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Bedford caps off undefeated season with championship

By Nathaniel Ford

DURHAM – The Bedford Bulldogs, in their seventh championship appearance in the last decade, defeated the Pinkerton Astros 60-41 for the Division-I title. 

After falling short of taking home the trophy in 2022 and 2023, the Bulldogs were able to get it done tonight. Their victory tonight caps off a perfect 21-0 season. 

Bedford got off to a slow start, scoring only 5 points in the first four minutes of the quarter. It was all Pinkerton, who, led by Brooke Benze, jumped out to an early 9-5 lead. 

Bedford fought and kept it close, mainly due to the play of Lana McCarthy, who scored an impressive 13 points in the first quarter. Despite this, the Astros held the lead 18-16 entering the second frame. 

Pinkerton was led by sophomore Brooke Benz, who scored 8 points for the Astros, including two three pointers.

The second quarter was slow for both teams offensively, with each side being held scoreless for a multi-minute drought in the middle of the frame. 

Pinkerton held a 4 point lead for a portion of the quarter, and they brought lots of defensive intensity to hold Bedford scoreless. The Bulldogs seemed rattled by the increased energy from both the players and the fans. 

McCarthy picked up her third foul and came out of the game, so it looked as if Bedford’s scoring woes would continue. However, they were able to find a groove. Due to a 7-0 run to end the quarter, they entered the second half leading 26-23.

Only three players scored for the Bulldogs. McCarthy led the way with a game-high 13 first-half points, while Sarah Muir added 8 and Kate Allard scored 5 of her own.

Pinkerton was led by Benz’s 11 points. Kaylee Dupuis carried the rest of the load, scoring 7 points as well. Alexandria White contributed greatly on the glass, grabbing a game-high 7 rebounds. 

To start the third quarter, everything was going in the favor of the Astros. Shortly into the period, McCarthy picked up her fourth foul and was taken out of the game. 

Amidst this, Pinkerton went on an 11-2 led by Elizabeth Lavoie, who knocked down a three and got a pair of baskets in the paint. Her 7 points propelled them to a 4 point lead over the Bulldogs. 

Despite their leading scorer being out of the game, Bedford rallied and put together a huge end to the quarter, finishing on an 11-2 run coming out of a timeout. Four out of five players on the floor during the run scored, and they entered the fourth up 43-36. 

Baskets in transition were what propelled Bedford during the third quarter. Nearly all of their field goals were on the fast break, and they continuously wore down Pinkerton and were able to find success beating them down the floor. 

In the fourth quarter, Bedford ran away with it like they had in most games this season. The lead stayed around a 10 point lead for the first part of the quarter. 

Down by double figures, Pinkerton had to start fouling. Between Bedford knocking down free throws and Pinkerton not being able to connect on outside shots, the lead grew even more. Bedford ended up with a 60-41 victory in the title game.

The Bulldogs were led by standout senior Lana McCarthy, who, despite dealing with foul trouble all game, finished with a game-high 20 points. Kate Allard (14) and Sarah Muir (12) added double figures of their own, with Allard grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Astros were paced by 14 points from Brooke Benz and 13 points from Kaylee Dupuis. Alexandria White, despite scoring 0 points, made a big impact on the glass, grabbing a team-high 9 rebounds. 

Pinkerton had a fantastic season, with a 17-1 regular season record, earning the second seed in the division. While they came up short tonight, they played with lots of energy and passion, and they received unbelievable support from their fans tonight. 

This marked Bedford’s fourth consecutive appearance in the title game. While they have some key contributors graduating, they return a lot of their core, and they will look to add to their continued success over the last decade.

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Strong second half powers Pinkerton to D-I title

By Nathaniel Ford

DURHAM – The bleachers were full, and fans had to find standing room to watch the Pinkerton Astros defeat the Nashua North Titans 9076 in the Division I championship at UNH. 

Pinkerton was defending runner ups from last season and got back to the big game, and they were able to bring home the title this season. This is their first D-I championship victory since the 2010 season.

After finishing the season 17-1, the Astros earned the top seed in the division. They averaged a historic 84.4 points per contest, and did not slow down in the playoffs, scoring 101 in the quarterfinal, 82 in the semis, and 90 points today. 

