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NHIAA D-I Boys' Hoop Final: Portsmouth's Tavares saving his best for last

Special to the Union Leader

March 15. 2018 11:14PM

Portsmouth's Alex Tavares battles Central's Jeremyah Rivera during NHIAA Division I Boys Basketball Semifinals held at UNH in Durham on Wednesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

It’s better to be lucky than good, but when you’re as good as Alex Tavares, there isn’t much luck needed.

Hobbled by an ankle injury earlier in the season, Tavares rebounded to an all-state level and is saving his best for the biggest moments, including Wednesday night’s semifinal against Manchester Central.

Getting a rematch against one of only two teams to beat the Clippers this season, Tavares, a 6-foot-3 forward, went off for a game-high 23 points to pace Portsmouth’s 50-45 win over the Little Green at Lundholm Gym.

And as far as that sprained ankle goes, it’s a thing of the past.

“It came with a lot of work,” Tavares said of his recovery. “I had to take it easy early in the season. Even on film you could see I was favoring it. I worked it out every day, stretched it. Coach (Jim) Mulvey had me seeing all types of different people to get it healed. Today it was feeling good.”

In a sport like basketball, confidence is everything, and with a recently injured ankle, it isn’t too far-fetched to think a player — especially a strong inside player like Tavares — might be a bit hesitant to take it full speed. That’s not the case with the athletic junior. Playing the full 32 minutes against Central, Tavares looked every bit the capable player he is.

Senior guard Cody Graham, a close friend of Tavares, was quick to sing the praises of his teammate.

“His confidence has been off the charts,” Graham said. “He did everything he possibly could to get back to play for this team. He doesn’t take any days off. He’s a special player.”

On Wednesday, Tavares showed off his talent and conditioning. After the grind of a long season, Tavares, as well as Graham and senior Mike Sanborn, was asked to play the whole game against the Little Green and was more than up for the challenge.

“This team chemistry is crazy,” Tavares said. “It’s another family to me. Every day I know I can walk into the gym with this group of guys and know that everything’s good. I don’t have to keep anything back.”

Now comes a Dover team that seemingly can’t lose and is playing its best basketball in years at the best possible time.

“I don’t think the job’s done yet,” Tavares said. “We got one more game then I’ll be happy.”

NHIAA Portsmouth