By: KJ Cardinal & Jayda Davis
It’s crunch time in NHIAA basketball with state tournament play looming right around the corner. While some teams are vying to just make the playoffs or perhaps secure a coveted home game, there are six well-oiled machines around the Granite State that are still in search of perfection.
Let’s take a look at the six remaining unbeatens…
Division I Boys: Bedford
Frank Moreno’s Bulldogs have their sights set on back-to-back state titles and with a perfect 14-0 mark, it’s hard not to think they’ll get there. Bedford’s high-octane offense is averaging a scorching 81.1 points per game and winning by nearly 24 points per contest.
Luke Soden has been nothing short of amazing this season, pouring in 26.5 PPG, while Brady O’Connell (15.5 PPG) and Austin Kasyjanski (13.7 PPG) are the mainstays for the Bulldog fire power.
Bedford has only played in three games this season that were decided by single digits, with a three-point win over Manchester Memorial being the biggest test thus far for the Bulldogs. However, that may all change tonight as Bedford heads to Derry to take on 13-1 Pinkerton in a rematch of last year’s championship game. You can watch that game live here (PPV).
Division I Girls: Bedford & Pinkerton
In what could be a preview of the 2024 title game, it’s a battle of the unbeatens tonight in Bedford when the Bulldogs (14-0) host Pinkerton (14-0). You can watch that game live here (FREE).
These two squads have been absolutely steam-rolling the rest of the division. Bedford is winning by an average margin of 42.9 PPG. The Bulldogs six-point victory, 56-50, at Portsmouth back on Jan. 23 is their only win this season coming by less than 30 points. Let that sink in for a second.
Pinkerton is also winning by a 31.6-point clip with their closest game being a 17-point victory at Dover on Jan. 26. Lani Buskey’s Astros are led by the top scorer in the division Elizabeth Lavoie (20.0 PPG) and two other double-digit scorers: Sydney Gerossie (15.5) and Brooke Benz (10.2).
Kevin Gibbs’ Bulldogs boast the most dominant player in the state with Lana McCarthy. The McDonald’s All-American Game nominee is averaging 13.9 PPG in often limited minutes due to Bedford’s 40+ point victories. The Purdue commit is paired with Kate Allard (13.4 PPG) to form an extremely tough duo.
Division IV Boys: Profile
The 16-0 little town of Bethlehem Profile Patriots could be the most fun team to watch in the state. This group of perennial north-country underdogs is not only the divisions top dog this season, but one of the top teams in the state, regardless of division. Period.
We’ve witnessed first-hand the Patriots defeat opponents from all four Divisions and Mitchell Roy’s squad would most definitely compete with any foe put in front of them. The biggest reasons for this: seniors Josh Robie and Alex Leslie.
While his shot may look unorthodox, Robie (26.4 PPG) is an absolute sniper from deep and his improved mid-range game and playmaking abilities are the driving force behind Profile’s perfect start. Leslie (19.8 PPG) is one of the most athletic bigs in the division and his ability to get downhill and finish on opponents can be deadly at times.
Seemingly always in the way for Profile has been Woodsville and Littleton. The Patriots have knocked off Woodsville once this season and twice defeated the Crusaders, including a five-point win, 62-57, on Jan. 31. Profile heads to Woodsville tonight in the final big regular-season test remaining for the Patriots.
Division II Girls: Concord Christian
When we said “well-oiled machines”, the first team that comes to mind is Concord Christian. After winning the Division IV crown two years ago and the D-III title last season, the 12-0 Kingsmen seem poised to earn the D-II championship this March.
Rebecca Carlile’s squad simply wears teams down. There isn’t a more conditioned team in the state and CCA’s uptempo style, defensive prowess and the ability to take care of the rock is a brand of basketball that is impressive to watch.
Leading the way for the Kingsmen is Emma Smith (19.2 PPG) and Lilli Carlile (18.6). CCA has already taken care of business twice this season versus the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams with wins over Laconia and Pembroke. The Kingsmen head to Laconia on Feb. 15 for the biggest remaining challenge on the regular-season slate.
Division IV Girls: Littleton
If defense wins championships, then we could certainly see Littleton cutting down the nets at Colby-Sawyer College on March 2nd.
The Crusaders are holding teams to a minuscule 30.7 PPG and winning by an average margin of 27.3 PPG. Only three teams have been able to reach the 40-point plateau versus Littleton all season long.
Dale Prior’s balanced offense is led by a trio of double-digit scorers: Lauryn Corrigan (10.8 PPG), Addison Pilgrim (10.2) and Addison Hadlock (10.1).
The last tough test for the Crusaders this regular season will come tonight as Littleton hosts 15-1 Groveton. The Crusaders escaped Groveton with a narrow five-point win, 39-34, in a defensive battle back on Jan. 5.