Alvirne goes inside, tops AstrosBy JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 12. 2018 11:11PM
DERRY — Last week’s first loss of the season for the Alvirne High of Hudson boys’ basketball team proved to be more of a reality check than a setback. It made the Broncos understand that winning games from beyond the 3-point arc wasn’t a certainty night in and night out.
Flash forward to Friday night, where Alvirne brought its game closer to the hoop to take a 70-57 win over Pinkerton at Hackler Gymnasium. The Broncos (4-1) made just two 3-pointers and didn’t attempt many more in the victory while working with more high-percentage shots in the post and in transition.
“We’ve been working more on manufacturing points coming out of an offensive set,” Broncos coach Marty Edwards said. “We were winning games early on by shooting the lights out. We learned against Memorial that (playing out of sets) is going to be pretty critical in most situations.”
Max Bonney-Liles led the charge again for the Broncos with 23 points, including 15 in the second half, but Paul Manzi’s 16 points spurred Alvirne and its new-look offense. Manzi, who scored 10 of his points in the first half to help Alvirne out to a 29-17 edge, poured in all but two free throws on shots from no further than 10 feet from the basket.
“We’ve always tried to get the ball down low,” Manzi said. “The goal was to get it there today. It just took good positioning and they really left the middle wide open so we took advantage of it.”
Manzi has been part of the equation for the Broncos from the onset of this season after sitting out last season due to a knee injury suffered during Alvirne’s football season. The 6-foot-4 sophomore brings football toughness to the court by earning good positioning in the post with his strength, which also shows in his ability to fight through to the basket for hoops and rebounds.
“He’s a strong kid and sometimes he’s the only one that doesn’t know it,” Edwards said. “We constantly have to sell him saying, ‘Pauly, you’re a basketball player. When you get the ball that close, you have to go after it.’ Tonight he went with that and showed that he’s a powerful kid.”
A 13-3 run out of halftime pushed Alvirne’s lead to 13 and the advantage eventually ballooned to 51-34 at the end of three quarters. The Broncos knocked down both of their treys while separating in the third quarter, showing they can balance the offense when they need to.
Despite never being within true striking distance in the second half, Pinkerton (1-4) didn’t let Alvirne get away comfortably. A 7-0 run to open the fourth cut the Astros’ deficit to 10 points while forcing the Broncos into chaos offensively. While Alvirne eventually smoothed things out, Pinkerton was plagued by inconsistency, as was the case throughout the night for the Astros.
“We can’t put the ball in the hole and it shows with our shooting percentage,” Pinkerton coach Pete Rosinski said. “Our kids are giving it everything they have but can’t get it to fall.”
Andrew Lufkin, who sat out half the first quarter and all of the second quarter while in foul trouble, scored all of his team-high 19 points in the second half for Pinkerton, which got 17 points from Sam Goy. Lufkin’s absence left the Astros without a scoring option and a facilitator, which in addition to being beaten up in the post led to them falling into an early hole.