Boys’ high schools: New-look Pittsfield basketball displaying traits of last year’s title team

  • Pittsfield guard Jah Gordon (right) collides with Concord Christian forward Isaac Jarvis as Gordon steals the ball during the first half on Friday night. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Pittsfield forward Jesse MacGlashing draws contact from Concord Christian forwards Samuel Calkins (left) and Isaac Jarvis (right) during the first half of Friday’s Division IV contest. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord Christian forward Josh Langlais gets blocked from behind by Pittsfield forward Jesse MacGlashing (right) during the first half on Friday, January 11, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/12/2019 12:22:32 AM

It’s still early in the season, but Pittsfield boys’ basketball head coach Jay Darrah already sees a lot of similarities between last year’s title-winning team and this year’s group.

The 2018-19 edition of the Panthers (6-2) certainly looked like last year’s championship team on Friday night, playing a fast-paced Pittsfield brand of basketball in a decisive 61-24 victory over Concord Christian (2-6) on the Kingsmen’s home court.

“What made last year’s team so special was the chemistry we had and that everyone knew their role,” Darrah said. “Everyone accepted their role. I see a lot of the characteristics of last year’s team in this year’s team.”

Although only one starter, senior Dylan Bocash (eight points, 12 rebounds), returns from last year’s squad, seven other players who battled with Pittsfield’s star players in practice night-in and night-out and bought into the team culture, returned this winter. And Pittsfield’s 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and 30-15 lead at halftime gave those players plenty of chances to shine.

“Our defensive pressure was what got us going,” Darrah said. “We were able to force some turnovers, get in transition and run. That’s one of the things that we always do. We force our opponents to play at a higher pace.”

Senior Spencer Strouth (14 points, seven rebounds) and junior Devin Bedell (14 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) led Pittsfield’s scoring and helped put an exclamation point on the game in the third quarter, when the Panthers outscored the Kingsmen, 22-6.

Concord Christian only managed three points in the fourth quarter, despite a solid night offensively from Jacob Taylor (13 points).

“We used different setups and rotations with different guys,” said Darrah, referring to eight of his 10 players in the scoring column.

More important than the win, which puts Pittsfield in the fifth-place spot in the Division IV standings, were signs that the Panthers are filling in the gaps left by last year’s talented class.

“There’s a lot of things these guys have taken over,” Darrah said. “Chandler Norris has taken over Matt St. George’s tenacity on defense, so has Jesse MacGlashing. Dylan (Bocash) has taken over for Josh Whittier as our rim protector and presence in the paint.

Another positive sign is that Bedell, who missed last year after recovering from a brain tumor removed shortly before the start of last season, has emerged as this year’s top scorer, filling in the large shoes of last season’s Division IV Player of the Year, Cam Darrah.

“(Devin) was going to be our sixth man last year,” Darrah said. “This year he’s taken over the role as our go-to guy. He’s the guy who gets us a basket when we need it. He’s not afraid take that shot and go to the rim.”

It’s not just the returning players contributing, either.

Junior guard Tyler Prentice, a newcomer to the team, has also been an asset to Pittsfield this year.

“He’s catching up really fast,” Darrah said. “He’s been a big energy guy for us.”

Across the board, Darrah is pleased with the effort put forth by his players so far. He knew that the Panthers had the pieces to put together a solid team that could make a run in the D-IV postseason tournament, but admitted that how quickly they have come together has exceeded expectations.

“These guys have arrived sooner than expected,” Darrah said. “We’re very happy with how they’re playing. They’re willingness to play hard and play at that level is the reason for our record.”

Boys’ Basketball

Pelham 54, Pembroke 49

Key players: Pembroke – Noah Cummings (16 points), Tim Pitman (15 points), Shea Shackford (10 points)

Highlights: In a battle of two of the top teams in Division II, the Spartans suffered their first loss of the regular season despite holding a 42-36 lead through three quarters.

Coach’s quote: “They were extremely physical and we didn’t handle it well. I tip my hat to Pelham, and it’s back to the basics for us.” – Pembroke’s Rich Otis

Records: Pelham 5-2; Pembroke 5-1

Bow 77, Stevens 32

Key players: Bow – Nick Kiah (18 points), Ben Harris (15 points, 12 rebounds), Will Cohen (14 points), Shaun Lover (13 points)

Highlights: The Falcons blew the game open in the third quarter with 29 points and connected on six of their 11 3-pointers in the same frame.

Coach’s quote: “We were strong on both ends of the floor tonight and all 11 guys contributed. It was a great first win for us.” – Bow’s Frank Moreno

Records: Bow 1-5; Stevens 0-6

John Stark 60, Laconia 49

Key players: John Stark – Christian Barr (18 points, 15 rebounds), Noah Gamache (13 points, 6 steals), Aaron Bergeron (10 points), Peyton Marden (12 points, 9-for-10 FT)

Highlights: The Generals trailed 22-9 after the first quarter, cut the deficit to one point at halftime, took the lead in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth. Gamache played clutch defense in the second and third quarters to help spark the comeback.

