Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bridgton Rallies To Down Worcester

Bridgton Academy began its NEPSAC Tournament Title defense Sunday afternoon as they traveled to Phillips Exeter Academy, to take on Worcester Academy in a play-in game. The Wolverines are the #8 seed in the tournament, with Worcester being the #9. Bridgton was able to rally late and earn a 69-64 victory.

#24 Kevin Anthony goes up for the tip off against Worcester Academy Sunday at Phillips Exeter, in the NEPSAC play in game.

The first half was a back and forth battle, which saw three ties and seven lead changes. Bridgton had the biggest lead of the half when Ruben Kanya's (Hamilton, Ontario) three capped off an 8-0 run to make it 27-19. Worcester responded with a 9-0 run of their own to go up 28-27. From that point on it was back and forth with the lead changing with the changing of possession. Worcester took a slight 33-32 advantage into the break.

#23 Chance Jones knocks down a three late in the game.

To start the second half Worcester was hot and stretched the lead to six, but Bridgton kept battling and Chance Jones (Knoxville, TN) hit a three with 13:00 to play and even the score at 41-41. The game was still knotted with 8:28 to play following a Kanya bucket, making it 49-49. Worcester from that point went on an 8-0 run, thanks in large part to the shooting of Billy Barron to build a 57-49 lead, with 7:00 remaining.
#24 Kevin Anthony goes to the basket against Worcester

Paul Dick (Belfast, Ireland) scored five straight for the Wolverines, and a three by Jones, with 5:18 to play, tied the game at 57. Jones knocked down another three on the next BA possession, and Dick added another bucket to bring the Black and Gray roaring back with a 13-0 run and lead 62-57 with 3:42 to play. Worcester would cut the lead to just three with 1:47 to play, but Alex Harris (Richmond, CA) knocked down a jumper and forced a turnover with 40 seconds to play, and secure the win. Barron kept it exciting by knocking down a deep three, but there was not enough time as Jones converted foul shots to make the final 69-64.
#00 Thierno Niang talks with #24 Kevin Anthony during the game Sunday vs. Worcester.

Following the game Lesure commented on the play of his team, "What a great win for our team. Out of the timeout down seven late we were tough and good. I like the fact we're still getting better." Lesure was complimentary of Worcester saying, "I have a lot of respect for how Worcester competes, and Billy Barron is my favorite player in our league." Barron finished with a game high 24 points. Harris lead BA with 21, Dick added 20 and Jones had 15.

Bridgton will now play Brewster Academy on Wednesday at Endicott College. Speaking of the upcoming match up Lesure said, "I am excited to play Brewster again. Jason (Smith) and I have become good friends. I think Brewster vs. Bridgton has become the best rivalry, and some of the big games have been in the tournament. This will be another," he went on to say, "We're underdogs, but that's fine."

The team would like to thank students Dave Roberson, Jamie White, Jerrell Green, Ethan Barnes, and John Despres for making the trip to Exeter to support the team, as well as thanks to Athletic Director Brad Smith for running the score clock.

Bridgton will take on Brewster at 4:00 PM at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, Wednesday.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NEPSAC Playoffs

Bridgton Academy will play Sunday, February 28th at 1:00 PM against Worcester Academy in the play-in round of the NEPSAC Playoffs. The game will be played at a neutral site, Phillips Exeter Academy. The Wolverines are the #8 seed for the NEPSAC Tournament, while Worcester is #9. The winner will take on #1 seed Brewster Academy on Wednesday at Endicott College.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bridgton Stumbles at Winchendon

Bridgton traveled to Winchedon for the final regular season game of the season. BA was poised to beat another top league rival, leading at the half 32-26 but got out played over the games final ten minutes to lose a hard fought contest 70-58.

After trailing 9-4 the Wolverines dug in on the defensive end and executed their motion offense with confidence. Good play on both ends propelled Bridgton to a 32-20 lead before Winchendon countered with six unanswered points, cutting the BA lead to six at half.

The Wapiti made a run to even the game immediately at the start of the second half. Bridgton responded and the two teams remained deadlocked with 12 minutes left. Winchendon was able to break the game open a bit, yet BA was still able to get a clean look out of a timeout that would have brought it back to six points with three minutes remaining.

Coach Lesure was complimentary of his teams play, but cited the missed oppertunity before half, "We were playing well no doubt, but you have to stay in the trance, you can't lose your focus or let up for a possession." Lesure continued with, "They grabbed some momentum, pushed on us pretty good in the second half and I thought maybe we lost our legs. We didn't sustain our defensive position nor run as effective movement offensively. Which was the stronger team in the second half."

