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Boys basketball state semifinals: Trinity hopes to 'get out and go' against Pinkerton

Mar. 4—Although the Trinity High School boys basketball team looked impressive in Division I tournament victories over Dover and Exeter, the team still has its biggest challenge ahead.

That challenge is top-seeded Pinkerton Academy and its star, 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward/center Jackson Marshall. Fifth-seeded Trinity (15-5) will meet Pinkerton (18-1) in Wednesday's semifinals at Exeter High School (7:30 p.m.).

Marshall tossed in 45 points when Pinkerton beat Trinity 81-61 in Manchester on Feb. 16. Trinity coach Ray Farmer looked like he bit into a lemon when he was asked about that loss.

"We're going to stick to the game plan, because the first time around it was abysmal," Farmer said. "We didn't follow the game plan with Jackson Marshall. This time, the game plan will be followed. The game plan will be executed much better than it was the first time around — and we're going to run them. We have to get out and go. I think we'll be better in transition this time around. Our (small) court doesn't help that. This court hopefully will."

Wednesday's first semifinal at Exeter will feature second-seeded Bedford (19-1) and third-seeded Nashua North (16-4). Luke Soden scored 23 points to help Bedford defeat 10th-seeded Alvirne 69-51 in the quarters. North received a 24-point effort from junior Parth Miglani and moved on by beating sixth-seeded Windham 70-60.

Bedford beat North 81-76 when the teams met in Bedford during the regular season. It was the second of four straight losses for the Titans, who enter Wednesday's matchup having won 12 in a row.

Bedford, which beat Pinkerton in last year's championship game, is attempting to become the first boys team to win back-to-back Division I championships since Portsmouth in 2017 and 2018. Pinkerton handed Bedford its only loss this season.

Miglani tossed in 36 and Soden scored 34 in the first meeting between the Bulldogs and Titans.

Trinity is 12-2 since starting the season 3-3. The Pioneers lack size, but anyone they put on the floor can score. They're also good at creating chaos with their pressure defense.

Trinity, which lost guard Kevin Dougherty to a knee injury late in the season, missed 12 free throws in its earlier loss to Pinkerton.

"We have to make sure we don't beat ourselves," Farmer said. "Our turnovers were extensive in that game, and our free throw shooting was abysmal. If we clean up those two things, on top of the game plan we're going to (use), it'll be a game."

Trinity received 23 points from Shawn O'Neil and 17 from both DeVohn Ellis and Jordan Torres in Saturday's 78-65 victory over fourth-seeded Exeter.

"DeVohn Ellis is a difference-maker," Exeter coach Jeff Holmes said. "He's a leader. He's smart. Plays defense and we couldn't stop him offensively."

Marshall collected the 2,000th point of his high school career during Saturday's 101-83 victory over eighth-seeded Nashua South. He finished that game with 41 points.

Marshall is one of 18 NHIAA players (male and female) who have scored 2,000 points in high school, and the second Division I player to reach that milestone. Concord's Matt Bonner had 2,459 points during his career.

Holmes on Trinity's chances against Pinkerton:

"Trinity's gonna be able to score," he said. "They're gonna have to shoot well, obviously. They're going to have a hard time stopping Marshall, but if they can shoot it well and create some turnovers ...

"The bottom line is, Can they contain Marshall? They can't let him get 45, which he could."

Tuesday's Division II semifinals

No. 2 Hanover vs. No. 3 Pembroke

5:30 p.m., Oyster River High School

Points will be at a premium in this matchup since 17 of Hanover's 19 opponents have failed to score more than 36 points. The Bears (18-1) have won 17 in a row since a 35-32 loss to Merrimack Valley on Dec. 15. That includes a 53-31 victory over Pembroke.

Pembroke (18-2) is seeking a return trip to the Division II championship game. The Spartans dropped a 57-54 decision to Pelham in last year's final. Pembroke advanced to the semifinals by beating 14th-seeded Oyster River 62-49 in the first round, and 11th-seeded Merrimack Valley 54-47 in the quarterfinals. Hanover earned a first-round bye and beat seventh-seeded Bow 51-34 in the quarterfinals.

No. 1 Pelham vs. No. 4 Coe-Brown

7:30 p.m., Oyster River High School

Pelham (18-1) is attempting to become the first Division II boys team to capture consecutive titles since Pembroke in 2013 and 2014. Pelham's lone loss this season was a 55-54 setback against Pembroke on Jan. 5.

Pelham beat Coe-Brown (16-4) 63-51 in the second game of the regular season for each team. The Bears were within three points late in the fourth quarter before Pelham pulled away.

The Pythons had a first-round bye, and beat eighth-seeded Sanborn 68-49 in the quarterfinals. Coe-Brown reached the semifinals by defeating 13th-seeded Kingswood (58-55) in the first round and 12th-seeded Kennett (69-41) in the quarterfinals.

rbrown@unionleader.com