action:article | category:SPORTS16 | adString:SPORTS16 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » Sports Columns

March 15. 2013 10:25PM

Vin Sylvia: Souhegan's Kennedy already right at home at UNH


 


JAY REITER3-13-13Souhegan center jake Kennedy has his shot blocked by Lebanon's Dylan Drew. 

With less than a minute to play in Wednesday's NHIAA Division II boys' basketball semifinals and Souhegan High of Amherst leading Lebanon by a scant three points, Souhegan's Jake Kennedy took a feed in the paint and squared to the hoop. Without hesitating, the Sabers center lofted a soft jumper to make it 49-44 and all but lock up what eventually would become a 53-45 victory at the University of New Hampshire's Lundholm Gymnasium.

Watching from the corner of the gym, UNH football coach Sean McDonnell smiled.

Kennedy will return to Lundholm for today's division championship against unbeaten Pembroke Academy, and he'll be spending even more time there in the years to come. A 6-foot, 4-inch, 280-pound tackle, Kennedy is among McDonnell's 2013 recruits, a prospective mainstay on Wildcat offensive lines in autumns to come.

"It was my first time seeing him play basketball because of restrictions in the recruiting process that didn't allow us to watch him earlier in the season, before (letter-of-intent) signing day," McDonnell said. "By the time I got there, he already had four or five points. I was giving him a hard time after the game because he had eight or 10 points at the half and didn't do much scoring after that, but he hit a big bucket on that short jumper in the lane."

McDonnell will be back at Lundholm today to see if Kennedy and the Sabers can complete an improbable title run to the Division II title by spoiling Pembroke Academy's bid for a perfect season.

Souhegan (14-7) and Pembroke (21-0) tip off at noon, with the Division I final between top-seeded Trinity of Manchester (20-1) and No. 7 Bishop Guertin of Nashua (16-5) to follow in the all-Catholic-school Division I final at 3 p.m.

No word on whether white smoke will emanate from the Lundholm roof when we have a Division I champion.

Thinking McDonnell will be watching Kennedy with one eye closed, hoping the prized recruit doesn't hurt himself? Think again.

Like so many other college coaches who frown on sport specialization, McDonnell is happy to see his players exercise some complementary muscles and exhibit athleticism in something other than their primary sport. Moreover, seeing an athlete perform in the type of pressure situations a state tournament game presents tells provides a glimpse of what the athlete has on the inside.

"Whether it's a wrestler in a championship round, a track kid in the anchor leg of a relay or a basketball player shooting a one-and-one with the game on the line, you want to see what he does when the pressure's on," McDonnell said.

He was pleased by what he saw of Kennedy.

"I like the way he competed," he said. "I like the composure he showed in the fourth quarter."

Watching Kennedy in the semifinals brought to mind two other UNH linemen he'd seen play in NHIAA tournament games, McDonnell said. Nick Couturier made it to the 2003 Class L (now Division I) basketball final with Dover High before becoming an all-conference football center for the 'Cats, and Seamus O'Neill was a basketball standout before becoming a 2012 all-Colonial Athletic Conference tackle.

Whether Kennedy turns out to be an all-conference lineman remains to be seen. His immediate priority is helping Souhegan win its first basketball state title since 2004.

Kennedy, by the way, is one of three players who will be vying for a title today after earning New Hampshire Union Leader All-State football honors last fall. The others: Souhegan guard Tyler Ford, who lined up behind Kennedy as a quarterback and defensive back for the Sabers, and Carmen Giampetruzzi, who excelled as a QB and punter for Trinity.



- - - - - - -



McDONNELL - whose younger son, Tommy, played in then-Class I tournament for Oyster River High of Durham before becoming a current member of the UNH varsity - hung around Lundholm long enough Wednesday to see Pembroke junior guard Pat Welch score 21 of his game-high 28 points in the first half of a 62-31 rout of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy.

His impression?

"Wow," McDonnell said. "For a Division II kid to play the way he did ... He's the best high school basketball player I've seen on that court in a while."

As good as he is, though, Welch is no one-man show. Pembroke coach Matt Alosa's team has won its 21 NHIAA games by an average margin of 16.3 points, its three tournament games by an average of more than 20.

And it can't hurt that Alosa knows a little bit about playing in Lundholm. In two seasons after transferring from Providence College, from 1994-96, Alosa averaged 23.1 points, more than anyone else in UNH history.


Vin Sylvia is a deputy managing editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Email him at vsylvia@unionleader.com.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Grantland.com: 15 Questions for San Antonio's Matt Bonner

Former KSC basketball player killed months after joining NYC police in patrol van crash

Speed and thrills at Kingston hydroplane races

NHMS, Miller Lite extend deal for another 3 years

NASCAR: Who the Vegas wise guys like heading into Loudon

Goalie Danny Tirone to enroll at UNH for second semester after star's suspension for domestic violence

'Smoke' blows into New Hampshire with the law in his rear-view mirror

Man found unconscious at Winchester Speedpark Saturday

Too young to drive, but old enough for NHMS

Police examine speed, possible horseplay in golf cart fatality

Mass. man, 27, dies in golf cart accident at The Links at Outlook

Hanover's Sarah Groff competes in the women's triathlon final during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Hanover Olympian in spotlight at Las Vegas Super Sprint

FHL makes it official, team planned for Berlin will play in North Adams, Mass. instead

Can NH soccer star Charlie Davies make a comeback?

Inside NIKEs secret sports lab; born in Exeter, now located in Oregon.

Concord Monitor decries gender pay gap in professional tennis

FHL franchise slated for Berlin may go to North Adams, Mass. instead

Eagles' Kelly says he learned his offense by studying defense while at UNH

Former Concord area youth baseball coach sentenced to 30 more years in prison

Maine boxer Brandon Berry making Fight to Educate history

Hudson family, classmates working to keep Alvirne soccer standout Raul Stedile in U.S.

Israel unrest moves meet for NH swim star

Race date for Oxford 250 moved from July to Aug. 30 next year

NH's Groff a highlight for U.S. at ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!