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February 20. 2014 11:05PM

Roger Brown's High School Basketball: Bulldogs have momentum


Bedford's Taylor Grande drives through Londonderry's defense during Wednesday's game. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

THE most misleading won-lost record in New Hampshire high school sports belongs to the Bedford boys' basketball team.

Bedford improved to 8-7 with Wednesday night's 55-50 triumph over Londonderry, but the Bulldogs are clearly better — much better — than their eight victories indicate. Five of Bedford's seven losses came by four points or fewer. The Bulldogs began the season 0-4, and lost those four games by a total of 13 points.

Bedford also has momentum. The Bulldogs have won seven in a row since their 1-7 start, and haven't allowed more than 50 points in a game during that stretch. Wednesday's victory came against a Londonderry team that entered the contest with a 13-2 record, and it ended the Lancers' eight-game winning streak.

"We're playing a bit better," Bedford coach Mike Fitzpatrick said. "We're cutting down on turnovers, and we're rebounding and defending better.

"I wasn't nervous (when the team was 1-7). I just didn't want the guys to quit on themselves or the team. We had to persevere and continue to work hard — work through it."

Bedford's poor start also included an 0-3 record in the Queen City Invitational, games that do not count in the Division I standings. Why the sudden turnaround? Fitzpatrick said senior guard Taylor Grande was bothered by an ankle injury early in the season, but is much closer to 100 percent healthy now. He also said moving guard Justin Hayes into the starting lineup has given the team a boost, particularly at the defensive end.

A tough schedule early on undoubtedly contributed to Bedford's 1-7 start as well. Bedford's first seven contests included matchups against Manchester Central (15-0), Trinity of Manchester (14-1 ), Merrimack (13-2), Bishop Guertin of Nashua (12-3), and Winnacunnet of Hampton (10-5).

Bedford will attempt to extend its winning streak when it faces Pinkerton Academy of Derry (8-7) tonight in Bedford. The teams are tied for eighth place, and are among those battling to earn a home game for the Division I tournament's preliminary round. The top eight teams will begin postseason play in their own gym.

"I don't really look at things like that, so I don't even know where we are (in the standings)," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm a short-term guy. I just want us to keep getting better."

- - - - - -

ACCORDING to Londonderry coach John Fagula, senior point guard Aliza Simpson is expected to be in the lineup when the Lancers (13-3) play at Trinity of Manchester (8-5) tonight.

Simpson has missed Londonderry's last eight games after suffering a hairline fracture above her right knee in a victory against Dover on Jan. 27. Simpson is averaging 19.0 points and 8.5 assists per game. The Lancers are 5-3 since Simpson's injury, and will be trying to end a two-game losing streak tonight.

"She constantly puts pressure on the defense," Fagula said. "If she sees people aren't in the right place it can lead to a lot of easy baskets."

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THERE'S an interesting boys' basketball matchup in Keene tonight, where Keene (0-14) and Timberlane of Plaistow (0-17) will each be looking for their first victory of the season.

The Blackbirds and Owls are the only winless teams in Division I, but the baggage is a little heavier for Timberlane. The Owls have lost 81 consecutive games against Division I competition. Among high school teams, it's the longest losing streak in the nation.

It will be the final game of the season for Timberlane, which is dropping to Division II next season.


Roger Brown covers high school basketball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He can be reached at rbrown@unionleader.com. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.


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