Boston High School: Pembroke Academy (N.H.)

With move up, Pembroke (N.H.) coming under fire

April, 17, 2014
4/17/14
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In what some are calling an attempt to have Matt Alosa removed as Pembroke Academy’s boys basketball coach, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division I athletic directors and principals are not including Pembroke on next season’s Division I schedule.

Alosa has guided Pembroke to the last two Division II championships, but Pembroke successfully petitioned to move from Division II to Division I starting with the 2014-15 season. A group of Division I athletic directors met with Pembroke officials last month, and explained that the decision to not include Pembroke on the schedule stemmed from concerns about players transferring to Pembroke and recruiting allegations that have been directed at Alosa and the Pembroke program.

Last December the NHIAA ruled that two Pembroke players were ineligible because of “residency issues.” Both players transferred to Pembroke after the 2012-13 school year, and both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa (Matt’s father).

“In my opinion it comes down to our coach, the coach’s father, the Granite State Raiders and the people who think they’re funneling players to our program,” Pembroke headmaster Mike Reardon said. “In the meeting (last month) I said, ‘Let me ask you. Given our situation what would you do?’ I had an AD tell me: ‘You need to fire Matt Alosa.’

“Matt is not only an outstanding basketball coach, Matt has conducted himself in exemplary fashion. Could something be going on that I’m not aware of? Absolutely. But we don’t have that information. We never have. If I had anything to act on I would act on it instantaneously.”

Alosa was a standout player at Pembroke who later played at Providence College and the University of New Hampshire. He became Pembroke’s coach in 2006, and has guided the Spartans to a 49-1 record during the past two seasons.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Matt Alosa said. “I haven’t recruited anybody. I’ve done nothing but my best to help the kids of Pembroke.

“We had two players suspended and they paid their penalty. We were allowed to petition to Division I. I don’t understand how we can have an elite program and not be allowed to play (in Division I)? Because of a few false allegations? It’s unjust stuff.

“This is unprecedented, but I can tell you Pembroke isn’t going to cancel the basketball season.”

According to Pinkerton Academy athletic director Tim Powers, Pembroke was told it would be allowed to compete in Division I next season if it presented a plan that would prevent players from transferring to Pembroke for primarily basketball reasons. Pembroke came up with a plan, but the Division I athletic directors and principals deemed it unsatisfactory.

“They submitted a plan, but we still had concerns and told them we were going to move forward with the schedule without them,” Powers said. “I don’t know what their next step will be. We just want to make sure we all abide by the same rules.”

Both Powers and Reardon said a return to Division II is not an option for Pembroke. The Spartans could play out-of-state opponents, but to be eligible to compete for an NHIAA championship a team must play at least 50 percent of its games against New Hampshire opponents.

“I think the concerns are that Matt Alosa is the coach,” Reardon said. “If he’s gone we’ll probably get a (Division I) schedule. If he stays, no schedule.

“I’m not going to terminate someone’s employment based on innuendo and rumor.”

Trinity, Central ready for Sunday matinee clash

January, 18, 2014
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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.

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Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

Shrine Bowl: NH shuts out Vermont for 13th straight

August, 3, 2013
8/03/13
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HANOVER, N.H. -– Vermont may have run a prettier offense Saturday night, but New Hampshire's Double-Wing was much more effective.
New Hampshire outgained Vermont 460-162 and rolled to a 43-0 triumph in the 60th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl at Dartmouth's Memorial Field.

It was the 13th consecutive victory for New Hampshire, which has a 45-13-2 lead in the series.

Trinity running back Romeo Masuku ran for a game-high 113 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Goffstown quarterback Connor Benjamin tossed a 55-yard TD pass to Laconia tight end Graham Nyhan –- New Hampshire's only pass completion in the game –- and also ran for a 36-yard TD.

New Hampshire operated out of a Wildcat formation for much of the second half, when it scored 28 of its 43 points.

“We wanted to save that for the second half so they couldn't prepare for it at halftime,” New Hampshire coach Ray Kershaw said. “The Double-Wing is designed to wear teams down in the second half, and that's what happened. That's what my offensive linemen were telling me.”

New Hampshire also received a 9-yard TD run from Concord's Tolbert Nemo, a 1-yard TD run from Exeter's Tyler Grant and a 42-yard field goal from Souhegan's Tyler Ford. Ford also made four point-after kicks.

Vermont's no-huddle spread offense was limited to 40 yards rushing on 22 carries, and 13 completions in 34 pass attempts. Vermont committed six turnovers, five of which were interceptions.

“We just make too many mistakes,” Vermont coach Jason Thomas said. “We had our chances – I really believe that – I just don't think we executed very well.”

New Hampshire led 6-0 after one quarter, 15-0 at halftime and 29-0 entering the fourth.

Vermont has lost 23 of the last 25 games.

LINE DANCING
New Hampshire's defensive line, which featured University of New Hampshire-bound tackle Ricky Holt, recorded four sacks.
“We had one of the most dominant defensive lines you could have put together in our state,” Holt said. “We did a really good job of getting after the quarterback.”

New Hampshire's defensive line included Exeter defensive end Zach Bosen, Pembroke Academy defensive tackle Chris Ford and Stevens defensive end C.J. Gosselin.

“We knew they'd be really good up front, and when they're really good up front it makes it challenging,” Thomas said. “Their defensive line was outstanding putting pressure on our quarterbacks all day. Made it difficult for them to throw it to the open guy.”

It was the first time Vermont was shut out since 2008, when New Hampshire posted a 42-0 victory.

“They did throw us off our game a little bit,” Vermont quarterback Jake Stalcup (Burr & Burton) said. “It's tough to make a full-field read when there are guys coming at you.”

