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The White Mountains C.C Thursday Thoughts for 2/18/2021

By Dave Haley, 02/18/21, 6:00AM EST


We'll see Isaiah Reese and the Golden Eagles at Laconia tonight (photo by Steve Pouliot photo)

 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 ask of each division: ‘What have we learned’ and ‘What do we still have no way of knowing yet’.

 Weather permitting we are going to be out at four games tonight and tomorrow:

 ‘The Franchise’ Jennifer Chick-Ruth & I will be in Laconia tonight when the Sachems take on undefeated Gilford in a completely non-biased broadcast.

 Tomorrow Nicole Marrero & I will at Exeter when the undefeated Blue Hawks take on the Portsmouth Clippers

 Pete Tarrier & Austin Grass will be at Pinkerton Academy when the Astros face off with Nashua South

 And finally on Saturday morning Jennifer Chick-Ruth & I will be at Bow when the Falcons take on fellow unbeaten Pelham in a big time Division II boys basketball match-up.

 Our column today is brought to you by our great friends & partners at White Mountains Community College website (click)

 Watch Jen Chick-Ruth’s Golden Globe winning video above or click on their website to learn more!


 Before we get to the Power Rankings:


 Why picking out of a hat for seeding and home-court is a mistake that should not be repeated.

 When an undefeated Newfound field hockey team was forced to go on the road in the first-round of the tournament to play winless Littleton, I thought we had our example.

 When winless Winnacunnet was the top seed in the volleyball regionals over Dover & Spaulding teams with one loss combined, it felt like a point had been made.

 Finally, when Oyster River volleyball beat both Coe-Brown and St. Thomas during the regular season, only to then have to go on the road to St. Thomas in the first-round, and if they won, on the road to Coe-Brown after that, it then felt like overkill.

 Here we are three months later, and we are actually going to do this again.

 While football seeded their teams and ended up having a terrific playoff, the decision is being made to ignore that route and choose the one with the follies listed above.

 In Division I, Exeter earned two gritty gutty wins over arch-rival Winnacunnet. A match-up of two of the Top 5 teams in the state.

 In Division II Pelham beat a very tough Manchester West team 53-51 and 56-53.

 None of those results will matter in the slightest if we continue forward with the decision to randomly seed teams by picking out of a hat.

 How can that possibly be the best solution we can come up with?

 You can be the one to tell Jacob Gibbons, Matt McConnell, Tom Delgado, and five different kids from Pelham named Jake that it all meant nothing.

 It renders the entire regular season utterly meaningless when it comes to earning home court and a better draw.

 I’m interviewing these kids after games. When Bow traveled over to Coe-Brown and remained undefeated, it meant something to that team and those players.

 It meant something when Belmont erased a 12-point deficit to beat Winnisquam and when the Woodsville girls went to Colebrook last weekend and knocked off the defending champs on their home floor.

 Are you telling me the best thing to do is throw out every single result in the regular season and pick out of a hat?

 I find it impossible that is the best option.

 Can someone on the committee tell us why they are going this route?

 I’d like to hear why we are repeating the same mistakes of the fall and ignoring the successful route taken by football. Tell us why you are deciding to turn an entire regular season in eight divisions into scrimmages where no result meant a thing.

  Why can the teams not be ranked in their regions?

  Use 1) won-loss record 2) head-to-head tie-breakers and 3) a coin toss when they have the same record and did not play during the regular season.

  I haven’t spoken to a single coach who wants to see the regular season results thrown out.

 Football scheduled play in games, seeded the schools in their regions and carried out their playoffs. It was the other sports that had winless teams as top seeds and undefeated ones in play-in games.

 Are we going to repeat that same mistake again? After all we have asked of these kids and coaches, a random draw is the best we can offer them?

 That’s not within one million miles of the best thing to do. It’s frankly the easiest thing to do.

 You rank each team by record, and will it be perfect? No, it can’t when some teams play 14 games and some play 4, but you are going to have something very close to a pure draw and a fair playoff.

 On the seacoast, that would currently have the following seeding; 1) Exeter 2) Winnacunnet 3) Dover 4) Portsmouth 5) Spaulding.

 I performed a picking out of hat experiment that resulted in 1) Dover 2) Portsmouth 3) Spaulding 4) Exeter 5) Winnacunnet.    *-see below

 That would put the two best teams on the seacoast in a play-in game.

