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The Links at Outlook Final Thursday Thoughts for 3/18/2021

By Dave Haley, 03/18/21, 6:15AM EDT


Nate Kane of Division I Champion Bishop Guertin (photo by Matt Parker)

  Our year end column is brought to you by our great friends at The Links at Outlook in Berwick, Maine, home of the Haley Celebrity Ryder Cup Golf Tournament every August.

 If you are planning a golf outing or a wedding click on their website for more information!

 Links at Outlook Golf Course


  Observations on a season that almost wasn’t……

 The year-end column is always one of my favorite to write because of how easy it comes to me.

 Three weeks before it’s written I have no idea what I’m going to write but two to three weeks of non-stop tournament coverage usually reveals the topic and 2021 was no different.  

 As the days & games went along the same theme kept presenting itself both on Twitter, as updates from other games came in, and on the court right in front of me.

 Teams were struggling to score.

 I mean teams were really struggling to score.        

 It was all capped off by three championship games played in the forties, with all three winning teams (Bishop Guertin with 42 points, Gilford 41 and Lebanon 40) barely reaching 40.

 Woodsville, your Division IV champions after a 52-30 victory over Portsmouth Christian, were the highest scoring offense of championship Saturday..and not only were they were they the highest scoring team, it wasn’t even close. They were by 10 points.

 To put that into historical perspective; the last time the highest scoring team of the four division champions scored fewer than 52 points was in 1962.

 Yes, 1962.

 Your champions and their point total were: Concord (46), St. John (40) and New London (47). There is no record of a Division II champion and I have no clue where St. John was located.

 Saturday’s scores were the lowest combined in 59 years and they were a fair representation of the entire tournament.

 The Gilford-Kearsarge semifinal halftime score was 13-10. The Division II championship game halftime score was Lebanon 17, Pelham 10.

 I can tell you it isn’t a lack of skill or athletic ability. You have more 6’4 kids that can handle the ball and shoot from 22 feet than ever before. I watched Winnacunnet’s James O’Hara cover 20-feet of ground in seemingly less than a second for a goal-tending block at the rim.

 Countless times over the last two weeks I’ve seen shooters against Gilford get the ball on a nice ball rotation ready to shoot, only to have 6’4 Jalen Reese come out of seemingly nowhere to block the shot.

 It’s not a lack of skill and it’s not a lack of good coaching.

 Teams are as well-prepared as ever and the final four featured coaches like Nate Camp, Jay McKenna, Jamie Walker, Rick Acquilano and Mike Larson. All of them terrific coaches and people I’d love to have on my sideline any day of the week.

 The problem is the style of play. The low scoring isn’t a fluke, it’s a direct consequence of the style of play and I’m here to tell you, it isn’t going away unless there is a drastic change.

 Teams all across the state in all four divisions have adopted the NBA and college basketballs logic, based on analytics, that the only shots you should be taking are high percentage shots at the rim or 3-pointers.

 The logic is sound, ‘Why shoot from 15-feet for two points when you can move back 7-feet and make a shot worth 50% more?’

 For the NBA and Division I college basketball it’s the right approach, even if it often isn’t fun to watch. These are 6’8 exceptionally trained athletes who wake up every morning with one job; to shoot the ball efficiently from 3-point range.

 Have you ever gone to an NBA game early and watched them go through their shooting routines?

 Here is what you’ll see…….they don’t miss.

 I’m not talking about guys like Steph Curry and Trae Young, I mean guys like Semi Odjeye and Grant Williams don’t miss.

 In the 90’s the Celtics had a bruising 6’10 big man named Joe Kleine who never seemed to take a shot from outside of 10-feet.

 My Dad and I went an hour early to an afternoon game against the Phoenix Suns and I watched Joe Kleine go about 23 for 25 shooting from 20 feet…and this was a guy who never left the paint in a game.

 They are all tremendous shooters. Tacko Fall would beat you in a three-point contest.

 You’re talking about the greatest athletes in the world executing a skill they have perfected.

 They have perfected it over thousands upon thousands of 25-foot jumpers in the off-season. Whether it is a professional athlete or a scholarship athlete going to school for free, it’s a skill they are cashing in on.

 Let’s bring it back to our own backyard.

 Kids are growing up emulating the players they see on TV, just like I did when I was their age. So a movement began a few years ago where players stopped shooting mid-range jumpers, and in many cases, stopped practicing it all together.

