Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bridgton Downs Rival Brewster in NEPSAC Showdown

Bridgton Academy traveled over to NEPSAC Rival Brewster on Wednesday for a battle between two of the top teams in the country. Having had their game scheduled earlier in the season at Bridgton cancelled, this would be the only time the two teams will meet during the regular season with potential tournament implications on the line.

Brewster came out on fire knocking down a number of 3's in the opening minutes of the game and appeared to be putting the Wolverines in a hole that might just be too deep to get out of. Bridgton however hung tough and battled back, slowly closing in on Brewster's lead before taking a lead of their own thanks to a big run at the end of first half which gave them a 36-34 lead going into the break.

The game remained close throughout the second half as Brewster continued to dial in from long distance, but Dwayne Smith (Toronto, ON) had the hottest hand of the night connecting on six 3-pointers en route to a game high 32 points (18 in the second half). As outstanding as Smith was, he couldn't hold off Brewster's come back bid alone as some strong team defense and timely offense from teammate Carl Blair (Katy, TX) kept the Wolverines on top as they picked up a big road win 85-82.

Smith had a career high 32 points, followed by Blair's 24 points to lead the Wolverines in scoring.

After the game head coach Whit Lesure noted that, "The key for us was getting to halftime with the lead. I'm proud of the effort, poise, and toughness our guys showed in the last 24 hours."

The Wolverines have had a number of games this season that have fallen on back-to-back nights, sometimes even three days in a row. During such stretches it's important for teams to continue executing their brand of basketball and have key players step up in crucial moments, something Bridgton was able to do tonight. "Guys like (Carl) Blair and (Dwayne) Smith played the way we need them to, and the team offense and defense is starting to come together. We'll enjoy this one, but we know tomorrow we have to get back to work and prepare for Winchendon" said Lesure.

With the win Bridgton now stands at 21-9 (8-4 in NEPSAC play) with one regular season game remaining at Winchendon School scheduled for Saturday at 2 PM.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bridgton Falls to St. Thomas More

Bridgton Academy dropped to 20-9 on the season Tuesday afternoon as St. Thomas More School came into the Wolverdome and handed the Wolverines just their second home loss of the season.

St. Thomas More came out strong as Bridgton found themselves down two possessions for most of the game. Neither team was able to establish any kind of convincing lead though STM took a 33-31 lead into halftime.

The second half was much like the first as the Wolverines continued to trail by a couple of possessions throughout the half. Bridgton was able to tie the game up on a couple of occasions but failed to make any kind of decisive run to take control of a lead as St. Thomas More was able to hang on for a 72-68 win.

Dwayne Smith (Toronto, ON) led the Wolverines with 15 points while Jamal Crook (Louisville, KY) added 13.

After the game Bridgton Head Coach Whit Lesure said, "I think the better team won today. We'll just have to see now if we can put this loss to good use."

The Wolverines have two game remaining on their schedule before tournament play begins, with the first coming Wednesday afternoon as they travel to Brewster Academy for a 4:30 PM game.

Saturday, February 21, 2009



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wolverines Take Down Phillips Exeter

Bridgton Academy made the short drive over to Exeter, NH last night to face off with Phillips Exeter Academy in a NEPSAC showdown. The Wolverines got off to a very strong start, building a double digit lead in the opening minutes. As the first half progressed Bridgton was able to hold off any Phillips Exeter attempt at a run protecting their double digit lead while taking a 33-20 lead into half time.

The Wolverines were able to pick up right where they left off to start the second half as they combined some big defensive stops with some timely made shots stretching their lead to as many as 20 points. It was only a matter of time before some of Phillips Exeter's long balls began to fall. While the Wolverines had done a terrific job holding Phillips Exeter's shooters in check throughout the game, they were able to string together a few big possessions and suddenly had trimmed the lead down to 9 in the closing minutes. Coming out of a timeout Bridgton's Bryant Avent (Phoenix, AZ) knocked down a big "3" that slammed the door shut on any sort of come back attempt from there as the Wolverines held on for a 59-49 win.

Dwayne Smith (Toronto, ON) led Bridgton with 16 points, followed by Malik Stith (Long Island, NY) with 12, while Justin Rake (Mandeville, LA) added 10.

After the game Wolverines Head Coach Whit Lesure seemed satisfied with his team's performance saying, "I was generally pleased with our overall effort and execution. It was a good team win. Dwayne (Smith) got us going in the first half, and it was good to have (Justin) Rake back out there too. Garrison (Gross) and Bryant (Avent) contributed significantly in the second half."

