Floras Leads Merrimack to Queen City Tournament Championship
by. Julia Maldonado
MANCHESTER, NH --- On Wednesday evening, the Manchester West Blue Knights and the Merrimack Tomahawks met in the Championship game of the 49th annual Queen City Invitational Boys’ Basketball Tournament. The game was a hard fought battle between the two Division I teams that ended in dramatic fashion as Merrimack came out on top 57-54.
Merrimack’s junior guard Dimitri Floras delivered the game-winning three pointer with 7.1 seconds left on the clock to give Merrimack the victory. Floras also took home tournament MVP honors for his efforts over the three day tournament.
Both teams utilized full court pressure from the start, which resulted in six turnovers for West and four for Merrimack in the first quarter alone. Despite the press, they were able to find looks at the basket and score on an even pace. Merrimack lead 13-12 after the first, lead by Floras’s 3 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds.
West responded in the second quarter by hitting three 3-pointers, two of which came from junior forward Jocarl Bureau. West also and outrebounded Merrimack 9-6 in the frame. With Merrimack trailing, Floras provided a surge of energy for his team by driving to the basket and finding open players and occasionally drawing fouls. Merrimack was able to close the gap to tow points heading into half time.
The third quarter featured something for both sets of fans at the Memorial High School gymnasium. Bureau and senior Aaron Martin made consecutive 3-pointers for West from opposite wings. That was quickly followed by a Tyler Gendron dunk that livened the opposing Merrimack crowd. Merrimack would take a five point lead going into the final quarter.
West tied the game with 5:31 remaining thanks to a Nolan Flynn 3-pointer. After that point both teams matched each other and traded leads back and forth. The pattern continued until Merrimack coach Tim Goodridge called a timeout with just under 10 seconds remaining in the game with his team down 52-54. After an unsuccessful inbounds play, Goodridge immediately used another timeout to draw up a new play, which unsurprisingly landed the ball in Dimitri Floras’s hands for a 3-pointer. Even with the championship game on the line, Floras took it upon himself to take the shot that would decide his team’s fate in the tournament.
“I wasn’t too worried (about the shot),” said Floras. “I just knew I had to get my hands on the ball at some point. I feel like my teammates and coaches thought the same, so once I got the ball in my hands, I got the look I wanted and hit it.”
The drama did not end there, as the Blue Knights’ final effort to the basket resulted in an offensive foul that all but deflated the Manchester West team that had fought from behind in the fourth quarter and looked confident going into the final stretch. Merrimack senior Tyler Gendron would make two late free throws to solidify the win for the Tomahawks.
The Tomahawks came out with a 57-54 win, their second against Manchester West in nine days, and claimed the title of champions of the 2011 Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Floras led the scoring for Merrimack with 20 points, followed by Tyler Gendron with 14, senior Jared Peabody with 8 and sophomore Eric Gendron with 7. The top scorers for Manchester West were Bureau with 19 points, sophomore guard Carl Jacques with 9, junior guard Travis Descoteaux with 7, and Martin and Flynn with 6 apiece.
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