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Drolet out at Noble: Hockey coach feels his firing was unjustified

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Drolet out at Noble: Hockey coach feels his firing was unjustified

By MIKE WHALEY
sports@fosters.com
Article Date: Friday, March 14, 2008

NORTH BERWICK, Maine — With one practice and one game to go in the 2007-08 Maine high school boys ice hockey season, Mike "Howie" Drolet was fired as head coach of the Noble High School team.

Drolet, who had coached the team for seven of its eight years of existence, said his firing was unjustified and suggested that the administration may have bent to parental pressure. This was Noble's fourth year as a recognized varsity program.

For the administration's part, Noble principal Joe Findlay said he could not comment and deferred to athletic director Eric Wirsing. Wirsing said last week, "It was a personnel matter; something we had to deal with."

Wirsing coached the team for the final practice and game and said the position will be posted in the near future.

"All year long I felt an undercurrent of negativity," said Drolet, 36, a resident of Rochester, N.H., and a 1989 graduate of Spaulding High School. "There were people politicking behind the scenes to get me removed."

Drolet said a spokesman for the parents had questioned him via e-mail during the season and he claimed he answered that e-mail. But the latest complaints against him by parents went directly to Findlay, said Drolet, bypassing himself and Wirsing. On Feb. 11, the last week of the regular season, he said he was e-mailed by Wirsing that he needed to meet with Wirsing and Findlay to go over a list of complaints by parents. He was also told he was not to have contact with his team until the matter was resolved.

"It was a small group during the season, maybe two or three," said Drolet. "All year they beat the bushes, enough to get more support."

Drolet said he went to the principal's office on Feb. 11 to meet with both Findlay and Wirsing. He said it was the first time he had met Findlay, who was new to the district having been hired over the summer of 2007. Wirsing is in his first year as athletic director.

"They read off the complaints and let me answer them," said Drolet. "But it was pretty clear they had made up their minds. They were bound and determined that I was to go — so it didn't matter what I said."

Drolet said he was told it was a group of 12 parents who filed the complaints, but he was not given a breakdown. He was basically told by Findlay that parents had made the comment that they were not going to let their kids skate for Drolet anymore.

Drolet said that all but two players had showed up for morning practice that day, so he questioned that particular comment.

He said he was then told by Findlay that the best thing to do would be to have Wirsing finish up the year as coach before it goes any further.

Drolet said the list of complaints were as follows: Coach doesn't teach during games. Coach is always negative. Coach leaves practice early. Coach doesn't follow team rules. Coach uses inappropriate language.

Drolet said coaches manage during a game and do not teach, using practices and time between periods to teach.

"That complaint is coming from people who don't coach and are not in education," Drolet said. "Game time is not the best time to teach."

As to being negative, Drolet said, "It's false. If they play well I tell them they played well. If they played poorly I tell them they played poorly."

Drolet teaches at Nute Middle School in Milton, N.H., where he is in his eighth year as a seventh-grade social studies teacher. He has coached varsity baseball at Nute High School since 1994 and has been the head coach since 2003. Drolet has coached high school sports in some capacity since 1992. He said he has been named coach of the positive behavior management program at Nute, which is being implemented this year.

"I find it hard to believe Nute would put someone in charge of a positive behavior management program who is always negative," he said.

Drolet said of the charge of leaving practice early that he does have to leave five minutes early to get to his job in Milton. The practices are from 6 to 6:45 a.m. at the Rochester (N.H.) Ice Arena and he leaves at 6:40 to make it to school by 7. He leaves the team in the hands of his assistant coach, his brother, Glen Drolet, a lieutenant in the Northwood (N.H.) Police Department.

"My assistant stays until all guys have left the arena," Drolet said. "They are never left unsupervised. It's not even a valid argument."

Drolet disagreed with that complaint that the coach doesn't follow team rules. He said parents wanted a team captain removed as a captain after an altercation with another player at school. Drolet felt the school handled the matter poorly and that the four-day suspensions handed out to both players were enough in his mind. He said each player missed one game and two practices and he felt it unnecessary to take any further action.

Drolet was also accused of using inappropriate language. He said he has used "ass" and "hell," but that he doesn't use them very often. "I use hell mostly positive and not very often," he said.

He said there was an incident at Westbrook where after the game he asked his brother to read the team the riot act after not playing well. "He gave it to them. It was nothing derogatory, but he told them if they didn't want to be here and didn't want to give the effort, then stop showing up. It was loud, but not demeaning or derogatory."

Drolet said it got back to parents and then to the AD. Drolet said Wirsing called the Westbrook AD who was outside the locker room and, according to Drolet, the AD told Wirsing it was loud, but he did not hear any profane language.

Drolet felt some of the complaints were "out and out fabrications" and some "were twisted to suit their arguments." And he felt the timing of the whole removal was terrible.

"I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that to remove somebody with a practice and a game remaining just sends a really bad message," said Drolet. "and it looks like something really bad happened to act immediately. I don't think any of these things were serious where they couldn't have talked about it at the end of the season. These things just don't seem like they're that serious."

Drolet surmised that a lot of this could have been avoided had he hired a parent or two to help out with the team. He didn't want to do that, but he feels that, too, was one of the (parents) major bones of contention.

"I don't feel I did anything wrong, not at all," he added. "And if you don't want to take my word for it, OK — but investigate it a little bit. Talk to every player. Talk to my assistant, who was in the locker room at the time. Talk to the trainer. Talk to the people who were around all the time to see if this is what you are hearing.

"That's what I would have expected," Drolet said. "These things are so minor. I don't see why they couldn't have been addressed at the end of the year. These are the concerns. It was a question of keeping the program going, we don't want these people to leave. They boxed (administration) into a corner. Instead of standing behind your employee, they did the easy thing, which was to get rid of me and pacify this group of people and move on."

St. John’s gets wish / Basketball Preview

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

St. John’s gets wish / Basketball Preview   
By Dan Ventura  
Friday, March 14, 2008  
http://www.bostonherald.com  
 

Shortly after his team scrimmaged Central Catholic in December, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) coach Bob Foley remembers the last thing he said before leaving.

“I told (Central Catholic coach) Rick Nault that we’d love to see you again, even though I know the chances are small,” Foley said. “But I did see him before his game with BC High in the Garden and reminded him of that.”

