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The Buffalo Wild Wings Division I Boys Basketball Semifinal Scouting Report

By Dave Haley, 03/08/23, 6:15AM EST


Aiden O'Connell and the Bulldogs square off with Nashua South (photo by Cindy Lavigne)

 Every season going back to 2008, we turn our semifinal previews over to the people who know these teams better than anyone; the coaches who faced them during the season.

 We asked three Division I head coaches to break down the four teams and the two match-ups using blind quotes.

 Our semifinal scouting report is brought to you by our partners at Buffalo Wild Wings in Manchester, Concord, and Nashua.

 Buffalo Wild Wings will be awarding a $25 gift card to the player of the game in each game, including Sunday’s final!


 Division I

 (1) Bedford vs. (4) Nashua South

 Bedford Team Page

 Nashua South Team Page

 Box score from the first meeting

 The Bedford Bulldogs fought back from an eighteen-point deficit to beat defending champion Trinity on Sunday afternoon, while the Nashua South Panthers defeated rival Bishop Guertin 48-45.

 We asked the coaches to break down both teams, beginning with Frank Moreno's Bulldogs.

 "Oh man, when you talk about Bedford, you are talking about relentless pressure. They get so much out of their press; they get turnovers and easy baskets, wear your players down and speed you up.”

 Another coach acknowledged the press but talked about an underrated feature for Bedford.

 "The pressure gets a lot of the attention, but the way they attack the glass is what beats most teams. They send four guys to the glass, and even at 6'2, Aiden O'Connell might be the best rebounder in our division."

 "They want to play a game in the eighties, knowing full well that most teams can't go there with them. They'll go 2-2-1 three-quarter court pressure, picking up right around the free throw line."

 "What Nashua South has to anticipate is that they will trap you anywhere. They will blitz the ball, try to cover the first pass, and pick off the long throw. Once they get the ball, it's off to the races."

 “ I would imagine Frank trying to get Castonguay to give up the ball around mid-court. To throw their rhythm off.”

 We asked the coaches about Bedford's personnel.

 "Aiden is so strong and athletic. He is also the smartest player on the floor. He will bang down low to get his spot, and he finishes through traffic with excellent footwork."

 "Luke Soden is the best scorer I have seen in some time. He had a quiet 42 points against Trinity. How is that possible? When he gets a clean look from three, I'm stunned when he misses."

 "They have five guys on the floor who can score at all times. Sean Toscano can knock down shots, as can Niko Badoin and Caden Brown."

 "Not having Brady O'Connell hurts them. He played against Trinity but looked limited; I'm sure he is fighting through that leg injury. It hasn't cost them yet, but he was a big part of their success and allowed Soden to play on the wing."

 "South has the backcourt to handle their pressure and the big guy in the middle to contest O'Connell and Austin Kasyjanski.”

“ When I watch Bedford on tape, I see them getting ten-plus possessions on their opponents through turnovers and offensive rebounds. Frank has let them play that style, and it's very smart. He has the best athletes on the floor; let them loose."

 What about Nate Mazerolle's Nashua South Panthers?

 "Nate has played to their strengths. He lets the backcourt (Zac Castonguay and Josh Caruso) control the tempo and has them playing 2-3 zone with Dennis Wainaina in the middle."

 "Castonguay and Caruso are both terrific players, but they are very different also. Castonguay will get to the paint off the dribble any time he wants and finishes well. Caruso is just a pure scorer. An excellent shooter with a ton of confidence. They are a great duo."

 "The kid I love is Karsten Lemire. He has to be on your all-glue guy team. He doesn't need to shoot; he rebounds, sets screens, defends and does whatever you need. We as coaches love players like that, and I'm sure Nate appreciates him."

 "The most underrated player in the final four is Dennis Wainaina. He gives them an aspect defensively most teams don't possess. He's legit 6'8, and he averages, maybe, three blocks a game, but how many shots is he altering and affecting?"

 "Alize Roig Cortes is a big part of what they do. He defends in that zone, can handle the ball, and is a capable scorer. A very good athlete who compliments Castonguay and Caruso very well. There seems to be good chemistry there."

 "Nate has done an outstanding job, and the fact that they have won so many close games bodes well for their chances. They have a point guard who can get anywhere he wants with the ball and a knockdown shooter when the defense collapses."

 "On the other end, you have guards who can pressure, a good rebounder in Lemire, and a big-time rim protector in Dennis."

 "Add a veteran coach who has seen it all, and you understand they are not winning close games as they did against Merrimack and BG by accident."


 So who wins tonight?

"I have to go with Bedford."


 "Bedford, too much firepower."