The first quarter was fireworks early. Nashua’s Robinson Rodriguez knocked down two three-pointers on their first two possessions, and they jumped out to an early lead.

Pinkerton responded, and behind some big baskets from 2,000 point scorer Jackson Marshall, including a deep three, they took the lead right back. 

The Astros took the lead and extended it amidst a 14-0 run. They started this stretch down by a point, and before the crowd knew it, they exploded to a 23-10 lead. Nashua’s Jaden Pena got a layup inside to end the quarter, but Pinkerton controlled it, entering the second up 23-12.

North did not roll over trailing by double figures against the number one seed. In the second, they rallied and had an absolutely huge quarter.

The leader of this run was Pena, who recorded an electric 12 points in the quarter. The Titan guard had some smooth finishes at the rim, and he knocked down 5 free throws as well.

The big momentum shift was the defense the Titans played on Marshall. They held the state’s leading scorer to just 2 points in the second quarter, which allowed them to storm back into the game. 

Nashua chipped away early in the quarter and crawled back a little, but they gained tons of momentum in the latter half of the period. They won the back half of the quarter 15-5, which turned a 5 point deficit into a 5 point lead. 

The max capacity crowd went ballistic in the final minute because of the play from Alize Roig Cortez. Down by one, the Titan guard knocked down a shot from way beyond the arc to take the lead. Following that, he hit a buzzer beater three-pointer to give North a 43-38 lead entering the break. 

Early in the third quarter, it looked like Nashua could start to extend their lead further. After allowing a few quick baskets, they came out with a 7-0 run, forcing a Pinkerton timeout. Pena sparked the streak with a floater and a three-pointer.

Whatever Mike Dunham said to his team in that timeout, it worked wonders for them. They responded immediately with a 7-0 run, which forced a Nashua timeout. 

The Titans’ timeout did not have the same effect that the Pinkerton one earlier in the quarter did. Pinkerton came out of this timeout and went on a 9-2 run, which took the lead for the Astros. 

Following the big runs, it was back and forth the rest of the way, and Pinkerton held on for a 67-61 lead entering the final quarter. Marshall was huge in the third, scoring 10 points for them. Pena led the way for Nashua North, with a 12 point quarter of his own. 

The Astros stayed poised in the fourth and were able to extend their lead even further. They quickly were able to extend their lead to double digits behind some big three-pointers from Charlie Ludden and James Wallace. 

Once they got the lead into double figures, they were able to stay comfortably in advantage. The Titans tried battling back, but their outside shots were not falling, and they just ran out of time.

A Jackson Marshall dunk put the exclamation point on a 90-76 championship victory, which was the highest scoring final in Division I history. 

Charlie Ludden was a big contributor for the Astros on both ends of the court. He scored 18 points in the game, with 10 coming in the fourth quarter. Defensively, he had a game-high four blocks and shut down Parth Miglani, the Titans’ leading scorer on the season.

Andrew Brander was also huge for the Astros, scoring 26 points on an efficient 11-16 from the field. He filled up the stat sheet elsewhere, recording 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal and a block as well.

Leading Pinkerton, like he has all season, was Jackson Marshall. He recently eclipsed the 2,000 point threshold, something only one other player, Matt Bonner, has done in the state’s top division. Today, he put together an impressive 31 points and 16 rebounds en route to their victory.

Nashua North was led by a special performance from Jaden Pena. Despite the loss, the senior put on a show, scoring 30 points, a game high. The point guard also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 4 assists as well. 

Forward Robinson Rodriguez put together a great performance of his own for the Titans. Battling against Marshall on the low post, he scored 22 points, including 3 three-pointers, and grabbed 6 rebounds. 

Nashua North came up short in their first championship appearance since the school was opened. They started 4-4 and proceeded to go on a 10 game win streak to finish 14-4 and earned the third seed. They upset Bedford in the semi-finals, who was the second seed in the division.

After two straight title game appearances, Pinkerton will look to head back for a third season in a row. Despite losing a 2,000 point scorer in Jackson Marshall, they have a young core that will look to bring them success once again next season.

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Back-to-back! Pelham captures 2nd-straight crown

By Nathaniel Ford

DURHAM – The Pelham Pythons took down the Hanover Bears 51-41 to win back-back Division II championships. 