 What that brought was high school teams shooting either 3-pointers or lay-ups.

 Well let’s now go back to the coaching.

 Smart coaches have adjusted, just as you would expect. They realized kids were going to move the ball around the perimeter looking to shoot the one shot they work on hundreds of times.

 They also knew if they closed out effectively on them, those same players were going all the way to the rim.

 What it has led to is the court seemingly being reduced to two sections; one two feet from the basket and the other 21 feet away.

 In the Division II championship Lebanon took 18 lay-ups, 14 3-pointers and one single shot from anywhere else (it was from the baseline).

 Would you like to understand why we had the lowest scoring games we’ve seen in some time and the lowest scoring finals since John F Kennedy was our President?

 Let’s use the Division I final between Bishop Guertin and Winnacunnet as one example:

 When Winnacunnet had the ball they had shooters like James O’Hara, Brett Marelli. Sam Adreottola and Lucas Schaake on the perimeter. All of them are over 6’2 and extremely athletic.

 They were guarded by Nate Kane, Dylan Santosuosso, John Sullivan and Jordan Robichaud. All very athletic and with a long wing-spans (I’ll venmo Jay Bilas his trademark fee when I’m done).

 BG was not going to allow Winnacunnet open looks so they used all that size and athletic ability to close out high, to be sure the Warriors got no open looks from three-point range.

 Faced with this Winnacunnet did exactly what you would expect; they would ball fake and attack the rim.

 The only problem was, waiting at that rim was 6’5 Lucas Baker and 6’4 Javari Ellison.

 That left Winnacunnet (I could make this example with forty other games..we’re just using one to make the point) with either A) a contested 22-foot jump shot or B) finishing at the rim over and through two athletic shot blockers.

 Now flip that and have O’Hara, Schaake and Elynn Houston, another tremendous athlete, closing out on Nate Kane, Jordan Robichaud and Dylan Santosuosso 22-feet from the basket and when that didn’t work, 6’4 Sam Andreottola, 6’4 Brett Marelli & 6’4 Joe Allen waiting to greet BG at the rim.

 Do you now see why the final score was 42-35?

 Do you also see this isn’t about to change?

 One thing 95% of high school players I’ve seen (and this is Year 13) struggle with is making contested long-range jumpers.

 Players like Keith Brown at Pelham, Brett Hanson at Central and Trevon Maughn at Memorial were really unique in their ability to hit a shot from 22-feet with a hand in their face, but most high school players just aren’t efficient with that kind of pressure.

 What you are seeing the result of is teams and players ignoring the mid-range jumper, the flash to the free throw line or baseline jump shot, for 22-foot jumpers.

 Well that works fine when you’re playing lesser teams, but when you get to the one & done stage good teams are just not going to allow it. The coaches are too good to give you repeated clean looks.

 When teams don’t get the look they want they work the ball around to try and find it. With no shot clock in New Hampshire (it is 1955 here and 2021 in Massachusetts) there is absolutely no consequence to running offense for two minutes.

 This isn’t rocket science.

 That’s where these scores are coming from.

 For those who say ‘ Dave you are advocating for the worst shot in basketball’, like I was told on Twitter on Saturday; no, that’s the worst shot in the NBA where millionaires are practicing 25 footers as you read this.

 It is absolutely not the worst shot in high school basketball and it’s bringing down the product on the court.

 You can talk about great defense and playoff intensity, and that all has its merits, but no one enjoys 17-10 and 13-10 halftime scores. The games are getting harder to watch because the 15 feet of wide open space in the middle of the paint is being largely ignored.

 When Pete Tarrier & I finally caught up after all the games we covered over the past two weeks do you know what game he told me was his favorite to watch/cover?

 Bedford’s win over Bishop Guertin in the Division I girls title game.

 There were mid-range jumpers, floaters in the lane. That all opened up more open looks from three-point range. They also scored more points (64-46) than any of the boys’ games.

 What we have now is players shooting from two spots on the floor and the opposing defense, led by smart coaches and very talented players, knowing exactly where those shots are coming from.

 It’s like playing hide & go seek and saying ‘ I’m going to go hide behind one of those two trees. Good luck finding me!’

 The style of play changed when players started following what they saw on the NBA level and coaches followed suit. Those same coaches have adjusted, and they are planning their defense accordingly.

 If it continues we better get used to 37-34 finals.

