Pembroke Academy graduate and coach Matt Alosa crouches courtside while watching his team in action. (HARRY KOZLOWSKI)
On top — and Pembroke Academy aims to stay there
This year's team may be even better.
Since opening their season on the road with a 68-65 victory over a very good Lebanon team, the Spartans have won their last eight games — including three in the Capital Area Holiday Tournament — by an average margin of 28.6 points. The closest game in that stretch: Tuesday's 59-47 win over Hollis/Brookline. The most lopsided: an 89-35 thrashing of John Stark Regional of Weare.
Once again, senior guard Pat Welch, last year's Division II Player of the Year, leads the Spartans. Welch is averaging 23.2 points per game against NHIAA competition and scored a season-high 39 in a 91-59 victory over Bow in the Capital Area quarterfinals.
The leading scorer for a Bishop Brady of Concord team that won three straight Class I championships in the mid-1960s, Frank Alosa played briefly for New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University) and later coached at Brady, Franklin and Trinty of Manchester. He also founded the Granite State Raiders AAU program, which counts among its alumni two NBA players, Concord's Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs and Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies. (A South Dakota native, Miller befriended Bonner and joined him on the Raiders during the summer of 1998, when the two were University of Florida-bound recruits.)
"He wants us to play hard, practice hard, play as a team," said Connor Boucher. "When we do something wrong, he gives us constructive criticism."
"He's a role model for us because he's been through what we're doing. He knows what he's talking about" said Curran.
Alosa also believes in making his players earn their minutes. His starters play 22 to 24 minutes per game. He only goes two or three deep on his bench.
It helps that he has one of the best players in the state on his team.
Welch is close to joining the exclusive ranks of New Hampshire high school players to score more than 2,000 career points, a club to which his coach also belongs.
Welch's scoring average so far this season is similar to what he averaged last year, but he's a better player, Alosa said. The difference shows not in his average, but in the performance of his teammates.
And that means that anything less than another Division II title would be considered a disappointment.