Central rallied to dethrone BC High, while St. John’s defeated Longmeadow to earn the right to compete for the Division 1 state title tomorrow night (7:30) at the DCU Center in Worcester.

The Pioneers (21-6) boast a balanced scoring attack, led by 6-foot-9 junior center Matt LaBove at 15 points a game. Freshman forward Richard Rodgers has been the high man in two tournament games, while junior Anthony Trapasso and sophomores David White and Chad LaBove are solid.

The glue to the team is senior John Perron. Whatever St. John’s has needed during the season, Perron has provided.

LaBove is generally the tallest man on the floor, though he will have company tomorrow as Central Catholic (24-2) features 6-9 Carson Desrosiers and 6-6 Adrian Gonzalez. Billy Marsden is the key offensive weapon in the backcourt, while Wilfredo Pagan runs the show.

The Div. 2 final (4 p.m.) is a rematch from last year as Tantasqua seeks its second straight undefeated season (49 consecutive wins) at the hands of Catholic Memorial. The Warriors upset the Knights, 64-58, a year ago, though coach Jeff Child isn’t expecting an easy go of it.

“They didn’t get any slower this year,” Child said. “They are an all-around great team. The strength is in the backcourt with (Brendan) Monteiro and (Jeff) Tagger. Even the big guys can run the floor.”

Tantasqua is led by 6-6 senior center Brian Vayda (23 ppg). The other starters, guards Marcus Gaudet and Brandon Fourcier and forwards Ryan White and Dan Kemp, average around nine points a game.

In the Div. 3 final (12:30 p.m.), Scituate takes on Frontier Regional. The Red Hawks (23-1) rallied from a 17-point deficit to defeat Bromfield in the semifinals. Forward Brian Clark leads the team in scoring at 22.6, while guard Jamie Bell and forward Dan Clark have been solid in the tournament.

Scituate also fought off a double-digit deficit to take down Watertown in the other semifinal. The Sailors have plenty of size with 6-9 Sean McCarthy and 6-6 Blaine O’Brien as well as 6-10 Andrew McCarthy off the bench. Rodney Beldo and Sam Malone form a top-notch backcourt, and Keith Fleury is solid.

In the opening game (10:45 a.m.), Archbishop Williams (21-2) looks to defend its Div. 3 girls title against perennial power Quaboag. The Bishops have an all-senior backcourt in Christine Duffy and Casey Capello, and sophomore center Valerie Driscoll is a force in the paint.

Quaboag is seeking its third state championship in five years. A youthful team, the players to watch for the Cougars (24-1) are junior center Meaghan O’Keefe (the younger sister of former Quaboag stars Reilly and Kelsey O’Keefe) and sophomore guards Meghan Burns and Olivia Jankins.

Wellesley (22-3) will seek its first girls hoop title when it takes on Millbury in the Div. 2 final (2:15). The Raiders ousted defending champion Lincoln-Sudbury in the semifinals behind guards Mary Louise Dixon and Blake Dietrick and forwards Jesse Miller and Lindsay Sydness.

Millbury (20-3) is keyed by a trio of underclassmen in freshman swingman Julie Frankian, sophomore forward Chelsea Perkins and junior guard Cailin Burnett.

In the Div. 1 title game (5:45), Andover (23-3) faces Northampton. Unlike the other two games, there is plenty of experience on both sides as the Golden Warriors look to the trio of Meghan Thomann, Laura Renfro and Lauren Hughes.

Northampton (22-2) is led by senior guards Jamie Messer and Iris Santoni and junior forwards Alannah Driscoll-Sbar and Casey Sicard.

BOUNCE PASSES: Trio of teams suffer wild, season-ending losses

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

BOUNCE PASSES: Trio of teams suffer wild, season-ending losses
By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer

Five girls basketball teams on the North Shore entered the postseason with visions of North sectional titles, dribbling balls on the parquet of the TD Banknorth Garden, and hoisting a state championship trophy. Three of those three teams went home early, exiting in unusual fashion.

How often do you see a rain delay in a tournament basketball game? Well, Masconomet suffered through three of them in its 43-38 loss to Lincoln Sudbury in a Division 2 North semifinal game.

What about timeouts that wipe out game-winning 3-pointers? Ipswich coach Mandy Zegarowski would love to have that call back, but she'd much rather have the 3-plus seconds that inexplicably disappeared from the clock when play resumed in her team's 52-51 Division 3 North first round loss to Watertown.

And how do you think Swampscott, a team that has won 60 games over the last three years, feels about not being able to beat Pentucket? For the second straight year it was the Sachems who bounced the Big Blue from the Division 3 dance, this time a 60-53 decision in the semis.

Masconomet coach Bob Romeo had already watched the tape of the final seconds of Ipswich's tournament loss on YouTube, and he had to be thinking he entered the Twilight Zone when the tipoff for his game with Lincoln-Sudbury was delayed 30 minutes while towels were duct-taped to the ceiling to remedy a leaky roof at Lowell High School.

"I felt bad for the seniors on both teams," Romeo said. "As the game's going on, they're sitting in a rain delay thinking that it could be their last game."

Although it wasn't raining in the Ipswich High School gym when Watertown came to visit, the Tigers had to feel like the roof had caved in on them.

Lyndsay French hit a three just as Zegarowski was calling a timeout. By all accounts the clock should have been stopped with more than three seconds left. Instead, the Tigers were left with 0.3 seconds showing. Amber Smith hit a jumper on the ensuing inbounds play, but it's impossible to catch-and-shoot with that little time remaining.

As a result, Ipswich didn't get the chance to play in the second round against Winthrop, a team that beat Ipswich on a long buzzer-beater in the tournament two years ago.

Swampscott, meanwhile, didn't suffer a heart-breaking loss in the tournament, and the pain doesn't necessarily rest in the loss to Pentucket, but the fact that the Sachems aren't going anywhere. The Big Blue have their top three scorers returning in Tara Nimkar, Allie Beaulieu, and Kara Gilberg.

Pentucket, which just lost to Archbishop Williams in the Eastern Mass. final, has everyone returning.

"I don't think I'm mistaken when I say that we've lost six games in the last two years and three of them have been to Pentucket," Swampscott coach Jack Hughes said.