 I backed up my argument with numbers but let me just tell you what my eyeballs told me; this was my 13th year of covering the playoffs and I didn’t need a scoreboard to tell me kids were struggling to score.

 The style of play changed and coaches adjusted.

 It’s time to adjust once again.


 Jamie Hayes retires as Newmarket’s head coach

 Longtime Newmarket head coach Jamie Hayes is stepping down as head coach of the Mules after 18 seasons and an amazing 10 Final Four appearances.

 Hayes made the decision to step away so he could watch his daughter play basketball next season and spend more time with his family.

 Hayes will be a strong candidate for the NHIAA Hall of Fame and has been a part of the NHBCO leadership for years.

 On a personal note Jamie was literally one of the first coaches to talk to me in 2008 when I introduced the concept of our website at the annual NHBCO Coaches Clinic. He was excited about more in depth coverage for the teams & players across all four divisions and was a huge help in getting me get in touch with other coaches and getting NHsportspage off the ground.

 He was a terrific coach and has standing invitation to serve as a color analyst with us anytime he wants.


 This and that………………..

  I will be having conference calls with the coaching staff of the senior and underclassman teams (Cole Etten of Hollis-Brookline is the senior team head coach, John Mulvey of Portsmouth is his assistant coach. Nick Fiset of Epping is the underclassman head coach, Jeff Baumann of Timberlane is his assistant coach) to determine the rosters for both teams. The plan now is to play the games in June with each team playing against a team out of Maine and BABC of Boston. A scrimmage is planned as well. Each team will practice three times in preparation for the games and we will have coverage of everything from the practices to the games………….The four schools who hosted the final fours did a terrific job, hats off to Coach Bill Ball & Kristen Morissette at Exeter, Andy Lathrup at Oyster River, Craig Kozens at Laconia and Jim Carey at Plymouth………I didn’t miss staff picks one single bit………As great as the hosts were the college venues were sorely missed, as we get back to normal we need to get back to UNH, SNHU and Plymouth State in 2022…….if Gilford’s Jalen Reese locks himself in a gym this summer and shoots 300 3-pointers a day I’m not sure how you are stopping him next year…or the year after (he’s only a sophomore)……All the kids are great in the post-game Instagram celebrations but I’d put the power rankings as 1) Girls basketball 2) Football teams 3) Boys Basketball 4) Volleyball………..Each of our eight pre-season previews had more views (in some cases substantially more views) than they did in 2020 and we blew past our record for the number of unique visitor to the website, so thank you!………Your scoring champions: Royce Williams of Trinity (22.1 ppg.), Dylan Khalil of Sanborn (22.3), Ben Seiler of Mascoma (22.4) and Owen Finkelstein of Epping (21.5)……….Your early favorites for 2022; Division I: Goffstown, Pinkerton, Londonderry, Manchester Memorial and Windham….Dover & Concord will be much-improved….Division II: Lebanon, Pembroke, Coe-Brown, Hanover and Sanborn. Division III: Gilford, Kearsarge (they are your clear #1 and #2, both will be in our jamboree), Campbell, Conant and White Mountains. Division IV: Woodsville (your clear #1), Concord Christian, Epping and Holy Family……….The John Zavala All-Glue Guy Team (named after the Colebrook legend): Dylan Kumbani of Bedford, Will Reyes of Londonderry, Bob Olson of Timberlane, Chris Corliss of Groveton, Cooper Larrabee of Bow, Paul Goding of Raymond, Alex Cheek of Gilford, Jake Herrling of Pelham, Matt Cardarelli of Bow,  Brian Carroll of Belmont, Nolan Grant of Kearsarge, Stephen Lucas of Littleton and Owen Hayes of Newmarket……….I’m going to put this in the middle of a lot of quick thoughts and leave it at that; the kids were incredible these last two weeks, the coaches were just as great,, listening to some parents scream & yell at officials for 32 straight minutes was absolutely the hardest part of covering all these games,,in one particular game and after four nights of listening to it I almost cracked…it was that bad and Lance will tell you the same on the girls side……….moving on……..Among the events we really missed this year was our Coaches for a Cause Jamboree which we plan to resume next December at Great Bay Community College. With the benefit of hindsight we now know we would have seen Division II champion Lebanon take on Portsmouth, Division II runner-up Pelham take on Goffstown and Division I runner-up Winnacunnet take on Division III semifinal Kearsarge………..Bishop Guertin was the only Division I team to play all 18 games, and they were your champions……….we are looking for a play by play person for girls basketball next year to join Lance Legere, would love to have a former girls basketball player or coach.


