Who's home? Central-Memorial basketball site switched
MANCHESTER - In most years, the idea of losing a home game against a city rival isn't something most coaches would relish. This year, that is even more true.
This is the year when the three top boys' basketball teams in the state may all reside in Manchester, and when every game between the three - Trinity, Central and Memorial - could determine a high seed and home court advantage in the Division I tournament.
In other words, this is the year when no one wants to give up a home game.
So, you could imagine the chagrin of Central coach Doc Wheeler when he found out recently that Friday's game against Memorial - a game he thought his team would be hosting - is being played at Memorial (7:30 p.m).
"I have no idea why we're going there," Wheeler said. "I think it's a four-, five-point advantage."
The game is part of a triple-header between the schools that starts with a junior varsity girls' game at 3:45 p.m., followed by a girls' varsity game at 5:30.
Dave Gosselin, athletic director for the Manchester school district, said Memorial gave up its home game last year in order for the teams to play a boys-girls double-header at Southern New Hampshire University as part of a tribute to the late Sam Carey, a former Central player. He said he believed both schools agreed at the time that Memorial would host this year's doubleheader.
Then it got complicated.
The athletic coordinators at each school - Jane Clayton at Central and Jack Quirk at Memorial - both submitted schedules to the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association that listed Central as the home team. Quirk, who is also the boys' basketball coach at Memorial, said it was an oversight. He said he contacted Clayton before the season and both agreed the game would be played at Memorial.
"This is something Jane and I communicated about months ago," Quirk said. "Whether she conveyed that to Doc, I don't know."
Wheeler said he didn't find out until recently.
"I didn't know about it," Wheeler said. "The schedule says it's a home game for us."
Doubleheaders involving the boys' and girls' teams from Memorial, Central and West are nothing new and it's a concept Gosselin likes, calling it "a good opportunity to see what kind of gate we can get with this format. In the past when we have done it they have been pretty good. If it proves to be a large gate this may be something we want to keep doing and add more.
"As has been discussed in past articles, we are looking to generate more revenue for the school district, by charging at more events, or creating more games like this to generate more revenue."
Central goes into the game atop the Division I standings at 10-0, while Memorial is sitting at 7-2. The Crusaders beat the Little Green in overtime, 66-63, in the second round of the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament in December. The game was held at Memorial.
"There's an advantage to us playing at home, there's no question about that," Quirk said. "But it's not like they're playing at Trinity, where the whole atmosphere is a little different. And they've already played three games here (during the QCIBT)."
The previous game between the teams, played to a full house, was stopped several times when condensation made the playing surface slippery. Quirk said that hasn't been a problem since.
Gosselin said the mix up shouldn't be an issue.
"Some coaches I'm sure are not happy about giving up home court," Gosselin said, "but if it helps to add revenue and we can maintain what we have for athletics by doing so, it makes sense to me. If you are going to win a state title it's going to have to be done on the road anyway."