Alex Harris (Richomnd, CA) had 18 points, Paul Dick (Belfast, Ireland) had 14 and Addison Williams (Boulder, CO) added 11 for BA.

As the Wolverines wait for word on the upcoming playoffs Lesure sees an improved team in the locker room, "Our chemistry is a lot better. We are getting valuable individual efforts from ten guys. I understand we are a long shot in Las Vegas to advance too far in the tournament, but the games aren't played on paper, they're on wood, I might have to ask these guys if they're ever heard the story of NC State."

Bridgton awaits its playoff seeding, which will begin over the weekend.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Harris Sparks Wolverines to Upset Over Brewster

A season long journey of putting a complete game together carried the Wolverines to an exciting upset of NEPSAC #1 ranked Brewster Academy, 70-67 Wednesday night at the Wolverdome.

After a sluggish start which saw the visitors bolt to a 13-4 lead within the first five minutes, the home squad played some inspired basketball to get even at the half on a 3 pt bucket by Ruben Kanya (Hamilton, Ontario). The teams went into the locker rooms deadlocked at 28. Kanya scored the last 5 points of the half to bring BA even after trailing throughout the half.

Bridgton started fast in the second half to take their first lead at 33-28 but the two teams traded leads throughout much of the first ten minutes of the second half. The last ten minutes saw more back and forth play with the Wolverines responding to each Brewster run. During one stretch the two teams traded several long range bombs that had the overflowing ancient hoop hall rocking.

BA secured the lead for the last time in the final two minutes and withstood the full court pressure of the Bobcats with Alex Harris (Richmond, CA) hitting four clutch free throws to seal the upset victory. Harris was outstanding all night leading all scorers with 29 points but also handling the ball and setting up his teammates for big shots of their own. One of those shots was an athletic put-back by Jeff Smeltz (Pascoag, RI) off a Harris miss with 23 seconds to go that gave the Wolverines a 4 point cushion. Kevin Anthony (Columbus, OH) chipped in with 9 points of his own in his first start late in the regular season and added 6 rebounds to the hustling Bridgton defense.

The Bridgton effort was markedly improved over many performances to date and Coach Lesure had a hard time pin-pointing any specific area of play in his comments afterward. "We played very well, as consistently as we have against any team this year, for us the turnovers are huge (11 for the game)." Lesure went on to say, "We have to be able to run our offense and get good looks at the basket and I thought our guys made a lot of smart decisions tonight. What can I say about (Alex) Harris? He was special out there. But he had a team behind him, and perhaps the biggest contribution was (Athletic Trainer Joe) Sawicki, working some magic late in the game to get him back on the floor after suffering some leg problems."

With the win the Wolverines enter their final regular season contest, against Winchendon on Friday, with a bit of momentum and perhaps better feel for themselves. Lesure said afterward that "you always want to earn your way into the playoffs and prove you belong at the dance. That Brewster team is number two in the country for a reason and will have the opportunity to rebound," Lesure remarked. The question now is how the Wolverines handle their new found success.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Harris Selected as Co-Athlete of the Month

Though it was up down for the basketball team for the early winter, one player has been a model of consistency and leadership. Our Co-Athlete of The Month was the go-to guy and the key that drove the Wolverine basketball team.

His importance to the team was never more evident than the home game versus MCI in December. Alex was out of the game as he served a suspension due to an altercation during the previous game against Winchendon. Without him in the game, BA never really got on track and suffered a defeat at home. He is arguably the most complete player on the team and his offensive prowess was on display during the month. He led the team with 20 points per game during the month and when he was on, it usually meant a win for BA. He scored 30 in a double-overtime win against South Kent and 25 in a win over MCI in the BA Winter Classic. His best game of the month, however, was in a tough loss to a strong St. Thomas More program in which he led all scorers with 36 points.

For all Alex has done for the Wolverine basketball program, he is awarded the Co-Athlete of The Month for Early Winter 2009-2010. Not only has he been an offensive force for the Wolverines, but he is a rabid defender and his leadership on and off the floor has been the stabilizing factor during the game. He has been the driving force to the success of the basketball team and we look forward to see what the rest of the winter holds.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pandas Survive Wolverines' Late Flurry Again

Bridgton traveled to Lee Academy for a non conference match up, before entering their final week of NEPSAC regular season play. The Wolverines were looking to pick up consecutive victories for just the third time this season. Final analysis of the game, was Bridgton spotted the host Pandas a few too many point, and were unable to come up with an improbable victory, losing 75-69.