Coach’s quote: “It was a big win for us. I was really happy with our defense, especially after the first quarter.” – John Stark’s Mike Smith

Records: John Stark 2-3; Laconia 2-4

Bishop Brady 53, Lebanon 47

Key players: Bishop Brady – Ismael Rivera (18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists), Will Spencer (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals), Billy Fraser (10 points, 6 rebounds), Tommy Fraser (7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists)

Highlights: The Giants only led by one point at halftime, but extended it to 15 points with three minutes left in the game before the Raiders ended the game with a brief rally.

Coach’s quote: “Tough defense and rebounding and getting on their shooters was the key for us tonight.” – Bishop Brady’s Keith Bergeron

Records: Bishop Brady 3-4; Lebanon 3-2

Kearsarge 51, Milford 47

Key players: Kearsarge – Noah Tremblay (26 points, 7 steals, 5 rebounds), Kyle Hernon (10 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks), Adrian McCarthy (7 points), Emerson Tyler, Scott Bassi, Ben Carl, Jak Jallah

Highlights: The Cougars led 11-5 after the first quarter, trailed 23-22 at halftime, led 33-27 through three and a pair of made free throws from both Tremblay and McCarthy in the final minute secured the win. The biggest factor to Kearsarge’s win, however, was the Cougars’ team defense, which was strong throughout, but especially strong in the first quarter (held Spartans to five points) and third quarter (four points). Tyler, Bassi, Carl and Jallah all made significant contributions on the defensive end of the floor.

Coach’s quote: “Defense was outstanding tonight. We didn’t let people get by us off the dribble. ... Great way to bounce back after a tough loss on Monday.” – Kearsarge’s Nate Camp

Records: Kearsarge 3-3; Milford 3-3

Souhegan 48, Coe-Brown 45

Key players: Coe-Brown – Luke McCusker (16 points, 10 rebounds), Jacob Rich (9 points, 4 assists), Keegan Paradis (5 points, 3 steals), Cayden Donoghue (4 points), Spencer Murphy (4 points), Albert Lapiejko (3 points, 8 rebounds)

Highlights: The Bears pounced early for a seven-point lead in the first quarter, but the Sabers turned it around and built an eight-point advantage in the second half. Coe-Brown battled back and had a good look in the final seconds but the shot didn’t fall.

Coach’s quote: “Our defense was solid all night and kept us in the game, but our offense struggled.” – Coe-Brown’s Dave Smith

Records: Souhegan 5-1; Coe-Brown 1-3

St. Thomas 51, Belmont 49

Highlights: The Raiders led most of the second half after overcoming free-throw shooting woes, but Belmont ran into foul trouble late in the game and couldn’t hold on to the lead.

Coach’s quote: “The biggest difference in the game was they hit their free throws and made their layups and we had trouble shooting free throws in the first half and then missed a couple crucial layups that could have stretched the lead to seven or more points but instead allowed them to transition back and score to cut it to three points. Pleased with the effort but we just didn’t do enough little things to close out a tough road win.” – Belmont’s Jim Cilley

Records: St. Thomas 5-1; Belmont 5-2

Mascenic 67, Franklin 47

Key players: Franklin – Ben Lafrance (17 points), T.J. Laramie (13 points)

Highlights: Mascenic’s Sam Stauffeneker came out of the gates scoring 16 of his 22 points in the first quarter and the Vikings’ bench outmatched the Tornadoes’ depth.

Coach’s quote: “We knew this was going to be a tough game. Mascenic is a team that can go eight deep. We got Stauffeneker in foul trouble at the half and cut the lead to 12.” – Franklin’s Michael Donnell

Records: Mascenic 4-2; Franklin 2-4

Somersworth 69, Winnisquam 50

Key players: Winnisquam – Kyle Mann (23 points), Phil Nichols (8 points), Angelo Glover (7 points)

Highlights: The Bears trailed the Hilltoppers, 41-18, at halftime and couldn’t recover in the second half.

Records: Somersworth 5-2; Winnisquam 2-3

Boys’ Alpine ski

Kearsarge 2nd, Concord 3rd

Key players: Kearsarge – Aiden Markoff (2nd), Seth Rutledge-Davis (11th), Jacob Long (12th), Patrick Lee (13th); Concord – Neil Shea (5th), Sean McDonough (8th), Liam Devanny (10th), Simon Foisey (18th)

Highlights: The Division III Cougars held their own in a slalom meet against D-I schools at Mount Sunapee, finishing second out of eight teams.

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