Clearly the Big Blue have to find a way to overcome Pentucket if they are going to win a North championship in the near future.

nnn

You could make a legitimate case for any of those three games to fill the "Worst Game of the Year" category, especially the Masco and Ipswich losses, but before we neatly pack basketball away for the next eight months, it's time to hand out some positive awards.

Whatever you can do, I can do better ... or, at least as well Award — Ipswich's Lyndsay French, who moved into a 10th-place tie on Ipswich's all-time wins list with 58 total victories. She joins her mother, Nancy (Campus) French, who played for Kiki Papagiotis.

Let's skip the offseason and get back at it Award — Beverly coach Matt Smith. The Panthers struggled through the first half of the season, but got smoking hot down the stretch. The truly great part for Smith is that Beverly is returning seven key players from this winter's team.

The stats don't tell the story Award — Masconomet's Annie Burns. If you never saw Burns play, you missed the chance to watch an athlete play the game the right way. Burns barely hit double figures for a scoring average as a senior, but she could quietly dominate a game with her ability to handle the ball, distribute to her teammates, and dig in on the defensive end.

If wins were given for positive energy, we'd be undefeated Award — Maureen Robinson and North Shore Tech. The Bulldogs struggled through a winless season, but no matter how many points her team lost by, Robinson always managed to put a positive spin on things. North Shore also raised enough money to buy soccer uniforms for a school team in Tela, Honduras.

The sharp-dressed coaches Award — The Peabody coaching staff. The Tanners coaches wear matching navy and university blue rugby shirts, a welcomed change from the typical shirt-and-tie or golf shirt look.

I can't wait for next year Award — Amber Smith, Ipswich. Smith easily eclipsed 1,000 points early in her junior year. She currently stands at 1,337 points after averaging 22.2 this season to go with 11.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. She accumulated 19 double-doubles in 21 games this season. With increased production in each of her first three seasons, it's scary to think how good she'll be next year.

Bounce Passes, a column on North Shore girls' basketball, runs every Friday during the winter sports season in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Matt Jenkins at 978-338-2648 or by e-mail at mjenkins@ecnnews.com

Scituate faces a tall order in Frontier at Div. 3 State Championship Game.

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Scituate faces a tall order in Frontier at Div. 3 State Championship Game.
By Jason Dachman
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 14, 2008 @ 03:15 AM
SCITUATE —

If the Scituate boys basketball team is going to bring home the first Div. 3 state championship in school history, they will have get through the Big Three from Frontier.

On Saturday, the Sailors (23-2) will face their greatest challenge yet when Frontier Regional (23-1) trots out the lethal trio of Brian Clark, Dan Clark and Jamie Bell for the Div. 3 sate championship game at the DCU center in Worcester.

In the Clarks, Frontier boasts identical twin 6-4 senior forwards who could not be told apart if it wasn’t for their differing styles of play. Brian is a solid low-post force who primarily mans the paint, averaging a team-high 22.3 points and 10 rebounds per game. Dan Clark (14.6 ppg, six rpg.) is the team’s chief three-point threat and spends most of his time on the wing.

“Obviously we know (Scituate) has great size, but we like the our big guys’ athleticism,” Red Hawks coach Marty Sanderson. “They are not just back-to-the-basket players, they’re complete players.”

The Clark brothers will be strapped with the task of containing the Sailors’ towering front line of center Sean McCarthy (6-9), power forward Blain O’Brien (6-6) and top reserve Andrew McCarthy (6-10).

“(Ryan Clark) is nice long player with a lot of heart,” Scituate coach Matt Poirier said. “I get the sense that the big guys bring a lot of experience, and we know that we have to contest everything right from the tip-off.”

Bell completes the triumvirate and is a lock for 18 points per game as a top-notch slasher into the paint and reliable outside shooter. His striking speed and 6-1 build also can also create serious match-up problems on the perimeter for opposing teams.

“He just knows how to score,” Sanderson said of his senior guard. “Jamie Bell has been very consistent for us for a long time.”

In the second to last game of the regular season against Hampshire, Bell and Ryan Clark surpassed the 1,000 career point mark on the same evening. Bell currently sits at 1183 career points and Clark has 1151 total.

Even with two 1000-point scorers, Frontier is remains one of the top defensive squads in Western Mass., allowing only 47.9 points per game during the regular season, third best in the Western Mass.

The key for Frontier may be the return of junior point guard Gary Grandonico, who sprained his ankle for the second time in the final game of the regular season. He has returned over the last three tournament games and steadily improved. Along with Bell and reserve guard Brennan McKenna, Grandonico will be asked to contain the trio of Rodney Beldo, Sam Malone and Keith Fluery. The three have excelled in the postseason and are poised to continue their hot play on Saturday.

“There are two things we’re going to have to do,” Sanderson said. “First is take their guards driving lines away. Their tremendous in the lanes and we have to limit their ability to get to the rim. Second thing is to keep their big guys away from the basket on rebounds.”

After a five-day layoff, both squads are chomping at the bit to hit the floor on Saturday. Said Poirier, “They’ve never been more ready to get out there. I wish they could play today. We’ve studied (Frontier) as much as you possibly could in the time we’ve had, maybe even too much. I know both teams just want to get on the floor.”

Jason Dachman may be reached at jdachman@ledger.com.

Coaching through the pain Central's Nault whirlwind schedule includes teaching, coaching and helping his sons get well

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Coaching through the pain Central's Nault whirlwind schedule includes teaching, coaching and helping his sons get well
By Bill Burt
Staff Writer

LAWRENCE — If not for the large crucifix hanging high above the basketball court and the occasional clergyman who strolls by to check out the commotion, you might confuse what was happening at Central Catholic's famed gymnasium from 3:30 to 5 p.m. with "90 minutes of hell."

Boot camp might be a better description as coaches, sounding more like drill instructors, all yelling at once, oftentimes for different reasons.

Bodies are not only flying, but they're colliding. One player, junior Rory Blinn, was rubbing his neck after taking an elbow on one end. Two minutes later he was lying on the floor, head down, following a collision near the basket, moaning.

Sympathy was nowhere to be found.

"Get up!" shouted Central Catholic boys basketball coach Ricky Nault, guessing correctly that there were no broken bones.

Fouls? In almost any other gym in America, absolutely.

But not here. Not with Coach Nault around.