 NHsportspage All-State Selections


 Division I

 First Team All-State

 Royce Williams of Trinity

 Joey DaSilva of Windham

 Jacob Gibbons of Exeter

 Curtis Harris-Lopez of Nashua North

 Kevin Cummings of Portsmouth


 Second Team All-State

 Matt McConnell of Exeter

 Aiden O’Connell of Goffstown

 Sam McElliott of Nashua North

 Elynn Houston of Winnacunnet

 Dylan Santosuosso of Bishop Guertin


 Third Team All-State

 James O’Hara of Winnacunnet

 Coleman Brewster of Portsmouth

 Nate Kane of Bishop Guertin

 Liam O’Neil of Alvirne

 Jackson Cox of Londonderry


 Comments: McConnell & O’Connell were tough first team omissions but there are only five spots, Houston was Winnacunnet’s best player down the stretch and in the post-season run, his defense put him over the top. Jackson Cox could easily be second team but he missed a good chunk of their season, so 3rd team felt fair.


 The All-Angry Email Team (players that could have made the three teams above but didn’t, and angry emails may be written to say just that)…..

 Jack Tarleton of Merrimack

 Brett Marelli of Winnacunnet

 Sam Adreottola of Winnacunnet

 John Sullivan of Bishop Guertin

 Justin Dunne of Pinkerton

 Cody Rocheleau of Nashua South

 Rob Baguidy of Goffstown

 Ryan Pacy of Salem

 Jack St. Hilaire of Windham

 Baril Mawo of Manchester Central

 Mark Frost of Spaulding

 Tyler Bike of Trinity

 Tom Delgado of Exeter

 Bob Olson of Timberlane

 TJ O’Connell of Bedford

 Alex Charles of Keene

 JT DeLacey of Bedford

 Brendan Graham of Alvirne

 Mason Blondeau of Goffstown

 Jordan Robichaud of Bishop Guertin

 Chris Heffernan of Exeter


 Player of the Year: Royce Williams of Trinity

The tournament counts when we do our all-state picks and Royce not only led his team to the final four while leading the team in points, rebounds, steals & assists but he almost brought them back in the second half against Winnacunnet.

 Runner-up: Joey DaSilva of Windham


 Coach of the Year: Steve Lane of Nashua North

 In addition to graduation losses the Titans lost two starters who left for Bishop Guertin. Lane did a terrific job in leading his team to a 10-1 regular season record.

Runner-up: Jeff Holmes of Exeter


Division II


First Team All-State

Dylan Khalil of Sanborn

Matt Lamy of Bow

Demarco McKissic of Laconia

Jake Dumont of Pelham

Calvin Bates of Lebanon


Second Team All-State

Jake McGlinchey of Pelham

Jackson Stone of Lebanon

Mike Pitman of Pembroke Academy

Ben Mattioni of Oyster River

Brogan Shannon of Kingswood


Third Team All-State

Zach Jones of Pelham

Griffin Wheeler of Merrimack Valley

Braeden Falzarano of Lebanon

Shaun Lover of Bow

Jared Khalil of Sanborn

Comments: Division II was the toughest of the four to cut off after three teams. There are several players on the all-angry email team that really could be on 3rd team.


The All-Angry Email Team (players that could have made the three teams above but didn’t, and angry emails may be written to say just that)…..

Rashaw Prescott of Manchester West

Rob Haytayan of Hollis-Brookline

Keegan Paradis of Coe-Brown

Karsten Hansen of Lebanon

Ethan Arnold of Kingswood

Max Gailbraith of Hanover

Cole Smith of Coe-Brown

Sheer Akot of Manchester West

Wyatt Davis of Con Val

Kayden Roberts of Laconia

Keaton Beck of Laconia

Matt Dias of Hollis-Brookline

Griffin Charland of Plymouth

Eli Gove of Merrimack Valley


Player of the Year: Dylan Kahlil of Sanborn

The senior guard was a menace on both ends of the floor and an easy pick for player of the  year.

Runner-up: Matt Lamy of Bow


Coach of the Year:  Dan Murray of Milford

 In a very classy gesture the Division II coaches voted unanimously to give their top award to the Milford head coach, who we lost this year. We will do the same.