After defeating Pembroke in the final last season, they finished as the one seed with a 17-1 record this season. Their history on the big stage proved to be vital in their run this season.

Pelham was hot right out of the gate. The defending champions were poised and in control, scoring 6 quick unanswered points. 

However, Hanover’s youth did not prove to be an issue. They stayed calm and responded with a 9-0 run of their own, taking the lead right back.

Defense was a huge part of their first quarter, holding Pelham to just 2 points after their fast start. Hanover forced steals, deflected passes, and allowed nothing easy from the Pythons. This carried them to an 11-8 lead entering the second quarter.

The Bears picked up right where they left off entering the second. Sophomore Ryan McLaughlin got a basket early, and following that hit a triple from way beyond the arc, helping Hanover extend their lead to 7 points. 

Pelham responded when they needed to the most, ending the quarter on a 13-2 run through the latter part of it. A big part of this was foul trouble on the Bears’ side.

Hanover attempted just three on the half, and they converted on none. Pelham, on the other hand, shot 12-18 from the line, a result of 12 team fouls on the Bears.

A majority of the Pythons’ scoring output came from these free-throws, which is what helped them take their first lead since early in the first quarter. Going into the half, they led 24-20.

McLaughlin took over in the third quarter, grabbing rebounds, making defensive plays, and being a key offensive contributor. He had two huge baskets going to the hoop and dumped off a phenomenal pass to Jaysel Oriol for an easy layup. 

Hanover closed the third quarter on a 9-0 run to retake the lead 34-32 entering the fourth. Pelham was held scoreless for minutes behind superb defense, highlighted by a huge block from Roy Lucas. 

Despite their exceptional play, Hanover was only able to enter with a four point lead going into the final frame. Pelham hung around and made some big baskets early in the quarter to keep the game close. 

In the fourth quarter, experience prevailed for the Pythons. They put the clamps down on Hanover, holding them to zero field goals until 2 seconds remained in the game.

The Pythons entered the final frame trailing, but they made big plays when they needed to the most. They play nearly all seniors, all of whom played at UNH last year in the championship.

Point guard Dom Herrling came up absolutely huge when it mattered the most. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including an and-one finish with under two minutes to play to extend the Pelham lead to 6. 

Connor Travis showed how big a part of this team he is. While he does not average double figures, he makes winning plays that don’t show up in the box score. In the fourth, he took two charges with less than three minutes left, and a total of four on the game.

Peter Hemmerdinger, who was the lead contributor in overtime against Coe-Brown in the semifinals, had two huge layups in the fourth quarter. 

Zach James, a 20 ppg scorer, struggled from the field, but he made a huge impact and freed up his teammates despite scoring single figures.

When it was all said and done, Pelham held Hanover to just 7 points in the fourth quarter and were able to come away with a 51-41 victory to repeat as Division II champions. 

Senior Jakub Fredette encapsulated the feelings in Pelham best. He subbed in late in the game, and he was smiling the whole time he was out there. The final buzzer sounded, and he was as excited as anyone on the team.

Pelham was led by Dom Herrling, who put together an incredible statline of 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals. 

Their scoring output was very balanced as a team. Adrian Villanueva and Peter Hemmerdinger each recorded 8 points, while Logan Dumont and Zach James each scored 7 of their own.

Hanover was led by sophomore standout Ryan McLaughlin, who scored a game-high 17 points. Jaysen Oriol chipped in with 8 points and Roy Lucas with 7. 

While they fell short today, the Bears had an incredible year under coach Ben Davis. Just last season, they started the year 0-12 before winning five of their last six games. 

This year, they completely flipped the script, finishing 17-1 and earning the number two seed in the division and were able to do this with an extremely young team. They graduate just three seniors, and four starters return.

Pelham, on the other hand, had immense experience on their squad. They graduate seven seniors, all of whom played in today’s game. With eight players returning and one of the best JV teams in the state, they will look to retool and compete for a third championship next year. 

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Three-Peat! Concord Christian wins third-straight title

By Nathaniel Ford

DURHAM – The Concord Christian Kingsmen defeated the Pembroke Spartans 65-53 in the Division II Girls Championship at UNH.

The school of just 106 students won the Division IV title in 2022, the Division III title in 2023, and has now taken home the Division II title as well.