Nault never played football, but Central football coach Chuck Adamopoulos, standing on the sidelines of Central's Wednesday practice in preparation of their Division 1 state championship game against St. John's of Shrewsbury tomorrow night at the DCU Center in Worcester, admits he has nothing over his basketball peer.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Adamopoulos, whose son Zak is a junior forward for the Raiders. "Everybody's banging into everybody. And nobody is complaining or whining. I love this. Ricky's been here only two years, but you would think he's been here 20 years. He's the best."

Nault, 36, has only kept his promise, which wasn't too descriptive when he took the job in June 2006.

"I'm not an offensive guy or a defensive guy. I'm an effort guy," he said the day he was hired. "When someone walks in the gym and sees us play, I want them to say, Wow! I want them to see that our guys work their tails off."

The last three Central wins — Charlestown, Lowell and B.C. High — have something in common. Central appeared, at least on the scoreboard, to be in trouble.

The team and coaches knew otherwise.

"We know that the fourth quarter is our quarter," said senior Adrian Gonzalez, who will be playing for Division 2 power Bentley next year. "Nobody practices like we do. Nobody. The games are easy compared to practices. The games are fun."

...

Monday night was special for Nault.

His wife, Nichole, got to see first-hand, what everyone in the Merrimack Valley has been talking about when the Central defeated B.C. High, 54-44, at the TD Banknorth Garden.

She has been busy most of the other big games. She has been basically living the in intensive care unit at Children's Hospital in Boston, caring for their son, Avery, who turns 2 in May.

Avery has mitochondrial disease, the same disease his 5-year-old brother, Isaiah, has.

In a nutshell, this disease is both debilitating and devastating. Isaiah can't walk, talk or get up on his own. Avery's motor skills are a little better, but he's been in the hospital for nearly half of the last six months battling respiratory problems, particularly pneumonia.

"I can't tell you what it meant to have Nicky at the game," said Nault, referring to his wife. "Here I am going through one of the greatest thrills in life and she's in the hospital every night taking the burden off me. The funny thing is she is more nervous than I am for these games."

He doesn't go out of his way to talk about his boys' illness.

"It's not something we put out there," said Nault, whose oldest daughter Janessa is 7. "We hate the idea of people feeling sorry or pitying us. To be very honest, my wife and I are grateful for what we have. We believe we've been put in this situation for a reason.

"Do we wish our boys were healthy?" he said. "Of course. But I've never looked at it that way. We are grateful for the time we have with them."

...

Even those who hold Central in disdain, and there are many in the Merrimack Valley, find it tough to root against Nault.

A French Canadian, Nault grew up on the Tower Hill side of Haverhill Street, the only white kid among hundreds of Hispanics.

Apparently, hockey was never an option.

"My family was never really into sports," said Nault. "It wasn't until I was in fourth grade and joined the Lawrence Boys Club, that I even shot my first basketball. (Boys Club coordinator) Steve Kelley was the fourth grade coach and I thought he was crazy. But I remember liking basketball from the first moment. I was hooked."

The club became his home away from home and basketball became his ticket out of any potential trouble.

"I loved the game too much to mess around," said Nault. "And the guys at the club, particularly Steve Kelley, were important role models for me."

Nault's decision to attend Central, he feels, was the most important of his life.

"It's an incredible place because, like the club, it feels like home," said Nault. "It was a great school, but more importantly, it was great to be around so many talented people. It's like we're all a family."

...

Dick Licare certainly left his imprint on Central.

"He helped put the school on the map as a power in this state," said Nault, who later played at Worcester State, where he was a captain his senior season. "I loved playing for him. He knew the game as well as any coach I know. And he got us to play defense."

When Licare announced his resignation, the names, some of them big, were astounding.

Central grads Dave Fazio (Andover High) and the great Leo Parent (Pentucket Regional), who were both successful local coaches, and famed Salem (Mass.) High and Charlestown High coach Jack O'Brien were some of the names bandied about. Nault was a longshot.

While he had no head coaching experience, he was a junior varsity coach and assistant under Licare for six years. Better yet, he was a Central alum.

"I told them at the interview that this was the only job I wanted," he recalled. "If Dickie had stayed for 20 more years, I could have stayed with him. That's how much I love this place."

While it appeared to be a gamble going with the inexperienced Nault over some behemoths in the Massachusetts high school basketball landscape, those who knew Nault best figured it wasn't such a gamble.

"I loved him when I was a freshman and he was coaching the JVs," said junior Billy Marsden. "He was just like he is now. He was all over us about the little things. He was very demanding, but he was fair. I never played as hard as I did my freshman year."

Nault's talent, as he has oft-noted, was not X's and O's, it was his ability to deal with kids.

"Ricky went to Central. He grew up in Lawrence. He went to the Boys Club," said Central assistant coach Tom Sipsey, one of three assistants who are also alums. "He can talk to these kids like nobody else can. He relates to them unlike any coach I've ever seen. It really is special."

...

Nault says nothing has changed since when he took over one of the highest profile coaching positions in the state.

He wants to stay here until he is old.

"A friend of mine from the western part of the state said, 'Ricky, are you going to coach some college after the state championship?' " said Nault. "I told him, 'No chance.' This is where I want to be.

"We have a great family. We have a great house in Methuen. We have so many people that care about us around here. But you know what? I owe a lot of it to Central Catholic. They gave me the opportunity. I don't want to be anywhere else. I am happy with my life. I love this team. I really do."

Tomorrow night, Nault's life, will get a lot more exciting and a lot more hectic.

In fact, it is a lot like his practices, fury and stability, all rolled into one.

"Our personality is a lot like Ricky's," said assistant John Sexton. "We are all over the place. We play with a lot of emotion. We play in-your-face all game long. But you know what? There is no panic, just like Ricky. He never panics.

"So when we're down in the first half or even the third quarter, there is no shouting or yelling," said Sexton. "Ricky asks for our advice and we give it. Then he makes his decision and the guys believe in him. He's an incredible coach. He's an incredible person."

Bill Burt is a sports writer at The Eagle-Tribune. E-mail him at bburt@eagletribune.com

Mirror images Northampton, Andover have a lot in common

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Mirror images Northampton, Andover have a lot in common
By Dave Dyer
Staff Writer

On different days this week, veteran Northampton girls coach Tom Parent and Andover's Jim Tildsley, who will face each other at the DCU Center in Worcester in the Division 1 state finals at 5:45 p.m. tomorrow, had exactly the same feeling.

