Year in Review - New Hampshire
State champions were crowned this weekend bringing the 2013-2014 basketball season in the NHIAA to an official end. Here's a look back at the programs that became champions and the players that emerged as stars this season in New Hampshire:
NHIAA Division 1 – Manchester Central 70 Merrimack 61
All season long Central was the best team in the state, and they completed their undefeated season with a win over Merrimack in the finals. Central was led by their ‘Big 3’ of junior guard Brett Hanson, junior wing Joey Martin and senior wing Jon Martin. Hanson poured in 24 points and the Martin brothers combined for 38. Hanson had a breakout year, and the Martin brothers both had big years after moving to NH from Florida.
Central jumped out to a big lead, but Merrimack battled back led by senior guard Eric Gendron, who played a great in the final game of his career with 32 points. The lead was down to four, but then Joey Martin hit a clutch 3-pointer followed by a huge drive and and-1 finish by Hanson.
In the state semi-finals Manchester Memorial took Central to double-overtime before falling 99-91 in the game of the year. Trevon Maughn was unconscious, going off for 30 points, and teammate Kabongo Ngalukulondi hit a 3 to send it to overtime. In the other semi-final Merrimack defeated Trinity, despite a big game for Trinity forward Wenyen Gabriel.
NHIAA Division 2 – Pembroke 49 Portsmouth 40
Pembroke had arguably the two best players in the division, so it's no surprise that they're the champs. Senior guard Patrick Welch averaged 24 points per game and had 15 in the title game win over Portsmouth, while Kafani 'Jordan' Williams averaged 19 points and 13 boards a game and dominated was an absolute force in the finals with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Portsmouth gave it their all and is a well coached team led by seniors Pat Glynn and Donovan Phanor, but didn't quite have enough firepower to hang with Pembroke. It was Pembroke's second straight D-II championship. Welch ends his career with over 2,000 points, second on the school's all-time scoring list behind his head coach Matt Alosa.
NHIAA Division 3 – Conant 40 Campbell 36
It was all about defense in this one. Conant only gave up two points in two different quarters in the finals, and they held their opponents to under 40 in all four tournament games. Senior forward Eli Hodgson was the best rebounder and defender in the division, and Conant senior guard Robert O'Brien is the division's best pure scorer. Conant was in control of the title game right from the beginning, jumping out in front 10-2.
Campbell was led by junior forward Zach Bergeon with 18 points, despite having Conant's entire defense geared towards stopping him. Campbell was able to reach the finals even though they had no seniors on their roster. As for Conant, it was their second title in a row and seventh D-III championship in the last 9 years.
NHIAA Division 4 – Epping 74 Sunapee 70
Epping came back from a double digit deficit to beat Sunapee for the championship. Epping was led by likely D-IV Player of the Year Jimmy Stanley, who dropped a game-high 26 points. Stanley can score inside and out, he can rebound, pass and defend.
Despite the loss, Sunapee still had a great season. They were the highest scoring team in the state, and were led by a pair of quick, sharp-shooting sophomore guards in Issaiah Chappell and Matt Tenney, son of head coach Ed Tenney.
NERR’s All-NHIAA Team
Eric Gendron, 6’3 senior (Merrimack) – Hard to argue with Gendron being listed as the best player in the state, considering he has won NH Gatorade Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Gendron put his team on his back, leading them to the D-I finals and scoring 32 points and pulling down 14 rebounds in the title game. Gendron had the ability to take a game over at any time, but was very consistent at the same time. He has a strong frame, can handle the ball, shoot it and has developed into a great finisher around the rim.
Patrick Welch, 6’1” senior (Pembroke) – The best pure shooter to come out of NH in recent years, Welch averaged over 20 points per game all four years. This year he was moved to the point, meaning he had to score the basketball and distribute. This helped prepare him for playing at the next level. Welch is an ultimate competitor, and his crossover-into-jumper move is simply deadly.
Wenyen Gabriel,6’8” junior (Trinity) – Gabriel’s game took big strides this year, and the scary part is he still has more upside. At 6-foot-8, Gabriel was not only scoring, rebounding and blocking shots but also expanded his game out to the perimeter. In addition to extending his shooting range beyond the arc, Gabriel is also taking his man off the dribble now and leading the break.
Brett Hanson, 6’2” junior (Manchester Central) – Another kid who had a breakout junior year, as like Gabriel, Hanson also went from a role player as a sophomore to a legit star as a junior. Hanson emerged as one of the state’s most lethal scorers with a motor that is always going 100%. Hanson can shoot it from the outside or score off the bounce, and is also a tough defender.
Jourdain Bell, 6’0” junior (Bishop Brady) – Bell was once again the state’s most explosive player in the open court, and was even more dangerous to defend because he is just as good a passer as he is a scorer. Bell is quick, plays bigger than his height due to his strength and leaping ability and has also improved his outside shot.
Other standout players
Kafani Williams, 6’4” senior (Pembroke) – Most kids from NH simply can’t match up with Williams physically. He’s big, strong, athletic and quick. This year his skill set caught up with physicality, and as a result his potential turned into production.
Jon Martin, 6’3” senior (Manchester Central) – Not as widely known around New England since he just moved up here from Florida in September, but Martin exploded onto the NH basketball scene this winter. He’s takes it hard to the rim, can shoot it and is also a great passer.
Robert O’Brien, 6’2” senior (Conant) – Won second straight title at Conant, and this year O’Brien stepped up his game as the team’s go-to guy. He’s cool under pressure, a smooth jumper and can play the 1 or the 2.
Kabongo Ngalukulondi, 6’2” junior (Manchester Memorial) – this young man has as good a mid-range game as anyone in the NHIAA. He has a variety of tough dribble-drive moves to get in the lane, and knows when to pull-up and when to take it all the way to the rim. Just has a knack for putting the ball in the bucket.
Joey Martin, 6’3” junior (Manchester Central) – He and his brother Jon took the NHIAA by storm, coming out of nowhere to dominate the league. Joey is an absolute sniper from the outside, as he hit 8 threes en route to 36 points in the semi-finals and the biggest shot of the title game.
Trevon Maughn, 5’10” junior (Manchester Memorial) – The most improved player in the state, Maughn emerged as a lethal scorer by the end of the season, going off for 24, 32 and 35 in his team’s playoff games. He can flat out shoot it, and thrives in an up-tempo style game.
To read more of Jeremy's coverage of the New Hampshire basketball recruiting scene, visit the New Hampshire Notebook at www.nhnotebook.com