EXTRA POINTS
Ford's 42-yard field goal came as time expired at the end of the first half, and is the longest field goal in the game's history. Spaulding's Scott Sanborn held the previous record. Sanborn made a 41-yard field goal in 1982. ... New Hampshire attempted six passes. ... Woodstock's Ed Doton was Vermont's leading rusher with 38 yards on six carries. ... Vermont's Chris Redding (Burr and Burton) caught five passes for 53 yards. ... Logan Batchelder (Stevens) had two of New Hampshire's five interceptions. ... It was the first time the game has been played at night.

Portsmouth (N.H.) sets national record for wins

May, 19, 2011
5/19/11
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PEMBROKE, N.H. –- Tim Hopley had a message for his Portsmouth High School baseball team Thursday, and he waited until the seventh inning to deliver it.

With the Clippers three outs away from breaking the national record for consecutive victories, Hopley gathered the Portsmouth players in front of the visitors’ dugout and made sure he had everyone’s attention.

“I told them there’s something like 17,421 high school teams that play baseball in the [United States] and they were three outs away from doing something none of those teams had ever accomplished,” Hopley said following Portsmouth’s 10-2 triumph over Pembroke Academy. “If that didn’t get them excited, if it didn’t get them focused and paying attention to what we were standing of the doorstep of, well, that was the best I could come up with.”

Portsmouth’s victory stretched the program’s winning streak to 76 games, one more than Homer (Mich.) High School won in 2004 and 2005. That 2005 Homer team featured pitcher Josh Collmenter, who made his major league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this season.

“Records are made to be broken,” Homer coach Scott Salow said. “There are no hard feelings. I’m sure they’ll do a good job carrying the torch. This has put Homer baseball back on the front page.”

Several Portsmouth players said they were relieved the record had been broken, but they insisted the team’s No. 1 goal is winning a fourth consecutive state championship.

“It’s definitely, definitely relief,” Portsmouth pitcher/outfielder Keegan Taylor said. “It’s always nice to have something off your back, but to me we’re not done. It’s more than just this. Definitely not satisfied yet. We want to be the last team standing.”

Pitcher Ricky Holt and catcher Connor McCauley are the Portsmouth players who made the biggest contribution to Thursday’s win. Holt, a sophomore, pitched a complete game and held Pembroke to five hits. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.

“Really happy and excited that we got that record,” Holt said. “Now we can start getting ready for the playoffs. We still have to get better every game and get to our main goal, which is to bring another championship back to Portsmouth.”

McCauley collected four hits, drove in three runs and stole three bases.

“Definitely my best hitting game of the season,” McCauley said. “It’s weird thinking we own a national record. Right now it feels pretty good, but after this weekend we’re gonna start thinking about winning another championship. There’s relief, but we still have work to do.”

McCauley and Taylor are among the five players on this year’s Portsmouth team who also played for the Portsmouth team that reached the 2006 Little League World Series. Shortstop Billy Hartmann, third baseman Matt Feeney and catcher/designated hitter Conor Trefethen are the others.

Feeney, Trefethen and second baseman Matt Main each had two hits for the Clippers, who raised their Division II record to 13-0. The loss dropped Pembroke’s record to 7-6.

Portsmouth did most of its damage in the second inning, when it sent nine batters to the plate and took a 5-0 lead. The big blow in the inning was Main’s two-run double.

Main made it 6-0 when he scored on a wild pitch in the top of the fourth, but Pembroke answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Matt Gosselin and Zac Gauss each scored on Pat Flanagan’s two-run single.

The Clippers padded their lead by adding three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. McCauley’s two-run single highlighted the three-run fifth.

Pembroke’s Shane St. Onge pitched five innings in relief of starter Patrick Jarvis. Each pitcher surrendered five runs.

“Every day the focus was simply just getting better,” Hopley said. “If we continue to get better, we’re gonna continue to play good baseball. If we get complacent and we stop trying to get better, it’s gonna end in the snap of a finger. It’s the nature of the beast in high school baseball.”

Hopley shouldn’t have a problem getting his team refocused for its next game. Portsmouth will play at rival St. Thomas on Monday. Portsmouth overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat St. Thomas 4-3 earlier this season.

“They know what’s coming,” Hopley said. “They know there’s not a team in New Hampshire that wants to beat them more than what’s in front of us on Monday.

“My job will be to remind them that it’s 76, and why can’t it be 77? Why can’t it be a bigger number?”

Shortstop Mike Fransoso (Maine), outfielder Mike Montville (Maryland), pitcher Ben Hart (UMass), and pitcher Nate Jones (Wake Forest) are former Portsmouth players who contributed to the streak and are now playing Division I college baseball.

Two players on this year’s team –- Taylor and centerfielder Aidan O’Leary –- have committed to play Division I baseball next season. Taylor is headed to Northeastern, and O’Leary will play for Manhattan. Taylor is 6-0 this season and 20-0 in his varsity career.

Portsmouth’s last loss came against Hollis-Brookline in the semifinals of the 2007 Class I tournament.

The Clippers used to make headlines for a different reason. Portsmouth was coming off an 0-18 season when Hopley became head coach in 1996. The program’s losing streak reached 30 games before Hopley collected his first victory as a varsity head coach.

“[Back then] I would literally wake up and pray it was raining that day because it meant we weren’t going to lose,” he said.

Hopley played for the Portsmouth team that won a state championship in 1988. The Clippers also qualified for postseason play in 1989, but didn’t play another postseason game until 2004.

“There’s been 42 guys who put this uniform on during the course of this streak,” Hopley said. “The fact that it’s stretched out over four different teams speaks volumes about those 42 guys because every single one of them has done one thing or another to help us be successful.

“These guys finished what was started by the guys before them. It’s a pretty cool thing.”

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