"Also wanted to give a special Thanks to Kevin Jones (Trustee) and his daughter for their support and spirit at the game tonight." added Lesure.

When asked about what he thought his team could learn from the game Lesure responded, "We've got to improve our nose for the ball, but giving up 49 points ain't too bad either. We'll build on the positives, and work harder on our weaknesses."

With the win Bridgton's record now stands at 20-8, 7-3 in NEPSAC play. They will return to action this Saturday when they play host to Ste. Foye, the two teams met earlier this season in Quebec City, Canada where the Wolverines won 87-66.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nice Article on Former Wolverine Cheick Diakite Class of '05

The Roanoke Times recently did a very nice article on former Wolverine Cheick Diakite and his journey from West Africa to Maine to Virginia Tech. Diakite has had a terrific career at Virginia Tech where he is currently in his senior season, during a recent game at Boston College he had the chance to catch up with some familiar faces from his time at BA (see photos below!)

To read the entire article click here

Left to Right: Tyler Bullock '05, Cheick Diakite '05, Ben Summerhayes '05, and Tripp Baker '05

Left to Right: Former Bridgton Academy Librarian Linda Kautz, Cheick Diakite '05, and current members of Bridgton Academy Bob and Milagros Katz.

Latest NERR National Prep Poll Announced

New England Recruiting Report (NERR) released their latest National Prep Poll on Tuesday, the Bridgton Academy Wolverines have hung onto their #4 ranking they had found themselves in the last poll, however, this time they have some company.

Following Patterson School (NC) at #1, Hargrave Military Academy (VA) at #2, and Notre Dame Prep (MA) at #3, the Wolverines are now joined by Brewster Academy and South Kent School in a 3-way tie for 4th.

NEPSAC Class A Winchendon School comes in at #7 followed by NEPSAC Class B powerhouse Tilton School at #8. Charis Prep (NC) makes their first appearance on the poll coming in at #9 following their upset win over #1 Patterson, and NEPSAC Class A Northfield Mount Hermon rounds things out at #10.

Class A of the NEPSAC is very well represented with 5 teams ranked in the top 10 and an additional 2 teams (New Hampton & St. Thomas More) having received at least 1 vote.

Bridgton Head Coach Whit Lesure's response to the latest poll, " I think most observers are aware of the competitive balance that exists in our league and the poll reflects this strength. Class A NEPSAC teams have also fared reasonably well outside of our conference across the nation and against some highly regarded Class B and Class C powerhouse programs".

The Wolverines will look to hang around in at least the top 8 when the final poll is released around seasons end in hopes of qualifying for the National Tournament which will be held Monday, March 9th and Tuesday, March 10th at Endicott College in Beverly, MA.

For the official poll check out New England Recruiting Report- National Prep Poll

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bridgton Falls to South Kent

The Bridgton Academy Wolverines made the long trip to western Connecticut on Sunday to square off with the red hot Cardinal of South Kent School. South Kent had won 11 of their last 12, including the last 8 in a row.

The first half saw South Kent jump out to an early lead and Bridgton was forced to try and play catch up throughout the first half, however they were unable to pull even as the Cardinal took a 33-27 lead into the break.

Bridgton came out a bit sluggish in the second half as the Cardinal were able to score 4 quick points stretching their lead to 10. The Wolverines however battled back and kept the game close with both teams exchanging some big baskets and crucial stops. Bridgton was even able to take a one point lead in the final minutes, however South Kent proved to be just a little too much for the Wolverines on this day as the Cardinal held on to win 63-59.

Dwayne Smith (Toronto, ON) led the Wolverines with 15 points, Jack Houpt (Chesterton, IN) followed with 10, while Malik Stith (Long Island, NY), Carl Blair (Katy, TX), and Jamal Crook (Louisville, KY) each added 9 points.

When asked for his thoughts after the game Bridgton Head Coach Whit Lesure had this to say, "We failed to convert a couple opportunities late that made a difference. I think we were more competitive today and hopefully our team will recognize the areas of improvement we can bring about."

With the loss Bridgton falls to 19-8 on the season, 6-3 in NEPSAC play, while South Kent School improves to 20-5, 7-3 in the NEPSAC. Lesure also made mention of South Kent's success this season saying, "Kevlin's (Jefferson) quickly done good things with his program. It was a lively basketball atmosphere for the fans and players."