Lee jumped on the visitors, who appeared not to have gotten off the bus, early and kept pouring it on, extending their lead to 35-5 late in the first half. Bridgton closed the half with better play to cut the deficit to 41-26 at halftime.

Lee kept the lead in double digits until the eight minute mark when Bridgton broke through and hung tough until making their final run with less than three minutes to go. Several defensive stops and more efficient offense cut the lead to three with 32 seconds left, but a careless defensive foul and a questionable no call on the other end, ended the hopes of a valiant road win.

Coach Lesure credited Lee afterward saying, "They played really well on both ends of the floor during stretches of this game. We stopped turning the ball over and competed on the defensive end and made it a tight game. There were a lot of situations out there today that we can learn from, but our primary focus is preparing to play our next game. We're not going to beat ourselves up over the loss, nor feel too good about the comeback effort."

Bridgton will now turn to focus on their two remaining NEPSAC games. Wednesday Brewster will come to North Bridgton at 5:30 PM, and Friday the Wolverines will travel to Winchendon for the regular season finale.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wolverines Snap Streak, Earn Win Over Exeter

Taking a page out of the University of Connecticut's playbook, where an assistant coach replaces the Hall of Fame head coach do to illness, the Wolverines took on Phillips Exeter with assistant Bob Holden at the helm. Bridgton, slumping of late, was looking for a much needed NEPSAC victory. The Wolverdome had a different feel early Wednesday evening, without the animated Lesure patrolling the sidelines. Holden used his calm demeanor to guide the Wolverines to an 80-69 victory.
Assistant Coach Bob Holden stepped in to lead Bridgton to a victory over Exeter

Exeter scored the first basket of the game, but Bridgton used a 12-0 run to pull away early, but a determined Exeter squad would not allow Bridgton to run away with it as they came back to make it 24-23 with 11:26 to play. BA then went on a 6-0 run including four straight points from Justin Miller (Agawam, MA) to lead 30-23. Once again Exeter would not let BA break it open, as James Herring hit one of his four first half three pointers to tie the game at 34-34 with 4:01 remaining. Alex Harris (Richmond, CA) hit a three to end the half and send the Wolverines into the locker room up, 45-38.
#34 Justin Miller puts up two of his four straight points in a win over Exeter

The hot shooting of Herring continued early in the second half as his three pointer with 13:12 brought the Lions within one, 53-52, with 13:12 to play. Bridgton answered right back with a three from Harris, and the teams exchanged buckets for the majority of the half. It was a three point game with 6:12 to play before the Wolverines were able to get some breathing room. Kevin Anthony (Columbus, OH) sealed the victory by slamming home an alley-oop with 1:20 to play, and the Wolverines went on to win by a score of 80-69.
#33 Paul Dick knocks down three of his 17 points against Exeter

In a game that was closer than the final score indicated, the Wolverines were able to snap a three game losing streak, and in doing so Holden picked up his first career win. Following the game the assistant coach said, "I got the call about 10am this morning, but thought I was being set up. When I showed up for shoot around and Whit (Lesure) and Tim (Atwood) weren't here I was looking around for them hiding somewhere."

Eight players got on the board for BA, including six with five points or more. Harris finished with a game high 26, Paul Dick (Belfast, Ireland) added 17, Chance Jones (Knoxville, TN) had 15, with 12 coming in the first half by way of 4 three pointers. For Phillips Exeter James Herring finished with 18, coming off of six threes.

Holden kept it simple with the players telling them before the game, "It's your team, go out there and play like one. Bring it from practice to the game, and we will make adjustments when we need to." Holden's second half adjustment of matching Addison Williams (Boulder, CO) up with Herring paid off as Herring only hit two shots in the second half, "Addison was big for us in the second half, shutting down a hot shooter." Holden went on to say, "Every year Exeter comes here and they are a tough team to beat, the have a disciplined and well executed offense."