"They're a lot like us in just about every way," said Parent, who was at TD Banknorth Garden Tuesday to watch the Golden Warriors (23-3) manhandle New Bedford, 61-34, in the Eastern Massachusetts final. "We're both solid on defense and have kids who can shoot the three."

The next night, Tildsley was on hand at the Mullins Center in Amherst to watch the Blue Devils (23-2) take apart Westboro, 56-38, and his impression was almost identical.

"They're very similar to us," said Tildsley. "All of their starters can score, they play well together as a team and they play good defense."

When asked if he could compare Northampton to any of Andover's opponents, Tildsley thought for a moment and then replied, "I can only compare them to us."

There are definitely a lot of similarities.

Northampton, like Andover, generally goes with a six-player rotation, it boasts balanced scoring (each team has three players averaging in double figures) and it prides itself on defense.

Thanks to a stifling man-to-man defense, Northampton has allowed only one team all year to reach 50 points against it and only two have scored in the 40s. Everyone else has been in the 30s.

"I think our strong point is defense," said Parent. "We're very athletic and teams have had trouble getting to the basket against us."

Hampshire Gazette sports writer Jim Pignatello, who has seen a number of Northampton's games, agrees that the Blue Devils excel on defense.

"It's more of a defensive team, but a really good one," said Pignatello. "Their point guard, Jenny Bell, is really quick and it all revolves around her."

Bell, a 5-foot-9 junior, averages 12.8 points a game, the same as 5-11 junior forward Alannah Driscoll-Sbar. The other starters are all seniors who plan to continue their basketball careers in college. They are 6-foot center Brighid Courtney (10.6), 5-6 guard Iris Santoni (7.5) and 5-8 guard Jamie Messer (8.1), the latter of whom is the team's top 3-point threat.

The three seniors are headed to Brandeis, St. Lawrence and Rollins, respectively.

This will be the second trip to the state final for Parent (363-178 in 27 years) and the third overall for Northampton. The last trip for the Blue Devils came in 1992, when they fell by three points to Haverhill, another Merrimack Valley Conference team.

Over the years, however, Northampton has always been among the elite in the western part of the state. But Parent believes that this year's squad is superior to any of his others, including the 1992 team.

"This team has six kids who are outstanding basketball players," said Parent, who puts top reserve Casey Sicard, on the same level as his starters. "We've had three or four very good players before, but never six."

The Blue Devils return virtually the entire team from last year (20-2), when their only two losses were by a combined seven points to eventual state champion Springfield Central.

"But the kids have matured this year and they got stronger," said Parent. "That was the one thing we felt we needed to get and all the girls worked hard at it."

This is a season the Northampton seniors have pointed toward for three years. As freshmen they were 16-6, but they've gone 63-6 since then. Still, Parent knows that Andover, with seniors Meghan Thomann, Laura Renfro and Lauren Hughes leading the way, are in the same position, hoping to go out with a title.

"The team that shoots the ball the best is probably going to win," said Parent. "We've been pretty consistent (shooting) but I know they've got some great shooters."

Andover coach Jim Tildsley believes his club is ready for a championship effort and is hoping that the shots are falling like they did against New Bedford.

"If we play like we have the last three games, I like our chances," said Tildsley, whose 2003 team captured Andover's first state title when the current group of seniors were seventh graders.

Sailing right along. Scituate rolls to Div. 3 title game

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

SCITUATE 8, MARBLEHEAD 2
Sailing right along
Scituate rolls to Div. 3 title game


By Matt Porter, Globe Correspondent  |  March 14, 2008

WORCESTER - Before anyone could get comfortable at the DCU Center last night, Scituate jumped all over Marblehead in a Division 3 boys' hockey semifinal.

The Sailors scored four goals in just over eight minutes en route to an 8-2 victory, and punched their ticket to TD Banknorth Garden, where they will defend their state title Sunday against Westfield, which beat Gardner, 3-2, in the other semifinal.

Top line forwards Danny Galvin (hat trick) and Pat Duggan (two goals) spearheaded the offense. Mac Luciani, a preseason transfer from BC High, also scored twice.

"That whole line, they can skate really well and shoot really well," said coach Mike Breen, whose team moved to 13-6-5.

After seizing a 4-1 lead after one period, the Sailors refused to allow the freshmen-laden Headers back in the game.

Breen told his team not to try to hit its younger opponents out of the building, and his team focused on scoring rather than intimidating.

Brad Stenbeck opened the floodgates before Galvin potted two quick strikes. Luciani added another before Marblehead's Anders Gundersen got his team on the board.

Ben Koopman scored early in the second period to cut the deficit to two goals, but the Headers couldn't take advantage of three power plays in the frame.

Luciani and Duggan scored in the second, and Duggan and Galvin struck in the third.

Jamie Murray was solid, stopping 18 Marblehead shots.

Tony Cuzner (14 saves) and Aron Reny (9) split time in net for Marblehead. The Headers, who came into the playoffs with a .500 record, ended their season at 14-11-0.

After the final horn sounded - and the scorekeeper finished writing everything down - Marblehead coach Bob Jackson reflected about the Sailors' postseason.

"They're on a mission," he said of Scituate, which has outscored opponents, 25-9, in the tournament.

No doubt the Sailors are steamrolling their competition. But it's apparent they're playing with more than just back-to-back state titles in mind.

Even Breen acknowledges they're trying to blow teams out. After all, he admits he played his top line - Jamie Pratt, Duggan, and Galvin - for long stretches even when the score was 8-2. But it could hardly be considered an act of poor sportsmanship.

"I was trying to get [the score] to nine, for Timmy Mahoney, who we lost during the season," he said.

The Sailors have dedicated their playoff run to Mahoney, a sophomore defenseman who died in an automobile accident Feb. 2.

He wore No. 9.

Mahoney was announced alongside his brother, Pat, in the team's starting lineup, at his customary spot on defense, and the coaching staff wore blue-and-white pins adorned with No. 9.

Now, the team will get a chance to dedicate a state title to Mahoney.