The Wolverines will look to rebound after back to back losses when they travel to Phillips Exeter Academy Wednesday night for a NEPSAC showdown, tip off is scheduled for 4:00 PM. Lesure made note of Wednesdays big game and the remainder of the Wolverines schedule heading into tournament time saying, "We're in the middle of a tough road stretch, but still rank among the best teams in our league. We'll let it all shake out later on."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wolverines Fall to NEPSAC Foe New Hampton Prep

Bridgton Academy traveled over to New Hampshire Friday night for a matchup with NEPSAC rival New Hampton Prep. The Wolverines were able to build a slight lead in the first half however saw it slip away slowly and ultimately found themselves trailing at halftime, 37-36.

As the opening minutes of the second half got underway the Huskies of New Hampton were able to build up a similar lead to the one the Wolverines had in the first half. Malik Stith (Long Island, NY) again did his best to take the game over, keeping the Wolverines within striking distance throughout thanks to his 19 second half points, however New Hampton was able to make a few timely plays and protect their lead as they remained undefeated at home with a 79-75 victory.

Stith led the Wolverines with 24 points, Carl Blair (Katy, TX) followed with 12, while Jamal Crook (Louisville, KY) and Kauri Black (Rialto, CA) finished with 10 apiece.

When reached for comment after the game Wolverines Head Coach Whit Lesure said, "They got a lot more easy baskets then we did. There's probably a combination of reasons why, but none get the game back. We'll just have to do a better job Sunday."

The Wolverines will return to action this Sunday as they travel to South Kent for a 1:00 pm tip off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wolverines Take Down Pandas 76-65

Bridgton Academy traveled up to Lee Academy Tuesday night to take on the Pandas and were able to come away with a well earned 76-65 win.

The first half remained close throughout with neither team really able to separate themselves from the other. Justin Rake was able to keep the Wolverines close as he poured in 17 first half points, including five 3 point field goals, though it wasn't enough as Lee took a 35-34 lead into half time.

Bridgton started the second half with a run that gave them the lead once again and this time they never looked back. The Wolverines were able to force 16 second half turnovers (27 in the game) providing them with a number of easy baskets. Free throw shooting was also a key as the Wolverines were able to knock down 20-24 attemps in the second half, Malik Stith (Long Island, NY) was once again the offensive leader for the Wolverines when they needed it most scoring 20 of his game high 23 points in the second half, including making 16-17 from the free throw line.

Stith paced Bridgton with his 23 points, Carl Blair (Katy, TX) followed with 18 points, Justin Rake 17, and Jack Houpt (Chesterton, IN) once again turned in a solid all around game contributing 8 points.

When reached for comment after the game Head Coach Whit Lesure said, "I thought it was a really good team effort tonight. A lot of different guys stepped up. Rake (Justin) flat out kept us in it in the first half. Stith and Blair did a good job together in the 2nd."

He went on to note that, "The way we started the 2nd half was exceptional and then the game was in our favor. Our pressure free throws stopped them from coming back on us."

With the win the Wolverines improve to 19-6 on the season. They return to action Friday night when they travel to NEPSAC rival New Hampton school for a big conference game, tip off is scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wolverines Leave National Prep Invitational With One Win, One Loss

Bridgton Academy made the trip down to Kingston, RI and the campus of URI for the annual National Prep Invitational. This year they were matched up against two very formidable opponents and were able to leave the weekend with a split.

In the Wolverines first game of the weekend they squared off with NEPSAC powerhouse St. Mark's. A highly contested first half saw the two teams enter the break deadlocked at 29-29. It was clear both teams were working to their strengths as St. Marks got solid production out of their two bigs (Erik Murphy bound for Florida, and Nate Lubick committed to Georgetown), while Bridgton used their strong guard play (14 first half points from Malik Stith).

The second half saw the Wolverines make an early run and build a small lead which they spent the remainder of the half working to protect, and with some strong defensive and some timely scoring they were able to do just that in earning a 63-54 win.

Malik Stith led the Wolverines with a team high 19 points, Dwayne Smith followed with 17, while Jack Houpt continued his strong play of late reaching double figures with 10.

When asked for his thoughts after the game Head Coach Whit Lesure said, "It was a good non-league game for us against a nationally recognized team with some highly skilled players. We played the game at both ends as consistently as we have all year. I liked our level of activity around the basket...we had a good practice week."