With the win Bridgton improves to 9-14, with two NEPSAC games remaining, but first a rematch with Lee Academy, who beat the Wolverines earlier in the year, on Sunday, on the road.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Alumni Update: Shavar Bernier '06

Recently Head Basketball Coach Whit Lesure, school counselor Bob Katz, and first year assistant basketball coach Tim Atwood traveled to Colby College in Waterville, ME to watch Shavar Bernier '06 and Connecticut College take on the Mules. Bob Katz had the following to say after the game;

"Shavar, co-captain for the last three years, scored 17 points in a 65-60 upset victory. The next night at Bowdoin College, Shavar hit six three point shots while scoring 24 points in a losing effort. This turned out to be his last game as the loss put Connecticut College out of the NESCAC playoffs. Shavar ended his career with a school record of 202 career three point shots scored."

Whit Lesure and Bob Katz met up with Shavar Bernier '06 after his game against Colby College in Waterville, ME. The Camels won 65-60, Bernier scored 17.

"Shavar was the Spooner Award winner of the Class of '06. He is on track to graduate this spring in four years. He has hopes of continuing to play basketball after graduation and is interested in pursuing a career in coaching."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cardinals Even Season Series

The struggles continued for the Bridgton Academy Wolverines as they were handed another set back, this time at the hands of the South Kent Cardinals, 80-59. The Cardinals used decisive runs during each half to pull away from Birdgton and earn a split of the season series.

South Kent forced Bridgton into a number of turnovers in each half, and used a 7-0 run to end the first half to take a 43-28 lead at the break.

Bridgton came out hot to start the second half and immediately cut the deficit to just eight points. BA would get within seven, but could never close the margin more than that. Ruben Kanya (Hamilton, Ontario) led the Wolverine offense with a season high 16 points. Coach Lesure praised Kanya's efforts afterward saying, "Our toughest guy responded to today's challenge. He was really good on the defensive end too."

The Wolverines have dropped three in a row, and four of their last five. Lesure said, "Sometimes during a season you have to acknowledge where you're at... we're not very good right now but i think we're closer to beating good teams than our guys might realize. Part of my job is help us break through to a higher level of play in the next two weeks. I am very confident we can achieve that and pursue the championship aggressively as we have in the past. like Dustin Hoffman said in Wag The Dog 'This is nothing, just a minor setback, that's all.'"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Huskies Run Away From Wolverines

For the fourth time this season, but just the first in Pittsfield, Bridgton took on MCI. Hopefully, for the Wolverines it will be the last time they have to travel North to take on the Huskies. MCI broke open a 12 point halftime lead to thump the Wolverines 91-63 Wednesday night.

The game started with the teams exchanging baskets, before MCI established a six point advantage halfway through the frame. The Huskies took advantage of missed foul shots and ten first half turnovers by BA to lead by 12 at the break.

Bridgton hit two early foul shots in the opening of the second half to cut the lead to ten, but that was as close as BA would come. The MCI lead ballooned to 18, and Bridgton used its press to try and slow the Huskies, but to no avail as they were never able to seriously threaten MCI.

Paul Dick (Belfast, Ireland) and Alex Harris (Richmond, CA) led the offense with 22 points apiece. Coach Lesure was complimentary of MCI afterward in defeat saying, "They have proven they're a quality team, the best MCI team in my opinion in many years. I am happy for those guys."

Lesure commented on his own teams situation, "We are in a different situation, still searching for some answers, but far from a lost cause. We've got enough pride in our locker room to get this thing right before its all over." Lesure did not exclude himself from the struggles by saying, "I got a bit impatient and committed us to reckless pressure. I'm confident I will coach better, and we will have some players play better next time out."

The Wolverines look to turn things around as they travel to South Kent, CT to take on the Cardinals, in a rematch of one of the best games of the season, a 108-104 2OT victory by BA.

Lesure gave special mention to the efforts of local high school, Lake Region, saying, "My hat's off to Lake Region High School, for their thrilling state playoff victory the other night," a 56-41 prelim victory over Yarmouth High School. "They play the right way, and our program wishes them continued success to accomplish their dreams this season."

Alumni Update: Keaton Grant '06

Keaton Grant '06 was recently included in a photo in The Wall Street Journal about Purdue University. The article can be found here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

NMH More Than BA Can Handle

Bridgton traveled to the University of Rhode Island to compete in the National Prep Tournament. The Wolverines faced off against Northfield Mount Hermon on Saturday afternoon, and suffered a 80-58 loss.

In the early goings the two teams exchanged baskets, but the inside force and outside shooting of NMH was too much for Bridgton as the Hoggers opened up a 20 point halftime lead. Bridgton was never able to seriously respond with and offensive attack of their own.

In the second half BA was able to cut the deficient to 13 on various occasions, however key baskets and big stops were in short supply when the Wolverines needed them the most.