 Think it can’t happen? Scroll back to the top and tell me it won’t. I’ll wait here.

 It will happen.

 There are ten days before the end of the regular season.

 Are we going to let it happen again?


*- to give another example I had my daughter Allison take the 14 Division III tournament teams from a year ago and pick them out of a hat for seeding.

 She chose: 1) Mascoma 2) Mascenic 3) Hopkinton 4) Monadnock 5) St. Thomas 6) Raymond 7) Winnisquam 8) Inter-Lakes 9) Somersworth 10) Gilford 11) Belmont 12) Campbell 13) White Mountains 14) Conant

 Meaning the two co-champions, Gilford and Mascenic Regional, would have played in the quarterfinals.


 Here are your regions for each Division. (Note: Winners from region 1 play winners from Region 2 in the semifinals, winners from Region 3 play Region 4 winner)


 Division I

 Region 1: Dover, Exeter, Portsmouth, Spaulding & Winnacunnet

 Region 2: Bedford, Concord, Goffstown, Manchester Central, Manchester Memorial & Trinity

 Region 3: Merrimack, Londonderry, Salem, Pinkerton, Windham & Timberlane

 Region 4: Alvirne, Keene, Bishop Guertin, Nashua North & Nashua South

 Most difficult region: Region 1

 Least difficult: Region 2


 Division II

 Region 1: Coe-Brown, Oyster River, Pembroke, Sanborn, & Bishop Brady

 Region 2: Hollis-Brookline, Milford, Pelham, Souhegan & Manchester West

 Region 3: Bow, Con Val, Lebanon, John Stark & Hanover

 Region 4: Kennett, Kingswood, Merrimack Valley, Plymouth & Laconia

 Most difficult region: Region 3

 Least difficult: Region 4


 Division III

 Region 1: White Mountains, Belmont, Gilford, Berlin, Newfound, Inter-Lakes & Winnisquam

 Region 2: Stevens, Kearsarge, Mascoma, Newport & Fall Mountain

 Region 3: Conant, Mascenic Regional, Monadnock, Hopkinton & Hillsboro-Deering

 Region 4: Somersworth, St. Thomas, Campbell, Raymond & Prospect Mountain

 Most difficult region: Regions 1&3

 Least difficult: Region 2


 Division IV

 Region 1: Epping, Farmington, Newmarket, Pittsfield & Portsmouth Christian

 Region 2: Hinsdale, Mount Royal, Sunapee, Holy Family & Derryfield

 Region 3: Lin-Wood, Lisbon, Moultonborough, Woodsville, Franklin & Concord Christian

 Region 4: Colebrook, Littleton, Gorham, Groveton, Pittsburg-Canaan & Profile

 Most difficult region: Region 1

 Least difficult: Region 3


 Division I

 Division I Standings, Gold Level Coaches/Programs & Top 20 Scoring Leaders


 Power Rankings

  1. Exeter- I’m not surprised at all that the Blue Hawks are good; I am surprised at how dominant they’ve been.
  2. Goffstown- They look ready to be there in the end, Aiden O’Connell has been so consistent and Jack Kelly is very underrated.
  3. Winnacunnet-If they hold on to that 9-point lead with three minutes left against Exeter at home (in a game we covered) they are sitting tied at the top of Division I. Jay McKenna has his team playing very well.
  4. Nashua North- Let’s see what kind of challenge a  much-improved Timberlane provides, that season finale against BG is a game we need to get out and cover.
  5. Windham- The Jaguars are a legitimate title contender and Joey DaSilva has been the best player in the state this season. The two games with Pinkerton should be fantastic games.
  6. Bishop GuertinWhen it came down to who to put at 6 I asked myself who I like in a game between Alvirne and BG on a neutral floor. I like BG in a close one.
  7. Alvirne- The Broncos earned a ton of respect when they came back from a shellacking against Windham to beat them three days later. They did the same thing against North earlier in the season (still the Titans only loss of the year). Give Marty Edwards and his team a ton of respect, these kids are resilient.
  8. Pinkerton- Still undefeated and largely unknown, we’ll get in to them more below.
  9. Portsmouth- They land here on reputation alone. They’ve earned that based on what we think of John Mulvey and this program but they haven’t showed it on the floor, yet.
  10.  Trinity- The Pioneers have earned a high seed in their region and I love the job Keith Bike is doing with this group. It’s not as easy as it looks.