Lilli Carlisle, a junior for the Kingsmen, had a historic game. She finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds, both of which were game highs. She broke the individual scoring record in a Division II girls final, breaking the prior mark of 27 points set by Lebanon’s Jane Daigle in 1982. 

Concord Christian started off hot, jumping to an early 8-2 run behind 6 points from Carlisle. It looked like the Kingsmen could run away early, but Pembroke did not roll over. 

Kaitlin Arenella made a huge three to bring the game to three points. After some back-and-forth play, Pembroke ended the quarter on a 6-0 run. Behind a coast-to-coast layup from freshman Anne Phillips, the Spartans entered the second quarter leading 13-12.

The second quarter was a battle as well. Pembroke opened the quarter on a 7-2 run, which was driven by Arenella, who knocked down a deep three and got a finish inside. This extended the Spartan lead to six. 

The Kingsmen did not roll over, and they responded quickly with a huge run of their own. Sophomore Emma Smith powered this. She connected from beyond the arc and had an and-one finish inside. 

They quickly overcame the 6-point deficit, and in the blink of an eye, the Kingsmen were back in the lead. This game was shaping up to be a battle, and going into the second half, Concord Christian led 29-26.

Pembroke shot 0/7 from the free-throw line in the first half, which was a big contribution to their 3 point deficit entering the second half. 

Carlisle and Smith were carrying the Kingsmen offensively, scoring 27 of their 29 first half points. The team was dominated on the glass, out-rebounding Pembroke 21-12. 

The third quarter was nothing short of unbelievable. The game was absolutely blown open in favor of the Kingsmen. They opened on a quick 9-0 run to extend the lead to 12 points, and they never looked back.

Everyone on the team was contributing. Kayden Rioux knocked down a three, Taylor Rioux got a layup in transition, Kate Smith had a pair of baskets, and Emma Smith and Lilli Carlisle piled on points of their own.

They dominated the quarter and started to run away with it. Capitalizing on 7 turnovers from the Spartans, they won the period by 15 points and entered the fourth quarter with a 51-33 lead.  

Pembroke needed a historic comeback, and it was not in the cards today. They did not roll over, but the deficit was too large, with the Kingsmen leading by as many as 22 points in the final frame.

They made big three pointers late and got the lead to single digits, but Concord Christian stayed composed and knocked down free throws when they needed them. They closed out the game with a 65-53 victory. 

Fast break points and baskets in the paint were two of the biggest turning points in their win. They outscored Pembroke 18-4 in transition, and scored a whopping 48 points in the paint, as well as 14 second chance points. 

Another huge reason for their victory was the defense played on Pembroke’s Annelise Dexter, the leading scorer in the division. She averaged 24.9 points a game in the regular season, and she was held to just 4 points tonight. 

Concord Christian was led by two players, Emma Smith and Lilli Carlile, combining for 52 points. Smith had an extremely efficient 23 points on 9/13 shooting, and she added 9 rebounds as well. 

Carlile had 29 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, putting together one of the most impressive individual performances in a Division II final. 

Pembroke was led by a trio of double digit scorers. Kaitlin Arenella led the way with 14 points and connected on 4 three pointers. Anne Phillips and Kate Stephens both added 12 points of their own. 

While they came up short in the championship, Pembroke had a stellar season this year. They went 15-3 on the season, finishing as the third seed and upsetting Laconia to make it to the title game, which was their first appearance since the 1995 season.

Winning the title caps off the Kingsmen’s dominant 17-1 regular season. Their roster of only eight girls is looking to move up to Division I next season. With only one senior on the squad, another championship may be on the horizon in 2025.

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SNHU captures NE10 crown,earns automatic NCAA bid

MANCHESTER – For just the third time in program history, Southern New Hampshire has been crowned Northeast-10 Conference champions as the No. 5 Penmen defeated No. 6 Southern Connecticut State, 75-60, on Saturday afternoon at the Stan Spirou Field House.

With the win, SNHU earns the league’s automatic bid to the Division II NCAA tournament. The Penmen will learn their seed and match-up at the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday at 11:00 pm.

SNHU used a 15-4 run in the first half and 15-4 run to start the second half to propel the Penmen to the victory.

