DURHAM — The second quarter couldn’t have gone much better for the Pembroke Academy boys’ basketball team, and those eight minutes pretty much determined the outcome of Saturday’s Division II championship game.
Third-seeded Pembroke dominated both ends of the court in the second quarter to turn a tie game into a one-sided affair and breezed to a 47-35 triumph over ninth-seeded Kearsarge at the University of New Hampshire’s Lundholm Gymnasium.
It was a 12-12 contest after one quarter, but the Spartans outscored the Cougars 19-2 in the second to open up a 17-point halftime lead. In addition, Kearsarge guard Noah Tremblay — the team’s leading scorer — picked up his third foul with 5:22 left in the second quarter, and senior forward Jak Jallah was called for his third foul with just under a minute to play in the half.
“The 19-2 run in the second quarter was the difference in the game, I believe,” Pembroke coach Rich Otis said. “We were able to run our full-court stuff, run and jump, run and trap — stuff like that. We wanted to speed them up. We didn’t think they wanted to play that way and that’s how we want to play. We want to get up and down the floor.
“We were fortunate in that quarter to get steals and the tempo of the game was our tempo as far as up-tempo stuff. I thought our ability to speed them up was the key in that second quarter.”
Pembroke (21-1) made 6 of its 10 field goal attempts in the second quarter and shot 55.6 percent from the field (10 of 18) in the half. Kearsarge was 1 of 6 from the field in the second quarter, and 6 of 19 from the field in the half (31.6 percent).
“We really stepped up our defensive intensity in the second quarter,” Pembroke guard/forward Sean Menard said. “We made them take contested shots and that was really the difference in the game for us — that second quarter.”
Senior guard Noah Cummings, the Division II Player of the Year, led Pembroke with a game-high 18 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Menard tossed in 16 and was the only other player in the game who scored in double figures.
Kyle Hernon, Benjamin Carl and Tremblay each scored a team-high nine points for Kearsarge (13-9). Jallah led the Cougars with seven rebounds.
“If we could have that first half as a do-over it would be big in the sense of limiting fouls, and then the inability to score in that second quarter I thought just killed us,” Kearsarge coach Nate Camp said.
“To get in a hole like that … this team (Pembroke) is too good.”
It was Pembroke’s eighth Division II championship — the most of any school — and its first since it won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.
Kearsarge was 2 of 11 on 3-point attempts and shot 33.3 percent from the field in the game (14 of 42). The Cougars followed up their two-point second quarter by scoring seven points in the third and trailed 39-21 entering the fourth.
“We preach defending and rebounding every day in practice,” Otis said. “The kids pretty much defended all year like that. That’s how we play. That’s what we teach every day in practice and it got us a state championship.”