Ready to roll
Each year, when the high school boys basketball season comes to an end, there’s typically someone, whether it’s in print or on a message board or on the air waves, who laments the fact that the state’s Division I and II champions don’t get a chance to see who is the best on the floor.
But Dave Haley remembers a time when it did happen, just no one knew it at the time.
Before the start of the 2010-11 season, Jim Migneault took his Bishop Guertin team out to Milford to scrimmage the D-II defending champions. A few fans found out about it and perhaps the best-attended exhibition took place in the Spartans’ gym.
And in mid-March, the Cardinals and the Spartans were crowned champions of their respective divisions.
“The most talked about game that season was a scrimmage,” said Haley, the founder and editor of NHSportsPage.com. “Each side had varying stories about who won, but people were intrigued about the Division I and II champs squaring off.”
So when Kevin Bonney, the former Alvirne boys coach, approached Haley last summer about starting up a preseason basketball jamboree, he jumped at the idea.
“His idea was to have a jamboree to raise money for a New Hampshire charity,” Haley said. “We had a meeting and expanded the idea to what teams it would include and the format and who would play whom.”
On Friday and Saturday, Alvirne High School will play host to the first Coaches For a Cause Jamboree, the proceeds of which will go to New Horizons for New Hampshire, a Manchester-based shelter, food pantry and soup kitchen.
A total of 16 teams will play in eight games – three Friday and five Saturday – highlighted by a matchup of Trinity and Pembroke, last year’s D-I and II champions.
Also involved will be Migneault’s Cardinals, who will play Bishop Brady at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
“It should be fun,” Migneault said of the event. “It will be interesting. You’ll have the smaller schools come out and play hard. They’ll want to prove something and the bigger schools don’t want to get beat by them. It’s for a good cause and if they keep doing it, I’ll keep going.”
That was the sentiment of all the coaches Haley contacted for the jamboree, as all the teams they asked will be participating.
“The funny part is we had coaches asking why they weren’t included,” Haley said. “We did the best we could.”
The jamboree will feature eight teams from Division I – Trinity, Bishop Gueritn, Merrimack, Alvirne, Manchester Central, Spaulding, Salem, Bedford – taking on eight teams from Divisions II and III. The games will begin Friday at 5 p.m. with Salem and Windham.
On Thursday, the Merrimack players and coach Tim Goodridge will make a trip to New Horizons.
“We’re honored to go up there and do that,” said Goodridge, whose team will play Pelham in the final game Friday. “I like the whole concept of giving the smaller schools a chance to compete against the larger schools.”
Alvirne will get things going at noon on Saturday against Newport, one of two D-III teams in the jamboree.
Spaulding and Lebanon will play in the second game Saturday and Bedford and Portsmouth will follow in a rematch of the 2012 D-II championship game. The final two games will match Central against perennial D-III contender Conant and Trinity against Pembroke.
Haley had two concerns during the early stages of planning – getting approval from the NHIAA and crowd size.
“The NHIAA worked with us,” he said. “That was quickly worked out. The kids can’t wear their regular-season jerseys, but they’ll have practice jerseys.
“My concern going into the weekend is that we’ll sell out and have to turn people away, but if that’s the biggest problem, it’s a good problem to have. Expect big crowds, especially for those last three games.”