(Durham NH) It’s on to the D2 finals for Portsmouth as they defeated Coe-Brown Northwood, 55-46, on Wednesday night at UNH.
The (19-2) Clippers return to the finals (Saturday 1PM) for the second straight year. Last year they were taken out by undefeated Milford. Their opponent this time around with be #5 seed Bedford.
My preview reading about the Portsmouth/Coe-Brown matchup revealed that the (12-9) Bears had already lost twice (in January) to Portsmouth. However, the score in the first meeting was 54-53 so, despite being the #11 seed, there existed the possibility that the team from Northwood might be able to challenge the Clippers.
And challenge they did, holding a lead (34-33) midway through the third quarter and being within two points (44-42) with 4 ½ minutes left in the game.
But Portsmouth put together a decisive pull away in that final quarter after Damon Doyle’s triple (off the backboard from straight away) put the Bears within two points.
The Clippers have the outside game but it was the inside game over the next game-clinching two minutes that gave Portsmouth a run of six unanswered points. A Charlie Duprey layup, a short jumper from Kyle Dicesare (assist to Kamahl Walker), and a Gregg Tsougranis layup (from Billy Lane) produced the points that gave Portsmouth its largest lead (50-42) with 2:20 remaining.
The Clippers spread the floor thereafter and made five of six free throws the rest of the way to gain a 55-46 victory.
Senior 6-2 Gregg Tsougranis (17 points) quietly led the Clippers in scoring. He had thirteen points in the second half. Among those points were three converted rebounds. He totaled nine rebounds.
Darren Doyon (20 points) had a terrific final game. The 5-11 Bear senior somehow gathered in ten rebounds. He hit two triples in the last thirty seconds of the first period to give Coe-Brown a 14-11 advantage.
In the second period long ones were big late but this time by Portsmouth. In the last 1 ½ minutes, Billy Lane (14 points) hit one and twenty second later it was Kamahl Walker’s turn. That quick six and a Charlie Duprey free throw gave the Clippers a 31-24 halftime margin.
I thought at halftime that #2 seed Portsmouth might pull away in the second half………and they did but it wasn’t until late in the last quarter.
Coe-Brown had what looked to be almost everyone from the academy in the stands and their support was loud and steady. The Bears excited their student base by putting together a 10-2 segment to start the third quarter and grabbed a 34-33 lead.
During this productive run of Bear offense, Darren Doyon contributed old-fashioned and new-fashioned three’s sandwiched around two Corey Gerlt free throws and a Skyler Mitchell layin.
The Clippers were not behind for long. Almost immediately they had a lead-for-good layup by Billy Lane and followed that with Gregg Tsougranis twice in close. Portsmouth was ahead by two (39-37) after three.
The teams traded five points in the last quarter before the decisive six-spot by Portsmouth put them in the driver’s seat and into the finals on Saturday.
Kamahl Walker had a good news/ bad news double/double – ten points and eleven turnovers. The Coe-Brown section was quick to chant that the 5-11 senior was “over rated.”
This was my first trip to the Lundholm Gym at UNH. The site was well managed and the seating fit the crowd.
Both schools brought bands but no cheerleaders. I was very impressed with the music produced.
Almost all the games I cover are in Massachusetts where there is a 30-second shot clock. The game is different in NH minus that clock. A couple of times I was aware that Portsmouth was holding onto the ball on the perimeter for over thirty seconds because the Bears were in a zone.
(The pictures above and below enlarge significantly if you click on them.)