PORTSMOUTH — The first basket sophomore Coleman Brewster scored Tuesday was a 3-pointer during a first quarter that saw his Portsmouth High School boys basketball team give up more points than it wanted to.
The last basket he scored was another 3, during a series of third-quarter exclamation points that gave the Clippers plenty more points than they needed.
Two-time defending champion Portsmouth (3-2) is above .500 for the first time this season after pulling away from Manchester Memorial, 80-36, at Stone Gym. Alex Tavares scored 30 points, his third big game in a row, and the team locked down defensively after a dodgy start.
“They kind of confused us with their spread-out offense early in the game,” said junior Calvin Hewett, who scored 11 points and was one of four Clippers to make three 3s. “We lost them a lot. We had to do better, just like last week against Dover when (Ty) Vitko had all their points in the beginning. We’ve got to get better at that.”
If Tavares and Hewett are the known quantities for a team that has won a state title in each of the last three years, guys like the ball-handling Brewster are the emerging ones. He finished with 18 points, including three 3s, and helped lead the charge after a close opening period.
“Coleman played great tonight,” said Portsmouth coach John Mulvey. “He plays the point guard position, which helps us move Cal off the ball and we become stronger offensively. He’s strong with the ball, can hit the 3 and hit the pull-up, and he’s getting better on defense every day.”
Brewster, who played on the JV team last year, is one of a half-dozen players seeing big minutes for the first time. His dribbling against pressure is his biggest asset, allowing the 6-foot-1 Hewett, the team’s best returning ball-handler, to play on the wing.
“It’s really nice having Coleman,” said Hewett. “He’s a true point guard. It’s nice on all of us. It sets up a lot for our offense.”
Jack Fitzgerald led Memorial (0-5) with 17 points. Most of them came from the four 3s he hit in the opening quarter, two at the end pulling his young team to within 20-14.
“That was addressed,” said Mulvey. “We talked about (Fitzgerald) before the game, we talked about him during the game and he just found his way open. A lack of communication on the defensive end from our part, but we tightened it up after that and made the other guys the shooters.”
The Crusaders, a 13-win team a year ago that graduated just about every key player, fell back in the second quarter. A 10-2 run dropped them into a 30-16 hole early, though two straight hoops from forward Alex McGandy made it 30-20 — and got them above the 19 points they were held to against Winnacunnet on Friday.
But it was 36-20 at the break, and the Clippers kept shooting and making, dropping in a dozen 3-pointers as they turned the game into a romp.
“We take a lot of good shots in warm-ups, and all week in practice,” said Brewster. “That’s kind of our game. If we can hit our 3s, it’s pretty tough for teams to guard us.”
“The 3 is big in our offense, as it’s always been,” said Mulvey. “When we knock them down, those 3s add up quickly.”
Portsmouth jumps into the deep end of the pool from here, playing at undefeated Salem (5-0) on Friday. That’s followed by games against Spaulding (3-1) and Manchester Central (3-2). But Tuesday was another step forward.
“We made adjustments,” said Mulvey. “We were a little bit slow early but we picked it up. We just want to get better every day.”
CLIPPERS 80, CRUSADERS 36
Clark 1-0-3, Fitzgerald 6-0-17, Hargis 1-0-2, McGandy 2-0-4, Sebo 2-0-4, Berry 1-0-3, Owusu 1-0-3. Totals: 14-0-36.
Hewett 4-0-11, Boutin 1-0-2, Brewster 6-3-18, Tavares 8-11-30, Paradis 2-0-4, Vangel 0-2-2, Weir 1-0-2, Cummings 3-0-9, Ritzo 1-0-2. Totals: 26-16-80.
Memorial 14 6 10 6—36
Portsmouth 20 16 26 18—80
3-point goals—Memorial 8 (Fitzgerald 5, Clark, Berry, Owusu), Portsmouth 12 (Brewster 3, Tavares 3, Cummings 3, Hewett 3). Prelim—Portsmouth JVs, 63-45.