South Portland wins middle school hockey title

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

South Portland wins middle school hockey title

SOUTH PORTLAND (March 14, 2008): South Portland claimed the Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League Hawkins Division title on March 12 in a hard-fought, 5 -2 win over York Middle School at Portland Ice Arena.

 

Courtesy photo by Rene Braun
The South Portland middle school hockey team won the Maine Middle School Hockey League Hawkins Division title last week. Pictured, bottom row, from left, Joey Babbidge, Patrick Sullivan, Mike Haas-Zanghi, Jared Wood, Sam Michaud, Ryan Gilbo. Top row, from left, Coach Kent Hulst, Nick Whitten, Coach DJ Whitten, Brendan Horton, James Gilboy, Neil Maietta, Matt Michaud, Coach Steve Sullivan, Coach Harlan Michaud (Courtesy photo by Rene Braun)


The next stop for both South Portland and York is the New England regional middle school championships to be held in Massachusetts the first weekend in April.

The Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League allows skaters in grades 5 through 8 the opportunity to play together, concurrent with other youth hockey opportunities such as squirt, peewee and bantam level leagues. Details on this program are available at www.smmshl.com.


Based in Westbrook, Sports Editor Mike Higgins can be reached at 207-854-2577 or by e-mail at mhiggins@keepmecurrent.com.

Mike Abreu to lead Maine Renegades

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Mike Abreu to lead Maine Renegades
sports@TimesRecord.Com
03/14/2008
GORHAM — The Maine Renegades, a youth ice hockey Tier I program, recently announced the addition of Mike Abreu to the Renegades.

Abreu, coach of the Mt. Ararat High School hockey team, takes over as the Director of Hockey and coach of the Renegade Midget hockey team (15-16-year-old players).

"Mike brings a wealth of playing, as well as coaching knowledge, to the Renegade organization," said Renegades president Bob Davis.

Abreu grew up in south Boston and played his high school hockey at Tabor Academy (1979-1983). He also played for the U.S. Midget Elite Team (1982) and was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to train for the 1984 Olympics.

Abreu later returned to play Junior "A" hockey for South Shore in the New England Junior Hockey League. He finished his playing career in the Western Hockey League playing for the Seattle Breakers (1984-1985).

"I want to be part of an organization that really teaches the fundamentals of hockey to our youth, and the goal is for those players to end the year better then when they started out," said Abreu.

Abreu will be responsible for assisting in the general management and operations of the organization, as well as assist with the development of practice curriculums and skills progression plans for all levels.

The Renegades play in the Valley Hockey League in Massachusetts with players throughout Maine.

Motivator: Baseball is indeed a head game

Sport: Baseball  Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Motivator: Baseball is indeed a head game

By Randy Whitehouse , Staff Writer
Friday, March 14, 2008

Yogi Berra once said baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical. So why, Brian Cain wants to know, do baseball coaches and players work on the mental part of the game less than 10 percent of the time?

Whatever percentage of baseball is a mind game, Cain is determined to get those who participate in it to pay more attention to that side of it, even if he has to use a toilet or a brick to do it.

Cain is an applied sports psychology and peak performance consultant who devotes 100 percent of his instruction to the mental aspect of the game. Teams that follow his teachings, including the 2004 NCAA national champion Cal State Fullerton squad, swear by him and his methods.

On Saturday, March 22, Cain will be at Poland Regional High School talking to players and coaches at what has been dubbed a "Mental Game Boot Camp," which is being held as a fundraiser for the Poland High School Boosters. While it won't be Cain's first appearance in Maine, Poland varsity baseball coach Dave Jordan said his presentation will be unlike anything most coaches and athletes have seen.

"His delivery of the importance of the mental game is awesome. He is a very dynamic speaker," Jordan said. "Brian keeps his audience very focused and provokes critical-thinking skills on how you can improve your thinking process."

Cain, who also works with athletes in other sports, such as mixed martial arts, describes himself as a "edutainer," a combination of an educator and an entertainer. He uses props, jokes, audience participation and video to make his points. For example, he'll talk about athletes releasing their "mental bricks," the negatives that they carry after a bad practice or game.

Sometimes, the props show up in the dugout of the teams that subscribe to Cain's lessons. During a recent College World Series, ESPN's cameras focused on a small toilet in the Cal State Fullerton dugout.

"There is so much failure built into the game of baseball that you have to learn how to 'flush' away the negative things - the bad calls, the rude fans, the bad at-bats," Cain said. "At Fullerton and all the other programs I work with, we have a toilet in the dugout so that we can 'flush it' during the game."

Jordan said he and his baseball staff saw Cain's presentation at the World Baseball Coaches' Clinic at Mohegan Sun in February and thought local players and coaches could benefit from his teachings.

"It is about being able to focus on the present moment, get rid of the distractions - the negative thoughts and other things going on around you - taking responsibility for our actions, not blaming the weather or the umps, and learning from each situation," Jordan said. "We believe that these are skills that will be very valuable in life as well."

The seminar will be held in two sessions, from 9-11 a.m. for coaches and 12-2 p.m. for players. The cost of the seminar is $40 per person ($30 per person from Mechanic Falls, Minot, and Poland). Contact Nancy Whittier at 441-0151 or nwhittier@fairpoint.net for more information. School coaches and players need to register for the separate sessions. Parents, college athletes and other adults can register for either.

Miss, Mr. Maine Basketball awards to be handed out tonight

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Miss, Mr. Maine Basketball awards to be handed out tonight
By Ernie Clark
Friday, March 14, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine - The first 20 years of the state's Mr. and Miss Basketball awards have produced a glittering roster of Maine's top individual players over the last generation.

From inaugural winners Tim Scott of Ellsworth and Julie Bradstreet of Central Aroostook of Mars Hill in 1988 to 2007 recipients Troy Barnies of Edward Little of Auburn and Ashley Cimino of McAuley of Portland, those selected to receive the award as the state’s top senior players are forever remembered in Maine basketball lore.

Many of the Mr. and Miss Basketball winners have continued their relationship with the game over the years.

Some have been drawn into the coaching ranks, such as 1994 Miss Basketball Cindy Blodgett of Lawrence of Fairfield, now guiding the University of Maine women’s basketball program, and 1991 winner Rita Sullivan of Bangor, an assistant on Blodgett’s staff.

