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Pembroke boys capture Capital Area Tournament title, beating Concord, 58-34

  • Pembroke's Kafani Williams aims for a shot past Concord's Robert Kelly during the finals of the Capitol Area Holiday Tournament on December 30, 2012 at NHTi.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Pembroke's Kafani Williams aims for a shot past Concord's Robert Kelly during the finals of the Capitol Area Holiday Tournament on December 30, 2012 at NHTi.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Concord's Samuel Marquis tries to squeeze a shot between Pembroke defense during the finals of the Capitol Area Holiday Tournament on ecember 30, 2012 at NHTi. Pembroke defeated Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Concord's Samuel Marquis tries to squeeze a shot between Pembroke defense during the finals of the Capitol Area Holiday Tournament on ecember 30, 2012 at NHTi. Pembroke defeated Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Pembroke's Kafani Williams aims for a shot past Concord's Robert Kelly during the finals of the Capitol Area Holiday Tournament on December 30, 2012 at NHTi.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Concord's Samuel Marquis tries to squeeze a shot between Pembroke defense during the finals of the Capitol Area Holiday Tournament on ecember 30, 2012 at NHTi. Pembroke defeated Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

The Pembroke Academy boys’ basketball team claimed the Capital Area Holiday Tournament trophy yesterday by following a familiar formula: Play strong defense and get the ball to its three top scorers. The Spartans, still undefeated in the 2012-13 season, won their third game in three days with a solid performance on both sides of the ball to defeat Concord, 58-34.

Pembroke built a 10-point lead going into halftime and kept the Crimson Tide from getting any closer. The Spartans held Concord to six points in both the second and third quarters to build a double-digit advantage. While Pembroke played well on the offensive side of the ball (shooting 50 percent), it was strong defense that allowed them to pull ahead.

“Our defense spurs our offense,” Pembroke Coach Matt Alosa said. “Our goal is always to try to speed the other team up.”

Persistent defense led to an unraveling of Concord’s offense. The Tide had kept pace with Pembroke in the early going, thanks to 3-point shots made by the Marquis brothers – Kaleb and Sam – in the first quarter, but starting in the second quarter and carrying into the second half, turnovers started to become a problem. Concord finished with 17 giveaways and had trouble scoring in the paint, relying instead on 3-point shots.

“(Pembroke) played us strong defensively and was able to get out and run,” Concord Coach John Finnegan said.

Leading the charge for the Spartans on offense was the usual trio of scorers, led by Tournament MVP (and recent 1,000-point scorer) Pat Welch, and followed by seniors Matt Persons and Rene Maher (both named to the All-Tournament Team). Welch had the game’s high point total with 17, demonstrating a varied offensive skill set by scoring on fast-break layups, 3-point shots and from the foul line. Maher set the tempo for Pembroke’s aggressive play with several strong drives to the basket and got to the line often, finishing with 15 points, while Persons (seven points) hit a timely 3-pointer and added four assists. Forward Kafani Williams was a steady presence inside and added nine points with six rebounds and four steals.

Pembroke was able to build its lead off of defense. The Spartans forced Concord outside, capitalized on turnovers and got to the free throw line.

Concord, meanwhile, wasn’t able to sustain steady offense for an extended period of time and was kept at arm’s length by Pembroke’s consistent play. There were some bright spots for the Tide, which saw Sam Marquis score from outside and end up with nine points, while Kaleb Marquis (picked for the All-Tournament Team) added seven points but got into foul trouble in the second half. Bakir Bascelic (six points, nine rebounds) and Walter Szulc (five points and two boards off the bench) also showed bright play for Concord.

The Tide will take heart from getting two come-from-behind wins in the tournament and is hoping to continue to improve.

“We’ll take our lumps,” Finnegan said, “and learn as we go.”

Pembroke will hope to keep up its winning ways by sticking to a consistent game plan, which worked throughout the tournament.

“It’s a good learning experience to play back-to-back-to-back games,” Alosa said.

At this rate, the Spartans could be playing more back-to-backs, deep into the postseason.

∎ Also named to the All-Tournament team were Bishop Brady’s Jourdain Bell and John Stark’s Nic Lloyd.

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