 My pick: I think it will be close, but I'll go with Soden and O'Connell down the stretch,, the pick is Bedford.


(2) Pinkerton Academy vs. (3) Nashua North

 Pinkerton Academy Team Page

 Nashua North Team Page

 The Pinkerton Astros and Nashua North Titans finished the regular season 17-1 but did not face each other. They will tonight in the first semifinal, and we asked our coaches to break down both teams and the match-up, beginning with Dave Chase's Astros.

 "Dave has done an excellent job with this team. They'll give Nashua North some looks they haven't seen before tonight. Dave will game plan for specific teams, and I expect you'll see that tonight."

 "Pinkerton let you shoot over them last year and cleaned up the glass. This year they have extended their defense and will pressure the ball more on the perimeter. "

 "They'll mix in zone pressure with man-to-man and try to keep Nashua North off balance."

  We asked our coaches to break down the Astros players.

 "They are a three-headed monster (Jackson Marshall, Anthony & Tyrone Chinn). They all bring something different to the table and play very well together. Each has a unique skill set."

 "They run their sets very well, and it starts with Tyrone. He takes care of the ball and has evolved into a scorer. There have been nights when he has carried them for good portions of the game."

 "Jackson is incredibly impressive. He is a monster on the low block and very skilled. He will bury you on the block and has become a very good passer out of double teams."

 "We doubled him, and then he stepped outside and knocked down shots. It will be a tough match-up for Robinson Rodriguez, but I can't think of any big who will have an easy time covering Marshall."

 "Anthony is one of my favorite players; he does it all. He has a great mid-range game; he can knock down threes, guard any position, and gets a ton of points off the offensive glass. If you foul him, he hits free throws."

 "He's going to have a very good career at the college level."

 "They gave up a lot of open looks last year, but they are more disruptive now defensively."

 "Nashua North is not a very big team, and losing Trevor Labrecque makes them smaller. It will be interesting to see what Steve (Lane) does to combat that advantage Pinkerton has."

 "I like (Sean) Jenkins a lot. A very underrated player who can be a problem for your team. Parker Bienvenue will pressure the North guards, giving them two players that can effectively pressure you the entire floor length."

 "Ethan Johnston is another very valuable piece for them. They have the depth to hang with any team in the division."

 What about Steve Lane's Titans?

 “ It’s impressive what they have done without Trevor Labrecque (their all-state forward who is out for the season with an injury). It speaks a lot to the character of those kids, and the job Steve (Lane) does. He’s one of the best coaches in our division, and he sets the tone for that program.”

 “ Jayden Montgomery is tremendous. He gets them out in transition when they should be, slows them down into a half-court game when they need that, and finds open guys better than anyone I’ve seen.”

 “ With Jayden, it’s the patience he has. He will get in the paint, pump fake, pass fake, wait until he sees that opening, and then take it.”

 “Parth Miglani has really stepped up since Trevor went down. He is an excellent shooter and now will give you that up fake and put one in from the mid-range if you close out too hard.”

 Another coach gave his thoughts on North.

 “ Jayden controls the entire game on both ends. When I talk to coaches about our league before games, his name always comes up.”

 “ Jack Peters is a tough kid, and so is Jack Sullivan. Peters will rebound, defends, has really improved as a shooter, and is a winner.”

 “ Sullivan can get to the rim and is a physical defender. He’s someone who sometimes crosses the line as far as his physicality, but he is a key member of that team and why they are winning.”

 “They’ll play man-to-man defense and look to run. Their break doesn't seem like it is that intricate; it’s about getting the ball up the sidelines quickly, and they always seem to find Miglani up that left sideline.”

 “Adrian Lazo and Jaden Pena are two players I like a lot. Pena handles pressure well; he came up big against Exeter while Lazo can score, gets out, and finishes in transition.”

 “North has to be ready to run at every opportunity, it’s how they win this game, and Lazo & Miglani are the keys. They can hurt you in transition.”

 “ Robinson Rodriguez has really improved. He’s going to have to battle Marshall. If Jackson gets it on the low block, you almost have to give it up to stay out of foul trouble. They don't have depth when it comes to their bigs, so that will be key; staying out of foul trouble.”

 “ North has a lot of kids who will get in your players' faces, but they back it up. That’s the exact attitude they will need to beat Pinkerton.”


 So who wins tonight?

 “ I have to go with Pinkerton.”

 “ Nashua North..their speed will wear Pinkerton down”

 “ Pinkerton.”


 My pick: I’m going with Nashua North in a close one.



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Tag(s): Home  Boys Basketball  NHIAA Division I  Bedford  Nashua North  Nashua South  Pinkerton