Mike Adams of Mt. Blue of Farmington, the 1991 Mr. Basketball, coached the Edward Little boys to the 2008 Eastern Maine Class A championship game, while Bob Davies of Old Orchard Beach, the 1994 recipient, took Thornton Academy of Saco to the Western A final.

Then there are the more recent recipients such as Cimino and 2006 Mr. Basketball Bryant Barr of Falmouth, both of whom will live out the dream of March Madness on Division I college rosters. Cimino is a first-year forward at Stanford, ranked fourth in the nation; while Barr is a sophomore guard at Davidson, which qualified for the NCAA Division I tournament by winning the Southern Conference title.

A new Mr. and Miss Basketball will be crowned Friday evening at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson College, highlighting the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Awards Banquet that precedes Saturday’s East-West Senior All-Star Games.

Three boys and three girls are finalists for this year’s awards. Vying for Mr. Basketball are Sam Leclerc, a 6-foot-1 guard who led Winthrop to the 2008 Class C state championship; Ryan Martin, a 5-9 guard from Maranacook of Readfield who led the Black Bears to the Class B state title, the program’s second in three years; and Jon McAllian, a 6-5 guard who sparked Bangor to the Eastern A crown.

McAllian already has accepted a scholarship to join the University of Maine basketball program next fall, while Martin and Leclerc have not yet finalized their college plans.

Leclerc would become the second Mr. Basketball from Winthrop, following T.J. Caouette in 1996, and McAllian would join Zak Ray (2003) as a Mr. Basketball from Bangor. Martin would be the first player so honored from Maranacook.

Miss Basketball finalists are Jill Henrikson, a 5-9 guard from Morse of Bath; Rachael Mack, a 6-2 center from Cony of Augusta who earlier this week was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year; and Aarika Ritchie, a 5-6 guard who helped Lee Academy win the 2008 Class C state crown.

Ritchie and Mack are both bound for Colby College in Waterville, while Henrikson plans to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Henrikson and Ritchie each would be the first Miss Basketball winner from her school, while Mack would join Amy Vachon (1996) and Katie Rollins (2005) as recipients from Cony.

The awards banquet caps off a busy day for the all-stars.

Practices will be held at the new recreation facility at the University of Maine in Orono. The girls will work out from 10 a.m. to noon, followed from noon to 2 p.m. by the boys’ practice.

The girls’ senior all-stars will visit the Ronald McDonald House in Bangor from 2 to 3 p.m., with the boys visiting the facility from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday’s events at Newman Gymnasium kick off at 8:30 a.m. with the state free-throw shooting championship. Boys finalists are Josh Gilbert of Messalonskee of Oakland, Russ Mortland of Presque Isle, Jamie Nason of Foxcroft Academy and Steven Simonds of Bonny Eagle of Standish. Girls finalists are Ritchie, Allison Dean of Presque Isle, Megan Gilbert of Lawrence of Fairfield and Megan McDevitt of Greely of Cumberland Center.

The girls’ senior all-star games follow, with the C-D contest at 9:15 a.m. and the A-B game at 11 a.m.. A 3-point shooting contest will be held between the games.

The boys A-B game is set for 12:45 p.m., followed at 2:30 by the boys C-D contest, with those games separated by a slam dunk contest.

Miss, Mr. Maine Basketball awards to be handed out tonight

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Miss, Mr. Maine Basketball awards to be handed out tonight
By Ernie Clark
Friday, March 14, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine - The first 20 years of the state's Mr. and Miss Basketball awards have produced a glittering roster of Maine's top individual players over the last generation.

From inaugural winners Tim Scott of Ellsworth and Julie Bradstreet of Central Aroostook of Mars Hill in 1988 to 2007 recipients Troy Barnies of Edward Little of Auburn and Ashley Cimino of McAuley of Portland, those selected to receive the award as the state’s top senior players are forever remembered in Maine basketball lore.

Many of the Mr. and Miss Basketball winners have continued their relationship with the game over the years.

Some have been drawn into the coaching ranks, such as 1994 Miss Basketball Cindy Blodgett of Lawrence of Fairfield, now guiding the University of Maine women’s basketball program, and 1991 winner Rita Sullivan of Bangor, an assistant on Blodgett’s staff.

Mike Adams of Mt. Blue of Farmington, the 1991 Mr. Basketball, coached the Edward Little boys to the 2008 Eastern Maine Class A championship game, while Bob Davies of Old Orchard Beach, the 1994 recipient, took Thornton Academy of Saco to the Western A final.

Then there are the more recent recipients such as Cimino and 2006 Mr. Basketball Bryant Barr of Falmouth, both of whom will live out the dream of March Madness on Division I college rosters. Cimino is a first-year forward at Stanford, ranked fourth in the nation; while Barr is a sophomore guard at Davidson, which qualified for the NCAA Division I tournament by winning the Southern Conference title.

A new Mr. and Miss Basketball will be crowned Friday evening at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson College, highlighting the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Awards Banquet that precedes Saturday’s East-West Senior All-Star Games.

Three boys and three girls are finalists for this year’s awards. Vying for Mr. Basketball are Sam Leclerc, a 6-foot-1 guard who led Winthrop to the 2008 Class C state championship; Ryan Martin, a 5-9 guard from Maranacook of Readfield who led the Black Bears to the Class B state title, the program’s second in three years; and Jon McAllian, a 6-5 guard who sparked Bangor to the Eastern A crown.

McAllian already has accepted a scholarship to join the University of Maine basketball program next fall, while Martin and Leclerc have not yet finalized their college plans.

Leclerc would become the second Mr. Basketball from Winthrop, following T.J. Caouette in 1996, and McAllian would join Zak Ray (2003) as a Mr. Basketball from Bangor. Martin would be the first player so honored from Maranacook.

Miss Basketball finalists are Jill Henrikson, a 5-9 guard from Morse of Bath; Rachael Mack, a 6-2 center from Cony of Augusta who earlier this week was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year; and Aarika Ritchie, a 5-6 guard who helped Lee Academy win the 2008 Class C state crown.

Ritchie and Mack are both bound for Colby College in Waterville, while Henrikson plans to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

Henrikson and Ritchie each would be the first Miss Basketball winner from her school, while Mack would join Amy Vachon (1996) and Katie Rollins (2005) as recipients from Cony.