Coach Lesure credited the Hoggers for the troubles that the Wolverines encountered, as BA knew they were up against as good a team as there is in the NEPSAC. "We hoped to be able to play at a high level on back to back days. Its hard to predict but but they caused a lot of miscues on our part that we will try and remedy."

The Wolverines have suffered losses in six of their last eight contests. Lesure went on to say, "I tell our guys all the time its talent or effort. If you get beat on talent that's fine, if you get beat on effort or smarts that's not okay. I thought Northfield Mount Hermon played hungrier than we did."

Bridgton will travel to MCI and South Kent before returning home for three consecutive contests.

Lesure finished saying, "I like this time of year. You find out who the ballplayers are, who keeps pushing to improve everyday and whose thinking about spring break on the beach somewhere. I know my golf clubs are stored away until the snow leaves Bridgton in May."

Wolverines Rout CBA

Competing in the National Prep Invitational Tournament at the University of Rhode Island, the Bridgton Academy Wolverines took on the Canarias Basketball Academy in their first game. Bridgton got off to a slow start and over came deficits of 9-0 and 11-2 to post perhaps their best win of the season, 75-58.

Implementing multiple defenses after falling behind early, the Wolverines were able to battle their way back into the contest thanks to hot shooting. Chance Jones (Knoxville, TN) hit a three at the buzzer to take a 38-37 lead at halftime.

Bridgton carried that momentum into the second half as they quickly extended the lead to five, and never looked back. The Wolverines had one of their best shooting performances of the season as ten players got in on the scoring and BA never trailed in the half. The Black and Gray broke the game open in the final six minutes as the lead increased to double digits.

Alex Harris (Richmond, CA) lead all scorers with 28 points, Jones finished with 17.

Coach Lesure had the feeling this was the teams finest effort of the season saying, "It was the most complete game we have played. It probably starts with making a few shots, but there were a lot of positives in our performance. We were a completely different team out there. Hopefully we will internalize the feelings of playing well and be more able to repeat it."

Bridgton improves its record to 8-11, and will take on Northfield Mount Hermon in a NEPSAC match up in their final game at URI.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pandas Survive Wolverines' Late Flurry

The Lee Academy Pandas traveled from the depths of the Maine wilderness to take on Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton on Tuesday night. For Bridgton it was their third game in four days, and Lee was participating in their third contest in as many days, a rescheduled match up from Wednesday.

The first half was a closely contested battle that saw Lee lead throughout, but only hold a slight 32-31 advantage at the break.

In the second half the Pandas came out strong starting with an 8-0 run to distance themselves from the hosts. The lead reached double digits with 13:26 to play as Lee went up 48-37, the Pandas would enjoy their largest advantage with 12:26 to play as they went up 13.

Paul Dick (Belfast, Ireland) hit a three with 7:42 to play to bring the deficit back to single numbers, 54-45. The Lee advantage was back to 13 however just 1:04 later thanks to four straight points by Malik Dean. Bridgton used a 13-5 run over a 3:09 stretch to bring themselves within one point at 65-64, with just 2:06 to play.

Following a time out Bridgton needed a defensive stop, to get a chance to take their first lead of the game. Ruben Kanya (Hamilton, Ontario) drew what appeared to be an offensive player control foul that would negate the converted layup and give Bridgton the ball back, however it was called a blocking foul and sent Vaughn Allen to the line with a chance to put the Pandas up by four. Allen converted the three point play to put Lee up 68-64 with 25.7 seconds to play. It was too much too late for Bridgton as Chance Jones (Knoxville, TN) hit a three at the buzzer for a final of 69-67.

"They just out played us, including the start of each half," Head Coach Whit Lesure said following the game. He went on to say, "We couldn't get a stop at the end, and had a hard time getting one all night."

Alex Harris (Richmond, CA) led the Wolverines in scoring with 23 points, Jones finished with 19 and Kanya contributed 10.

Lesure said, "We weren't the aggressors until the very end, give Lee credit they controlled play," Bridgton never saw a lead in the game, "we did not shoot well enough to make up for the other errors we had." The coach was quick to point out his own shortcomings of the day by saying, "I had no more positive impact than many of our players did," referring to his decisions late in the game.

Bridgton will next travel to University of Rhode Island this weekend to compete in the National Prep School Invitational Tournament.

Lesure's final contention was that, "Quinn Allen would have called a charge for certain."

Photos From Wolverine Tournament