Preston Santos paced the Penmen with 20 points, while Kurtis Henderson (16), Matt Becht (15) and Derrick Grant Jr. (13) also netted double-digits.

Becht was named the 2024 NE10 Championship Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the NE10 All-Championship Team by Santos.

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UNH advances to semis with win over Binghamton

DURHAM – The No. 4 UNH Wildcats defeated No. 5 Binghamton, 77-64, in quarterfinal round action of the America East Playoffs on Saturday afternoon at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats advance to the semifinal round and will hit the road to take on No. 1 Vermont on Tuesday at 5:00 PM.

UNH trailed the Bearcats by two at the half, 34-32, but the Wildcats used a 12-2 run near the beginning of the second half to to take a 46-40 lead and never look back.

America East Player of the Year Clarence Daniels led all scorers with a game-high 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Wildcats. Trey Woodyard (17 points), Ahmad Robinson (12), Naim Miller (11) and Jaxson Baker (10) all netted double-digits as well for first-year head coach Nate Davis’ squad.

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Third quarter propels Pinkerton to title game

Top-seeded Pinkerton used a 26 point third-quarter to defeat No. 5 Trinity, 82-71, in semifinal round action of the NHIAA Division I Boys Basketball State Tournament on Wednesday night at Exeter High School.

The Astros advance to the title game and will face No. 3 Nashua North on Sunday at UNH. The game time is still to be determined.

Pinkerton’s Jackson Marshall was held to 13 points in the first half, but unloaded with 26 in the second half to lead all scorers with 39 points. Andrew Brander (22 points) and Charles Ludden (15) both netted double-digits for the Astros as well.

The Pioneers were paced by 22 points from Shawn O’Neil and 17 from Devohn Ellis.

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Pembroke upsets Laconia, moves on to title game

No. 3 Pembroke held No. 2 Laconia to just 10 first-half points en route to a 44-35 victory in semifinal round action of the NHIAA Division II Girls Basketball State Tournament on Wednesday night at Salem High School

The Spartans advance to the title game where they will take on top-seeded Concord Christian on Sunday at UNH. The game time is still to be determined.

Pembroke poured in 18 points in the opening quarter to take a commanding 18-6 lead and the Spartans never looked back.

Annelise Dexter (14 points) and Anne Phillips (11) led Pembroke, while Laconia was paced by a game-high 27 points from Macy Swormstedt. The Sachems were without Mekhia Burton.

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North knocks off Bedford, advances to title game

Third-seeded Nashua North upset No. 2 Bedford, 84-68, in the semifinal round of the NHIAA Division I Boys Basketball State Tournament on Wednesday night at Exeter High School.

With the win, the Titans advance to the title game where they will take on No. 1 Pinkerton on Sunday at UNH. The game time is still to be determined.

North jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead in a fast-paced first quarter before Bedford rallied to take a one-point lead, 21-20, after one. The Titans kept the pedal to the metal in the 2nd quarter with 20 points again, while holding the Bulldogs to 12 points. North led 40-33 at the break.

The second-half was once again a frantic pace. The Titans balanced offense outscored Bedford, 25-20 in the quarter. North closed things out in the 4th to come away with the convincing 16-point win.

A quartet of Titans netted double-digits: Robinson Rodriguez (26 points), Parth Miglani (24), Jaden Pena (18) and Luke Peters (10).

The Bulldogs struggled to put the ball in the basket all night, but were led by 14 points apiece from Niko Badoian and Austin Kasyjanski. Leading scorer Luke Soden (26 PPG) managed just 13 points for Bedford.

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Pinkerton tops Londonderry, advances to final

Behind a combined 47 points from Sydney Gerossie (25) and Kaylee Dupuis (22), No. 2 Pinkerton defeated No. 3 Londonderry, 78-54, in semifinal action of the NHIAA Division I Girls Basketball State Tournament on Tuesday night at Exeter High School.

The Astros advance to the title game to take on No. 1 Bedford on Saturday at UNH. The game time is still to be determined.

Pinkerton jumped out to a 22-13 lead after the 1st quarter and took a 32-26 lead to halftime. They pushed their lead to 12 after the 3rd quarter, 53-41 and poured it on in the final frame to roll to the 24-point lead.

Sammie Sullivan pumped in a game-high 26 points to lead Londonderry, while Kate Sloper added 11.

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