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Jim Fennell: Senior hoop stars shine in showcase

CONCORD - About 100 student-athletes from around the state gathered at NHTI's Goldie Crocker Wellness Center on Saturday to play out the final chapter in their high school basketball careers.

Each had a distinct final line to pen.

For some, it very well could have been the final competitive game of basketball they play. For others, like Meghan Green of Bishop Guertin, it was just a precursor of what lies ahead when they go on to play in college. Green, who was named Miss Basketball, is headed to Boston University next year.

Others will keep playing, just in a different sport. Rachel Hill of Somersworth is headed to UConn to play soccer; Lindsey Nerbonne is going to Syracuse to play field hockey.

Some were playing to catch the eyes of the handful of college scouts in the crowd. They were trying to show they capable of playing at a higher level.

And, then there were players like Colebrook's Josee Brunault, who just wanted to show they could play.

There were more than a few times Brunault, a three-sport athlete who scored more than 1,000 points in basketball, felt she was playing in anonymity in the North Country. Playing on a team with some of the other best seniors in Division IV against a team made up of players from Division III was Brunault's chance to shine.

The point guard took advantage and it had little to do with the florescent green sneakers she was wearing. Brunault scored a team-high 15 points and was the best player on the floor at times. She also won the 3-point shooting contest, beating Green in the final round.

Brunault said she is headed to Boston University or the University of New Hampshire next year to study business and eventually hopes to go to law school. She probably won't play a sport in college, not that she had many choices. Few recruiters make it to Colebrook.

"There was no recruiting process," Brunault said. "This was kind of to prove a point, to show the kind of player I've been in high school. I didn't have a bad game, so it ended on a good note."

While Brunault seemed comfortable with the thought of not playing again, others are still deciding on colleges.

Jack Preston of Nashua South, who won the dunk contest and played for the Division I seniors, said he's narrowed his choices to Plymouth State, Endicott and a prep school, Bridgton Academy. He knew at least one of those coaches were in the crowd looking at him in the game against the Division II seniors.

Many of the college coaches were there to make sure recruits saw them.

NHTI men's basketball coach Paul Hogan, who has run this event almost every year for the past 10 years, said 20-25 coaches show up during the day. Most are Division III coaches, but there have been Division II coaches and even an occasional Division I coach.

Hogan said someone who wasn't on a particular coach's radar will invariably do something to impress that coach and trigger the recruiting process.

"I think that happens every year," Hogan said. "They'll see someone they haven't seen. A lot of coaches are here looking for players who will fit into their system"

For Hogan and NHTI, the recruiting process works the other way, as well. He said players who have never been to NHTI before will see the campus and add the school to their list. He said the men's and women's usually get two to three players from this game every year.

"It ends up being a nice recruiting piece for NHTI," Hogan said.

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