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Pembroke boys make it two titles in a row

  • Pembroke's Kafani Williams turns to share the glory of the first-place trophy with fans after the Spartans victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth, 49-40, in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Kafani Williams turns to share the glory of the first-place trophy with fans after the Spartans victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth, 49-40, in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Pat Welch lines up a shot over the Portsmouth defense during the Spartans' 49-40 victory in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. Welch contributed 15 points. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Pat Welch lines up a shot over the Portsmouth defense during the Spartans' 49-40 victory in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. Welch contributed 15 points.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Patrick Welch celebrates with his teammates after the victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Patrick Welch celebrates with his teammates after the victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Benjamin Curran drives the ball past Portsmouth defense. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Benjamin Curran drives the ball past Portsmouth defense. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Benjamin Curran falls while trying to score over Portsmouth defense. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Benjamin Curran falls while trying to score over Portsmouth defense. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Cameron Taylor knocks a rebound away from Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Cameron Taylor knocks a rebound away from Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Connor Boucher looks to pass. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Connor Boucher looks to pass. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams powers through a lay up over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Jordan Williams powers through a lay up over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams and Patrick Welch celebrate together after Welch was fouled with just a minute to go on the clock. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Jordan Williams and Patrick Welch celebrate together after Welch was fouled with just a minute to go on the clock. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams attempts to block a shot. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Jordan Williams attempts to block a shot. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams powers through a lay up over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Jordan Williams powers through a lay up over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Kafani Williams turns to share the glory of the first-place trophy with fans after the Spartans victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth, 49-40, in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Pembroke's Kafani Williams turns to share the glory of the first-place trophy with fans after the Spartans victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth, 49-40, in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Pembroke's Kafani Williams turns to share the glory of the first-place trophy with fans after the Spartans victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth, 49-40, in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Pat Welch lines up a shot over the Portsmouth defense during the Spartans' 49-40 victory in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. Welch contributed 15 points. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Patrick Welch celebrates with his teammates after the victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Benjamin Curran drives the ball past Portsmouth defense. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Benjamin Curran falls while trying to score over Portsmouth defense. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Cameron Taylor knocks a rebound away from Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Connor Boucher looks to pass. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams powers through a lay up over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams and Patrick Welch celebrate together after Welch was fouled with just a minute to go on the clock. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams attempts to block a shot. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Jordan Williams powers through a lay up over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth 49-40 in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Pembroke's Kafani Williams turns to share the glory of the first-place trophy with fans after the Spartans victory over Portsmouth. Pembroke defeated Portsmouth, 49-40, in the Division II final on Saturday afternoon, March 15, 2014 at UNH. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

DURHAM – The team belonged to Pat Welch and Kafani Williams from start to finish. And before yesterday’s Division II championship, the two Pembroke Academy seniors had a heart-to-heart about playing in the final and facing the only team they had lost to all season, Portsmouth.

“We were talking before the game and saying this our last high school game ever, let’s make it a good one and go out with a win,” Welch said. “We didn’t want to lose to them twice and have our last game be a loss in the championship. So we came out and put all of our heart into the game.”

They also put most of the points into it for the Spartans. Williams finished with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds and Welch had 15 as top-seeded Pembroke (21-1) won its second straight D-II title and avenged its only loss of the year with a 49-40 win over No. 2 Portsmouth (19-3).

“Pat could win Player of the Year or Kafani could win Player of the Year. Stop. That’s it,” Pembroke Coach Matt Alosa said. “One of them has to win it. … They’re both tremendous players, and that’s why you win.”

Williams said he was simply “calm, ready to play” before the game, but he came out on fire, scoring seven of Pembroke’s first nine points as the Spartans jumped out to a 20-11 lead after the first quarter. That nine-point cushion proved to be the difference, because after that the Clippers played even with Pembroke.

