For New Hampshire sports fans, it’ll serve as an appetizer before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
Manchester Central and Trinity of Manchester, widely considered to be the two best high school boys basketball teams the Granite State has to offer, will clash Sunday (1 p.m.) at Trinity’s McHugh Gym. Each team is 5-0, and the winner will have sole possession of first place in the Division I standings.
“It’s nice to be 5-0, but we have a lot of work to do,” said Trinity coach Dave Keefe, who guided the Pioneers to last year’s Division I championship. “We’re still a work in progress.
“I know a lot of people are saying it’s going to be a Central-Trinity final, but I don’t prepare my kids like that. Our goal is to finish in the top four. Central has five kids who can hurt you, not one, two or three like most teams.”
The regular-season matchup between Trinity and Central was originally scheduled for Dec. 17, but the contest was postponed by bad weather. The game began the following night, but was suspended because moisture on the floor at Trinity made playing conditions unsafe.
The game will resume today with the score tied, 13-13, and 2:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Trinity has a clear size advantage. Central will have to contend with Wenyin Gabriel, a 6-foot-7 center; and Carmen Giampetruzzi, a 6-foot-4 forward. Giampetruzzi is headed to Boston College to play baseball.
“Their size is absolutely a concern,” Central coach Doc Wheeler said. “We’re physically smaller than our opponents in most of our games. Slowing down Carmen will be a big deal.
“We share the ball real well and we work real hard, but to be honest we have a lot of things to clean up. That (tournament) game showed both teams what we have to work on. We both have an idea how to do it better.”
The teams also met in the semifinals of the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament in December. Central received a career-high 38 points from junior guard Brett Hanson and posted a 66-55 victory that night, but the non-league game does not count in the Division I standings.
Keefe called today’s matchup between city rivals the kind of game the players will be talking about when they grow old.
“These are special games,” he said. “It should be fun for the kids.”
COURT CONTROVERSY: Pembroke Academy is appealing the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s ruling that made two of the school’s boys basketball players ineligible for the 2013-14 season.
Rob Wilson, a 6-foot-7 junior, and Adam Presutti, a 6-foot-8 senior, both transferred to Pembroke before the start of the current school year and were practicing with the team until the NHIAA announced its decision in December. The ruling came before Pembroke’s first game.
Wilson played at Londonderry High School last season, and Presutti spent last season at Merrimack Valley in Penacook.
Pat Corbin, the NHIAA’s executive director, said each player violated the NHIAA by-laws regarding transfers.
The NHIAA handbook states that students are not allowed to transfer schools for primarily athletic purposes. If it is deemed that a player does transfer for athletic purposes, the player will be ineligible for 365 days.
“In my judgement there were other issues that did not make either of these an appropriate move,” Corbin said. “I can’t get into specifics because there are now attorneys representing both young men.”
Corbin’s ruling was upheld by an NHIAA eligibility committee, a group that includes principals, athletic directors and coaches from high schools throughout New Hampshire.
“The final level of due process is our appeals board,” Corbin explained. “We’re trying to put something together for next week.”
The controversy stems from the fact that Wilson and Presutti both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa. Former Providence College and University of New Hampshire guard Matt Alosa, Frank’s son, is Pembroke’s head coach, and an assistant coach with the Granite State Raiders. Both have heard accusations that they steer their AAU players to Pembroke, but have denied the accusations.
“My dad does coach the older kids in the (AAU) program and I’m in the gym when I can get there to help out,” Matt Alosa said. “It’s not our practice to get kids to move. Whether it’s high school or AAU, I’m here to help the kids get better.”
According to Pembroke Academy headmaster Mike Reardon, both Wilson and Presutti live in the Pembroke Academy school district.
“We’re a school, not an investigative unit, but our process convinced us that both boys are here legitimately,” Reardon said. “They’re not here (just) to play basketball, although basketball is part of their identity.
“Obviously we’re hoping both boys can play this year. That’s why we’re doing this.”
BREAKING BAD: The Timberlane of Plaistow boys basketball program had its losing streak reach 70 games with Friday night’s 58-39 loss to Manchester West.
The West program had lost 22 of its previous 23 Division I games. Its only victory during that span came against Timberlane.
Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.