What have we learned: Exeter is the best team in the state today. Are they unbeatable? No, they have flaws just like everyone else. I think you can really beat them up on the boards (Pinkerton & Alvirne come to mind) but I also think you’re going to have to stop them when they have the ball and they have looked perfectly in sync so far…it’s very strange seeing programs as good & established as Merrimack and Salem at the bottom of the division but it’s been a combination tough schedules and bad luck for both. Merrimack doesn’t have a senior on the roster and Rob McLaughlin’s Blue Devils struggle on the boards and have dealt with distractions.

What we still have no way of knowing yet?  How the regions rank. Going back to football season Bow went undefeated in their Concord-cluster of games. They are a terrific program and so we assumed they were as good as any team in the playoffs, but after winning their cluster they were beaten on their home-field handily by Lebanon. What we immediately realized was, the Concord teams were down this year, and the undefeated regular season was a bit of a mirage. So will we find that out about any of the regions in Division I?

 Pinkerton is a good example. They pass the eye test and Dave Chase is doing a terrific job, but in the two wins over Londonderry Jackson Cox (20 ppg) didn't play for the Lancers. We need to see how they stack up with Windham next week.

 I believe that by the time we get to the Final Four we’ll see that the teams are fairly equal and the second best team on the seacoast was just as good as any of the other three regional winners.


 Division II

 Division II Standings, Gold Level Coaches and Top 20 Scoring Leaders

 Power Rankings

  1. Pelham- Really looking forward to covering the Fighting Jake’s on Saturday morning (nothing says this has been a weird year like a 10 am tip time). The Franchise Jen Chick-Ruth and I will be there Saturday with coffee.
  2. Lebanon- I was impressed Kieth Matte’s Raiders when I covered them last week. They run really good offense (they take care of the basketball which is an underrated skill) and I liked what I saw from point guard Braedan Falzarano. He controls tempo and gets to the rim where he can finish with either hand. Their weakness is rebounding so Bow could be a bad match-up for them.
  3. Bow-At some point you ask yourself’ Are they winning so many close games (five games by 5 points or fewer) because they aren’t that dominant or do you credit them for being able to close out opponents? My guess is their head coach Tim Lee, who has really impressed me this season, is very happy with their ability to win tight games. These kids have won a lot of games in multiple sports, they know how to close.
  4. Manchester West-I’ve been right about Manchester West all along, John Langlois is a really, really good coach too.
  5. Pembroke Academy- This team has been very consistent, their three losses (to Bow twice and a good Hopkinton team once) have been by a total of twelve points.
  6. Hanover- The next four games (against Keene and Lebanon) will tell you whether Tim Winslow’s team is a true contender.
  7. Sanborn- They close with two games against Pelham. Bob Ficker’s team will know where they stand after those.
  8. Hollis-Brookline- Time is running out to get to where they are accustomed to being heading into the tournament.
  9. Oyster River- The games against Spaulding & Dover are going to help them. The Big Smooth Lewis Atkins is doing a nice job with a largely inexperienced team.
  10.  Con Val- I still believe in Leo Gershgorin and the Cougars. This team just needs more time in the gym together and that has been hard to come by.


What have we learned: This isn’t a very deep division, I can only see four teams winning it right now, I just don’t think Pembroke or Hanover has the experience to make that kind of run.

 Pelham and Manchester West are set to be in the same region. If they choose to ignore everything above you and simply pick out of a hat like an octopus picking the Super Bowl winner you may see the Fighting Jake’s have to go on the road to Manchester West. That would be both difficult and really unfair. They’ve earned home-court.

What we still have no way of knowing yet? Just how big that gap is. Bow and Lebanon are on a crash course in their region with Hanover lurking as your sleeper. How does the winner of Region 4 compare to the other regional winners?