He went on to note that, "The way we began the 2nd half was key for us. Our team confidence was good, and Stith played both ends like the best player on the court. I'm happy his hard work is showing up in games."

The Wolverines once again had little time to enjoy their victory as less then 24 hours later they would take the court once again, this time against Nationally ranked #1 Patterson School.

The opening minutes of the game showed in person what most people might assume from seeing the two teams matched up on paper, Patterson's size in the paint is likely to give the Wolverines some serious trouble.

Bridgton found themselves down by as many as 18 early in the first half but were able to cut it to 10 in the closing minutes of the half before entering half time down by 12, 36-24.

The Wolverines continued to battle as the game stayed within 14 points much of the second half, however were just unable to make that crucial run to cut the lead under 10. Patterson was able to hang on and win their 26th game of the year by a final score of 66-52, Bridgton falls to 18-6.

Dwayne Smith scored a team high 14 points, the lone Wolverine reaching double figures.

Head Coach Whit Lesure had this to say after the game, "Well, overall the game didn't live up to the past hype or expectations and we're responsible. Patterson competed better then we did today. They deserve their #1 ranking. Chris (Chaney) has done a good job with them. I thought at one point I should send him a Thank You card for not burying me on my 50th birthday. He was kind."

When asked where the Wolverines go from here he replied, "We need to regroup and focus our attention on getting a win at Lee Academy for the first time Tuesday."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bridgton Falls To Notre Dame Prep, Wins Consolation Game

The Wolverines headed up to Maine Central Institute for a two day tournament starting on Saturday and came away with one win and one loss.

Things got started Saturday night when the Wolverines locked up with Notre Dame Prep for the second time in less then two weeks. With the Wolverines having knocked of Notre Dame 72-68 in their last meeting it was clear ND Prep was going to do everything they could to even the season series. Bridgton fell behind early as it seemed everything Notre Dame was putting up from behind the arc was falling, and in a matter of minutes the Wolverines were down by double figures. Notre Dame continued to stay hot as they were looking to take a 12 point lead into the break before Bryant Avent (Phoenix, AZ) knocked down a "3" as the horn sounded to bring the Wolverines to within 9 to start the second half.

Bridgton was able to play even with Notre Dame over the opening minutes of the second half cutting the lead down to as few as 6 before Notre Dame caught fire from behind the arc again pushing their lead back to double digits and coasting to an impressive 86-72 lead. Notre Dame Prep finished the game with a very impressive 15 made 3 pointers.

Jamal Crook (Louisville, KY) led Bridgton with 13 points, Carl Blair (Katy, TX) and Jack Houpt (Chesterton, IN) each scored 10.

When asked for his thoughts after the game Head Coach Whit Lesure said, "Our guys hung in there pretty good, knowing Notre Dame Prep was trying very hard to even the series this year. We needed to finish a few more plays when we had the chances in the second half."

Having lost in the first day of the tournament the Wolverines found themselves playing the early game Sunday afternoon, this time against NEPSAC foe St. Thomas More. Both teams struggled to get any consistent offense going throughout the game, however Malik Stith (Long Island, NY) was able to score 10 first half points that helped give Bridgton a 30-20 lead entering halftime.

In the second half Bridgton's offense continued to struggle, while St. Thomas More slowly began to close the gap one basket at a time. The Wolverines again looked to Stith who scored 13 of the team's second half points (Dwayne Smith scored the other 7) when they needed a score. Thanks to some timely defensive stops and some big free throws from Stith in the final seconds the Wolverines were able to hang on and earn an important conference win 50-46.

Stith led all scorers with 23 points, while Dwayne Smith added 10.

The close game throughout wasn't a big surprise to Lesure as he said, "We expected a difficult game with St. Thomas More. I conveyed that message as soon as Saturday's game was over, and again this morning. Everyone knows they are a dangerous and well coached team."

When asked for some comments about the weekend as a whole Lesure replied, "There were some positives to gain in getting home with a win the way we did. Guys may begin to see this is not a short, typical high school season. It's a grind. And you have to be mentally and physically tough. If you told me in September that we'd be 17-5 and leading our conference I'd be alright with that. We just have to keep our focus on getting better."

The Wolverines will return to action when they travel down to Rhode Island this weekend for the National Prep Invitational where they will square off against St. Marks on Friday afternoon and will then meet #1 ranked Patterson School (NC) on Saturday.