Pembroke hangs on to beat Portsmouth

DURHAM – Pembroke Academy senior Pat Welch was nervous for a very brief moment in time as the Spartans’ once double-digit lead dwindled to just five (41-38) with 5:08 left in regulation.

That’s as close as Welch, who scored 15 points, and Kafani Williams, who had a game-high 22, would let Portsmouth get as the defending champion Spartans put an end to the Clippers’ rally and held on for a 49-40 win in the Division II boys basketball final in Lundholm Gymnasium on the campus of the University of New Hampshire.

“When it got down to five, I was like ‘Come on, guys. We can’t. We’ve got to D up,’ “ said Welch of the closing minutes. “I think we handled it well. We went into our full-court soft press and slowed them down a little bit, took some time off the clock and then got back on D to get in the zone so they couldn’t get their sets going.”

Pembroke opened the game on a 12-0 run and held a 20-11 lead after one quarter.

Neither team could muster double-digits in the second or third quarters as both scored eight in the second and Pembroke had a 9-8 edge in the third. Trailing by 10 (37-27) heading into the fourth quarter, Portsmouth – led by Donovan Phanor (15 points) and Pat Glynn (10) – made its move to cut the deficit in half before Pembroke pulled away and secured the win.

“Our players made a couple of big plays, which kind of got us that little bit of a cushion at the end of the game,” said Matt Alosa, who guided Pembroke to a second straight title. “All being said, I think our grip made enough plays to get it done.”