Brendan Elrick of Hopkinton

Coach of the Year to this point: Mike Curtis of White Mountains


Power Rankings

  1. Gilford- The Golden Eagles remained undefeated with a big win over Kingswood (Gilford was up 25 in the fourth quarter). Jalen Reese has made the leap (he’s still only a sophomore), Riley Marsh looked terrific even with a left hand mostly made of metal. This team, led by seniors like Curtis Nelson, Alex Cheek & Malik Reese, defends at a very high level and attacks you in transition at every opportunity.
  2. Kearsarge- A pair of losses to Hanover and Lebanon are nothing to be ashamed of but drop Nate Camp’s team from the top spot. Looking forward to seeing them battle Lebanon tonight, easily one of my favorite gyms to cover a game in.
  3. Winnisquam- Belmont needed that second game a lot more than Winnisquam did. Anthony Robbins & Hurricane Caleb Bushway were both out for the Bears. Kevin Dame’s team is going to be a very tough out, Jacob Seavey is playing very well for the Bears, and they’ll be favored in every regular season game they have remaining.
  4. Monadnock- Jim Hill’s team was shut down again and just cannot get any sort of rhythm going. I still believe in Jake Kidney & this group but they need about 6 games to get to where they need to be in March.
  5. Hopkinton- Good road win at Coe-Brown last week. Steve Signor’s team is coming together and Brendan Elrick has gone from, ‘That kid could be good someday’ to ‘ That kid is really good now,’ in a short period of time.
  6. Belmont- They needed that one last Friday night (whoever found Austin’s SD card please enjoy our first three quarters of coverage) so give Jim Cilley’s team credit. The all-state backcourt of Jackson Ruelke & Nate Sottak took over the game late and willed the Red Raiders to a big win over Winnisquam.
  7. Conant- This edition of the Orioles struggles to score (they just couldn’t keep up with Keene) but they defend at a high level and, according to their head coach, are a very hard working and coachable group. That’s good enough for me.
  8. Mascoma- Back to back wins over Stevens last week and Ben Seiler is looking for back to back Division III scoring crowns.
  9. Raymond- See Monadnock….minus the Jake Kidney part. He was not traded to Raymond for one of the Krafton brothers and an 8th grader to be named later.
  10.  White Mountains- Avery Hazelton going from where he was as a player one year ago to the no-doubt first or second team all-state player he is today is like the kid who plays Lily on ‘Modern Family’ emerging as the best actress on the show in Season 12.


 Biggest games of the weekend:  Gilford at Kingswood, Lebanon at Kearsarge and Conant at Mascenic Regional

 Where we are at today:  What we have found out in recent weeks is this is a very top-heavy division. The teams at the bottom of Division III are struggling to compete against the better teams. That’s where all the lopsided scores are coming from.


 Division IV

 Division IV Standings and Top 20 Scoring Leaders

 Gold Level Coaches: Mark Collins of Groveton, Buddy Trask of Colebrook, Trevor Howard of Littleton, Jamie Hayes of Newmarket, Jay Darrah of Pittsfield, Nick Fiset of Epping, Jamie Walker of Woodsville, David Bedard of Franklin, Matthew McMenaman of Mount Royal, Dave Morrissette of Gorham, Carl Anderson of Hinsdale, Tim Putchler of Sunapee and Adam Thurston of Farmington.

Player of the Year to this point: Parker Paradice of Littleton

Coach of the Year to this point: Jay Darrah of Pittsfield


 Power Rankings

  1. Newmarket- Another shutdown for the Mules. This is the latest we have ever gone without covering Littleton and Newmarket but in our defense….we tried twice and couldn’t either time. We’ll keep at it.

1a. Littleton- The Crusaders got back on the court again Tuesday night as Josh Finkle scored 24 points in a win over Lisbon. Big one with Groveton Friday night on the road.

3. Woodsville- They went toe to toe with White Mountains twice and those losses told me more about the Engineers than any of the wins. Would love to see them play Groveton or Littleton soon. Still clearly the second best team in the North Country, although someone is rising

      4. Sunapee- The Lakers continue to roll along. I’m hoping we can cover one of the two upcoming Mascoma games.

      5. Portsmouth Christian- They erased an 18-point deficit to hand      Holy Family their first loss on Tuesday night 52-50 behind 17 points from Seth Huggard. All five of PCA’s starters have scored 14 points or more in a game this season. I know these things because I enter all their stats..

    6. Groveton- that Groveton's music?? (click)  

    7. Holy Family- They’ll learn from the loss to PCA. While Karl Yonkeau was held in check with 9 points, brother Yann scored 21 in the loss.

    8. Epping- The Blue Devils have quietly won four out of five. Owen Finkelstein, Mike Picard, Kevin O’Connell & Jacob Loving have all been contributing for Nick Fiset’s team.

    9. Colebrook- The Mohawks are playing well, Carson Rancourt went for 30 points in a win last week over Berlin and the Dowse brothers are averaging 22 points a game.

   10. Concord Christian- To quote a Division I coach/friend of mine, ‘Wait, Concord Christian is good? And where is Holy Family?’ See this is why it’s fun being a statewide website…and yes., Concord Christian is good. Remember the name Isaac Jarvis (17 ppg).


 Biggest games of the weekend: Littleton at Groveton

 Where we are at today: Hinsdale has the toughest strength of schedule in Division IV and no one else is close.......Matt St. Cyr has become more assertive off the dribble, and Groveton is playing much better.......Ed Meade of Derryfield likes to push the tempo, if they play that way for 32-minutes against Sanborn this week Dylan Khalil might go for 50 points.

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