 Division III

 Division III Standings, Gold Level coaches and Top 20 Scoring Leaders

 Power Rankings

  1. Gilford- A pair of double digit wins over a good Kingswood team keeps them at the top spot. They face a very tough challenge against a good Laconia team on the road.
  2. Kearsarge- I came away impressed with Nate Camp’s team. Chris Stanchfield is as good as advertised and Sam Carl does a terrific job running the offense. They have the depth to be the last team standing.
  3. Winnisquam- I like this group a lot, they have played multiple sports together and they have won about 80% of those games. Anthony Robbins is also one of the best guards in the division you don’t know about yet.
  4. Monadnock- The plan is for Pete Tarrier & Jen Chick-Ruth to be out in Swanzey on Tuesday night when they take on Conant. Told you we were coming…
  5. Hopkinton- When opposing coaches tell me how tough Brendan Elrick is when they text their stats after games…you listen.
  6. Belmont- Jim Cilley was trying to pick up a pair of games with Kingswood next week. That would help the Red Raiders who will be in the toughest region in the post-season.
  7. Conant- Still lurking in the Top 7.
  8. Mascoma- It’s hard to get a read on them when they are beating up on Stevens & Fall Mountain.
  9. White Mountains- Their match-up with Littleton is a showdown of the best two teams in the North Country.
  10. St. Thomas- A pair of wins over Raymond vaults Sean Murphy’s Saints into the Top 10. This might be your favorite in Region 4.


What have we learned: Kearsarge and Gilford could beat you by 10 points without even attempting a 3-pointer….. Four of the top nine teams will all be in the same region…Monadnock is going to have to be very mentally tough because they just won’t be given enough time to get to where they hoped to be heading into March. The bottom teams in this division are 40 points away from teams in the Top 10 and that’s not normally the case. By the way if Kearsarge was in Division II they would be a Top 7 team.

What we still have no way of knowing yet? It is February 18th and no one has any idea how good Mascenic Regional is….we also don’t know how Monadnock & Conant would match up with the teams in the Top 3. The Player of the Year race seems to be between: Brendan Elrick (Hopkinton), Jalen Reese (Gilford), Chris Stanchfield (Kearsarge) Jackson Ruelke (Belmont) and Ben Seiler (Mascoma).


Division IV

Division IV Standings, Gold Level Coaches & Top 20 Scoring Leaders

Power Rankings

  1. Newmarket- The Mules have played only four games and been shutdown twice.

1a. Littleton- The Crusaders played man to man defense against Groveton and held the Eagles to 21 points, highlighted by Landon Bromley holding Julian Kenison to two points.

      3. Woodsville- I’m curious to see the score of their game tomorrow night at Colebrook (weather permitting)

      4. Sunapee- Still waiting to get Nick Pollari back from injury. We want to get out and cover their games against Mascoma but I currently have a videographer and play by play person on lockdown at Franklin Pierce…what a year.

     5. Holy Family-Finally saw them on film. Teams are going to throw three (or possibly four) defenders at Karl & Yann Yonkeau (they are both very good) and make the other three players on the floor beat them.

     6. Portsmouth Christian- PCA beat Somersworth 77-44 and then lost to St. Thomas 73-46…..these Top 10’s are not as easy as you think.

     7. Groveton- Here is the problem: Trevor Howard has two very good defenders in Parker Paradice & Landon Bromley. Those two happen to match-up perfectly with Matt St. Cyr & Julian Kenison. There hasn’t been a third scorer to emerge so when you shut those two down you shut the entire team down.. That is a problem even arguably the best coach in the state can’t fix.

    8. Colebrook- I think Colebrook beats Epping right now on a neutral floor…send all angry emails to Lance.

   9.  Epping- Region 1 is the toughest of the four but I still think we are ending up with Newmarket, Littleton, Sunapee and Woodsville.

  10.  Concord Christian- The loss to Mount Royal was a bit of a head-scratcher. They have good tests with Pittsfield and Franklin remaining.

What have we learned:  I don’t think it’s fair to Jamie Hayes and Newmarket to assume they will be playing well in the post-season. They have, including summer league, fall ball and scrimmages, played four games in the last eleven months.

 Holy Family is the problem people thought they would be. They did well in JV tournaments last year and now that they are here, and they feature two of the top five players in the division. They are going to be a tough out.

What we still have no way of knowing yet? What the gap is, if any, between Woodsville and Littleton and Newmarket and Sunapee. I can tell you there are going to be 25 point games in the semifinals in other divisions.

 Do I think that applies here? No, Sunapee has been able to play a lot of games while it is well illustrated the tough time Newmarket has had getting on the floor together.

 Woodsville/Littleton is a similair story, Jamie Walker’s team has not only played a lot of games but they have played good teams like White Mountains and Kennett…no offense but beating Gorham & Profile are not going to tell you where your team is at.

 The Crusaders and the Mules are the two best teams, but they cannot have another interruption. Also, I’ll be at Littleton with Austin Grass on Tuesday for their game with Colebrook.

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