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March 08. 2013 11:13PM

Men's Basketball: Rivalry renewed in NE-10 title tilt


SNHU junior Michael Stys lines up a shot during practice in Manchester on Thursday. The team was preparing for Saturday's Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball championship against in-state rival Franklin Pierce. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

A team from New Hampshire is taking home the Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball championship this afternoon in Rindge.

Sixth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University (18-10) or fourth-seeded Franklin Pierce University (21-7) will capture the title and earn an automatic berth to the Division II NCAA tournament. Tip-off at the FPU Fieldhouse is 1 p.m.

In the 1990s, the teams met six times in the playoffs as members of the New England Collegiate Conference - SNHU won five of those games - but today marks the first time they've met in the NE-10 postseason.

The Ravens, led by coach David Chadbourne, have won four consecutive games against the Penmen, including a regular-season sweep in 2012-13. In both games, junior forward Ellis Cooper paced Franklin Pierce with a strong performance under the basket. Cooper had 18 points and seven rebounds in an 83-73 triumph at Rindge, followed by a 14-point performance last month as Franklin Pierce defeated SNHU, 61-57, in Manchester. Northeast-10 Player of the Year Eric Jean-Guillaume is averaging a team-high 16.5 points and 3.7 assists per game to lead the Ravens, who lost their regular-season finale against Merrimack, 69-62.

The Penmen, riding a five-game winning streak, have made a strong run in their first NE-10 tournament appearance since the 2009-10 season. Freshman Rodney Sanders, averaging 12.0 points per game this season, scored 22 points in the NE-10 semifinals to lead SNHU over Saint Rose, 81-62. A balanced Penmen attack includes B.J. Cardarelli and Mike Stys, who are averaging 11.6 points per game. Stys, of Manchester Central, has netted a team-high 53 treys this season. Both schools are vying for their first Northeast-10 championship in men's basketball.


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