Rest in peace Coach.


Division III


First Team All-State

Jackson Ruelke of Belmont

Jalen Reese of Gilford

Chris Stanchfield of Kearsarge

Brendan Elrick of Hopkinton

Phil Nichols of Winnisquam


Second Team All-State

Ben Seiler of Mascoma

Josh Krafton of Raymond

Jake Kidney of Monadnock

Avery Hazelton of White Mountains

Colson Seppala of Conant


Third Team All-State

Ben Carl of Kearsarge

Owen Milchik of Hopkinton

Jacob Seavey of Winnisquam

Nate Krafton of Raymond

Nate Sottak of Belmont

Comments: First and second teams were not hard to select, you could have talked me into Sam Carl on second team….of the four divisions there was no bigger gap between the top teams and the bottom teams than Division III.


The All-Angry Email Team (players that could have made the three teams above but didn’t, and angry emails may be written to say just that)…..

George Jallah of Kearsarge

Zach Thompson of Mascoma

Malik Reese of Gilford

Brody LaBounty of White Mountains

Hayden Ketola of Conant

Kevin Putnam of Monadnock

Dylan Rice of Campbell

Anthony Robbins of Winnisquam

Riley Marsh of Gilford

Shea Zina of Mascenic Regional

John Jacobson of Hopkinton

Ethan Berg of St. Thomas

Malaki Ingram of Newfound

Curtis Nelson of Gilford

Zack Coombs of Hillsborough-Deering

Clayton Wadsworth of Stevens

Tyler Hicks of White Mountains

Jamison Gaudette of Belmont


Player of the Year: Jackson Ruelke of Belmont

 The Red Raiders point guard emerged as the clear choice after a terrific senior season. He stepped up in the biggest games of the year; scoring 32 points against Laconia and 33 against Kingswood.

Runner-up: Jalen Reese & Chris Stanchfield


Coach of the Year: Jaryd Piecuch of Raymond

 The Rams haven’t been on the Division III map for over a decade and in two short years they are back in the conversation after a Final Four run that saw them take Hopkinton to overtime.

Runner-up: Mike Curtis of White Mountains


Division IV


First Team All-State           

Parker Paradice of Littleton

Karl Yonkeau of Holy Family

Owen Tower of Newmarket

Elijah Flocke of Woodsville

Owen Finkelstein of Epping


Second Team All-State

Isaac Jarvis of Concord Christian

Josh Finkle of Littleton

Yann Yonkeau of Holy Family

Jah Gordon of Pittsfield

Camden Burt of Woodsville


Third Team All-State

Matt St. Cyr of Groveton

Julian Kenison of Groveton

Jason Stockbower of PCA

Sean Moynihan of Sunapee

Lois Larosiliere of Mount Royal

Comments: It’s pretty difficult to separate the top 3 teams and Carson Rancourt is a tough omission and Finkelstein over Jarvis was thisclose.


The All-Angry Email Team (players that could have made the three teams above but didn’t, and angry emails may be written to say just that)…..

 Carson Rancourt of Colebrook

 Maxx Spinelli of PCA

 Zack Douville of Franklin

 Landon Bromley of Littleton

 Jordan McDonnell of Mount Royal

 Amar Phoubaykham of Newmarket

 Arth Patel of Hinsdale

 Harper Flint of Sunapee

 Jesse MacGlashing of Pittsfield

 Cam Clermont of Lin Wood

 Will Lopus of Lisbon

 Cam Davidson of Woodsville

 Anthony Frisk of Gorham

 Mike Picard of Epping

 Corey Bemis of Woodsville

 Josh Robie of Profile

 Brayden Eastman of Hinsdale


 Player of the Year: Karl Yonkeau of Holy Family & Parker Paradice of Littleton

 The post-season counts and what was Paradice’s honor alone has to be shared with Yonkeau who led Holy Family to the Final Four after playing a JV schedule a year ago.

 Coach of the Year: Jamie Walker of Woodsville

 A well deserved honor for a terrific head coach.


 We are not done. We will be announcing the rosters for our NHsportspage senior and underclassman teams in the next few weeks and will also be covering baseball & softball games around the state!

 Thank you to our partners Core Physicians, Great Bay Community College, White Mountains Community College, Kevin Shaw at Roche Realty, York County Community College, NHTI and Buffalo Wild Wings of Manchester, Concord & Nashua for making our coverage possible!

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