Division I boys basketball tourney can’t come soon enough

March Madness can’t come soon enough. No, this is not in reference to men’s college basketball.

March 4 is tip-off day for New Hampshire’s high school basketball tournaments. The three-week wait between now and that Tuesday’s first playoff game is certainly maddening.

Saturday afternoon in Manchester, spectators got an early taste of what’s to come in the Division I boys basketball postseason. Merrimack battled defending champion Trinity for four quarters of intense and entertaining basketball, which saw the Pioneers hold off the Tomahawks 62-57.

The Division I tournament, on the whole, is shaping up to be just as intense from the opening tip. With fast-paced and physical action expected, Division I is still up for grabs.

Case in point is Concord. The Crimson Tide’s 4-9 record made not be impressive to an outsider looking in, but one of those wins came against 12-2 Londonderry, currently tied for third in the standings with Merrimack.

If the tournament started right now, Concord would have the honor of opening with current No. 1 Manchester Central (14-0) as the 16th and final team to qualify. Undefeated as they are, the Little Green are not unbeatable.

Bedford (6-7) and Merrimack (12-2) both pushed Central to the brink before falling by three points – the Bulldogs falling 64-61 on Jan. 6 and the Tomahawks coming up short 62-59 on Jan. 27.

As was the case Saturday afternoon versus Trinity, Merrimack played a good portion of its loss to Central minus defending Gatorade New Hampshire Boys Basketball Player of the Year Eric Gendron. In fact on Saturday, the Tomahawks were doubly shorthanded with Gendron and Shayne Bourque in foul trouble early on.

With those two on the floor the entire game, a three- or five-point loss is just as easily a win. Such is the case up and down the Division I boys standings.

That said, the Little Green are the odds on favorite to win it all this winter. They will be a handful for sure, especially with the trio of Brett Hanson, Joey Martin and Jon Martin leading the way.

They are just three of the players to watch as March Madness approaches.

Locally, Greater Nashua is blessed with the Gendron-Bourque-Austin Franzen triumvirate in Merrimack; Nashua South’s fantastic foursome of Yordy Taverez, Michael Osgood, Vinny Ortolano and Trevor Knight; and Bishop Guertin’s dynamic duo of Joe Marandola and Kyle Gavin.

All three local teams are expected to be quarterfinal participants and should be seeded in the Top 8 come tourney time. Two, perhaps all three could be semifinal contestants.

Their college counterparts may try and hog the spotlight this March, but Granite State high schoolers will offer plenty of hard-court tournament entertainment as spring kicks off. Now it’s just a waiting game.

George Scione can be reached at 594-6520 or gscione@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Scione on Twitter (@Telegraph_BigG).