While Williams was the catalyst for that early run, Pembroke’s other starters also played key roles. Junior forward Dominic Timbas, who guarded Pelham’s best player in the Spartans’ semifinal win on Saturday night, morphed into a 6-foot-5 distributor, assisting on two of Pembroke’s first three baskets. And juniors Cameron Taylor and Max Curran each hit 3-pointers as the Spartans opened up a 13-4 lead halfway through the first quarter.

The effectiveness of Timbas, Taylor and Curran also opened up the court for Welch. The Clippers used a box-and-1 defense to limit Welch when they claimed a 53-49 win in Pembroke on Jan. 30, and they were using that same defense early in yesterday’s game until the other Spartans started producing.

And all of the Spartans had a hand in the team’s lock-down defense, which has been Pembroke’s calling card all year. Portsmouth shot just 31.4 percent (16-for-51) for the game, and even when the Clippers defense was forcing late turnovers and making things tight in the fourth, they couldn’t truly take advantage against the suffocating Spartans.

“It’s either us or Portsmouth who’s the best defensive team in the state,” said Alosa, who switched effectively from man to zone throughout the game. “That’s why we’re here. … We’ve got great scorers, but we did it this year on the defensive end.”

That defense had limited the Clippers to just five points in the second quarter before Nick Mackey hit a 3 at the buzzer that gave Portsmouth a little life going into the break and cut Pembroke’s lead to 28-19. The lead stayed between eight and 12 for the entire third quarter, but there were some troubling signs for the Spartans at the end of the frame as they committed turnovers on four of their final five possessions.

Portsmouth continued to extend its defensive pressure and force turnovers in the fourth, and when Donovan Phanor (15 points, three assists, four rebounds) hit a jumper with 5:09 left on the clock, Pembroke’s once comfortable lead was down to 41-36. The Clippers had multiple chances to get even closer during the next three minutes, but Pembroke wouldn’t allow it, forcing Portsmouth to go 0-for-7 during that stretch.

Welch pushed the lead back to seven points on a driving bucket with 1:58 left, and Williams effectively closed the door when he grabbed an offensive rebound in the middle of three Clippers and then powered his way through the crowd for a layup to make it 45-36 with 1:33 to play.

“I think he’s the strongest guy in the division, maybe even in the whole state,” Welch said of the 6-4 Williams. “He bullies everyone down there, and when he gets the ball I don’t think you can take it from him.”

It’s the end of a remarkable run for Welch. He was a four-year starter, scored more than 1,900 points, helped his team to a 77-7 record, including last year’s perfect 22-0 mark, and delivered two state titles, bringing Pembroke Academy’s boys’ basketball championship total to seven, the most in Class I/D-II history.

“At the end, coach told me, ‘You’re my man for four years,’ and I just told him thank you. He’s like my brother slash coach slash friend, and it was awesome playing for him,” Welch said. “I was just thinking that this was the best for four years.”

And it’s the end of a remarkable season for Williams. He was a starter on last year’s title team, but he transformed from a role player into a star this year, and he showed it by scoring more points and grabbing more rebounds than anyone else on the floor in the biggest game of the season.

“There was just a smile on my face at the end, that’s all I know,” Williams said. “This is the happiest time in my life.”

Related

Pembroke’s first-quarter outburst

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pembroke took control of yesterday’s D-II final right out of the gate, then held on thanks to that early advantage. The Spartans’ early first-quarter burst: Kafani Williams drive, 2-0, 7:52 Cameron Taylor 3-pointer, Dominic Timbas assist, 5-0, 6:02 Williams jumper, Timbas assist, 7-0, 5:40 Williams layup plus free throw, 10-2, 4:30 Max Curran 3-pointer, Taylor assist, 13-4, 4:15 …

Pembroke’s seven titles

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pembroke won its seventh boys’ basketball title yesterday, the most in Division II/Class I history. The Spartans’ titles: 1968 Pembroke 56, Littleton 52 1972 Pembroke 87, Fall Mountain 71 1978 Pembroke 57, Laconia 46 1985 Pembroke 55, Fall Mountain 52 1991 Pembroke 79, Merrimack Valley 61 2013 Pembroke 49, Souhegan 41 2014 Pembroke 49, Portsmouth 40 …

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