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Exeter High’s Kevin Henry celebrates Exeter’s win over Manchester Central in last week’s QCIBT.

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE piece of Exeter High’s run to the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament title was Kevin Henry.

The senior’s performance in the QCIBT title game rout of Manchester Central was something to marvel. He scored 29 points, including 18 in the second quarter, grabbed 10 rebounds and had three steals and two blocks. The do-it-all effort was on display in all three QCIBT games and left a lot of people asking one question: Who is Kevin Henry?

Despite Henry’s elite play, that’s not as crazy a question as you may think. Henry was a mere role player on a deep Exeter squad a year ago that was led by Cody and Josh Morissette. Josh Morissette was the talk of the town heading into his sophomore campaign this winter while Henry was expected to be a secondary producer as he moved to a starting role.

“I think last year I was a lot more nervous,” said Henry alluding to having to earn minutes last season as opposed to knowing his place this year. “The guys make me feel comfortable on the court. My shots are what the team gets me just like Josh’s are what the team gets him. It’s just what we build off of in practice and what we express on the court.”

Henry’s growth into a secure role has allowed his game to evolve. Instead of being passive or letting someone else shoulder the load, Henry is embracing opportunities to take over games at will. Henry scored 10 consecutive points during his second-quarter outburst against Central last Friday, which came after a stretch of nine straight points during the second quarter of Wednesday’s tournament win over Salem.

Henry’s 54 points over three days at the QCIBT is 21 points better than his regular-season total through three games. The scoring output in the tournament came off an assortment of team plays and individual moves, but Henry also generated second and third chances for himself with a knack for crashing the offensive glass.

“Kevin has that ability to find the ball and you can’t teach that,” Exeter coach Jeff Holmes said. “He’s an unbelievable kid that played great here and has for us all year. He’s your typical 6-foot-1, 140-pound power forward. He’s a stat stuffer too. Just all over the place.”

BG making it look easy

IT’S BOTH crazy and shocking that Sue Thomas’ tenure with the Bedford girls’ basketball team ended after losing to Bishop Guertin of Nashua by 32 points on Dec. 21. The shellacking was the latest addition to BG’s torment of Thomas-led teams over last four years, which includes two title game losses and a setback in last year’s semifinals.

The lopsided nature of this latest clash marked the first time BG had completely dismantled Bedford. The previous showdowns always went down to the wire, with the aforementioned playoff meetings each being decided by five points or fewer. The fact that Bedford couldn’t compete this time around might spell doom for the rest of D-I as it relates to title hopes.

There’s a lot of season left, but Bedford was expected to be one of the few teams that could give BG a run for its money come March. Making matters more perilous is that the Cardinals are averaging a 37-point margin of victory through their first three contests following Wednesday’s drubbing of Londonderry.

Beyond running teams out of the gym with their up-tempo style, BG is flourishing with scoring contributions across the board. Erin Carney, Bri Wilcox and Ava Owens are proven scorers dating back to last season, but the Cardinals are now seeing an uptick in scoring from players like Hannah Muchemore, Aaliyah Forman and Addi Smith.

“We are at our best when we’re getting pretty balanced scoring,” said BG coach Brad Kreick after the win over Bedford. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s great if someone can go off for 30. But our team thrives when we have three or four girls in the double figures.

“These kids work their tails off for us and I can’t begin to count the thousands and thousands of shots they took in the offseason. You see it in a game like this, where we shot the ball reasonably well, and it’s just a byproduct of that work ethic.”

Where there’s a Willeman ...

IF THE Lebanon High boys’ basketball team has any intentions of being the last team standing in Division II this season, then it might come down to the efforts of one player. That player is not Wade Rainey or Hunter Bienvenu or Logan Falzarano, who are known commodities.

The difference will be Jon Willeman.

“We’re talking about a kid with some great feel,” Lebanon coach Dave Faucher said. “Jon’s not an exceptional athlete. He’s thin with no real muscle definition. But the kid knows how to play, he’s savvy and he can really shoot it,”

Willeman came through with 21 points, including five 3-pointers, in Lebanon’s opening win over Bedford at the QCIBT. The 6-foot-2 swingman has a knack for corner jumpers and uses his lankiness to shoot over defenders. More importantly, Willeman shoots with conviction, which will be of great value in March if the Raiders can make it to the big stage in Durham.

Giant efforts

LIFE AFTER Samantha Will isn’t looking so bad for the Bishop Brady of Concord girls as the season gets going. The Green Giants proved as much with another Capital Area Holiday Tournament title on Sunday, beating John Stark of Weare at NHTI. It’s the third consecutive holiday crown and fourth in five years for Bishop Brady.

Graduating Will, now playing D-I college ball at Cornell, and crafty point guard Sarah Doherty left Bishop Brady’s status up in the air entering this season. Annie Alosa’s girls have responded to the challenge, though, working to a 3-1 regular-season mark prior to the holiday success.

Alleviating the burn of losing two stars is the emergence of two returning players. Ami Rivera and Kaylee Smith are offering regular and reliable scoring efforts, which showed with 26 and 21 points apiece in Sunday’s championship game. Marissa Payne and Libby Hicks are two others spurring Bishop Brady.


High School Basketball appears Fridays in the New Hampshire Union Leader during the season. To reach Joe Duball, e-mail jduball@unionleader.com.