The awards banquet caps off a busy day for the all-stars.

Practices will be held at the new recreation facility at the University of Maine in Orono. The girls will work out from 10 a.m. to noon, followed from noon to 2 p.m. by the boys’ practice.

The girls’ senior all-stars will visit the Ronald McDonald House in Bangor from 2 to 3 p.m., with the boys visiting the facility from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday’s events at Newman Gymnasium kick off at 8:30 a.m. with the state free-throw shooting championship. Boys finalists are Josh Gilbert of Messalonskee of Oakland, Russ Mortland of Presque Isle, Jamie Nason of Foxcroft Academy and Steven Simonds of Bonny Eagle of Standish. Girls finalists are Ritchie, Allison Dean of Presque Isle, Megan Gilbert of Lawrence of Fairfield and Megan McDevitt of Greely of Cumberland Center.

The girls’ senior all-star games follow, with the C-D contest at 9:15 a.m. and the A-B game at 11 a.m.. A 3-point shooting contest will be held between the games.

The boys A-B game is set for 12:45 p.m., followed at 2:30 by the boys C-D contest, with those games separated by a slam dunk contest.

 

York, Rossignol key OT victory

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

York, Rossignol key OT victory
By BDN Staff
Friday, March 14, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Cameron York of Central Aroostook of Mars Hill converted a three-point play with about six seconds left in overtime to lead the Blue to a 102-101 victory over the Gold in the 18th annual Aroostook County Senior All-Star Basketball Classic on Wednesday night.

The girls Gold team was victorious over the Blue 64-62.

In the boys game,the Blue trailed by 24 points with about seven minutes left in regulation.

Jarryd Rossignol of Caribou led the Blue with 25 points, 18 coming from six 3-pointers. Caribou’s Ben Rosser scored 20 points, while York added 15 and Tyler Cote of Ashland had 10.

Houlton’s Ryan Hill paced the Gold with 22 points. Ben Doucette of Van Buren scored 19 points, while Nic Gallant of Presque Isle had 16 and Katahdin of Stacyville’s Tom Anderson added 15 points.

Paine learned on Gardner’s ‘small ice’

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Paine learned on Gardner’s ‘small ice’

By Jay Gearan CORRESPONDENT

Gardner's Ryan Cormier and Evan Wernicki combine to take down Westfield's Ryan Leonard as Gardner goalie Mike Colcord, left, covers up a loose puck.


WORCESTER— Members of the Gardner High hockey team are frequently asked what it’s like to play on the “big ice” at the DCU Center.

Senior Lucas Paine has heard that question, but he’d rather talk about playing on the “small ice” in the backyard of his family’s home on Partridge Street, near the Westminster line, in South Gardner. That’s where Paine’s father, Rick, taught his son how to skate, stickhandle and shoot.

“We set up some boards, put down some tarp, dropped some water down and it froze up nice,” said Paine, who took up the game at age 6. “It’s probably the size of a rink’s goal line to the blue line.”


Twelve years later, all those hours of practice helped Paine become one of the top scorers in the Roy Conference. It’s also helped the Wildcats win consecutive Central Mass. titles and reach the Division 3 state final for the first time since Gardner won it all in 1994.

For the second straight season, the Bombers from Westfield stopped the ’Cats here.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote another Paine — the famous Thomas ages ago. And Lucas Paine understands that. He can deal with a loss, and he’s grateful for so many wins and two titles.

“It’s better than leaving on a bad note,” Paine said. “Two Central Mass. championships in a row. You can’t really ask for much more.”

Westfield will play Scituate at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Paine frequently thinks about the guys who were here last year, the ones who struggled a year ago against Westfield, which beat Gardner, 4-1.

“It’s been a great run. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Paine said. “Last year, we all took it pretty hard because the seniors we had on the team — Bill McMahon, Matt BelleIsle, Drew Savard — they all worked so hard, harder than anyone else just to get there. They inspired us starting halfway through the season. We knew it was possible.”

Paine is also inspired by his grandfather Vic Blanchette — his mother Judy’s father — who attends just about every Gardner game despite a serious illness. To be sure, Blanchette was in the stands last night too.

“It’s been great having him watch me,” Paine said. “He’s always been a steady figure at the games.”

When he first laced on skates, Paine didn’t think it was possible for him to skate at the next level, but now he’s a college prospect, who’s narrowed his choices down to UMass-Lowell, Worcester State and the University of Southern Maine.

“If I go to UMass-Lowell, it will be strictly for academics,” Paine said. “But I would try to play if I go to Southern Maine or Worcester State.”

Paine played alongside O’Reilly and Leger, a high-scoring line.

“When he wants to turn it on, he can really go through a defense,” Gardner coach Jean-Guy Gagnon said of Paine. “He’s got great speed and I really want him to take the shots when he can. I’ve been saying that to Lucas all season long. I can see a game when he’s going to come away with five or six goals. It’s going to happen.”

Gardner needed another hockey game to make Gagnon’s prediction come true.

This loss will hurt for awhile, but Lucas Paine can look back on a successful high school hockey career, great friendships with teammates, respect won by coaches. And it all started on the little ice in the backyard.

Girls’ State Basketball Finals at DCU Center

Sport:   Posted: March 14th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Girls’ State Basketball Finals at DCU Center


Division 1
Northampton

vs. Andover

5:45 p.m. tomorrow


•Northampton Blue Devils

Coach: Tom Parent

Record: 22-2

Top players: Jenny Bell, Brighid Courtney, Alannah Driscoll-Sbar, Jamie Messer, Cassy Sicard

•Andover Golden Eagles

Coach: Jim Tildsley

Record: 22-3

Top players: Lauren Hughes, Lauren Renfro, Meghan Thomann

Scouting report: Thomann is one of the top guards in the state and can play both inside and outside. She will head to Bentley next fall. … After winning its first Western Mass. title in 16 years, Northampton looks to win its first state title. The Blue Devils reached the final in 1976 and 1992, but lost both times. … The Golden Warriors are led by Thomann (14.6 ppg) and Renfro (13.5 ppg). … Andover is making its first appearance in a state final since 2004, when it lost to Minnechaug. The Golden Warriors won the state title in 2003 and also reached the final in 1998.

Division 2
Millbury

vs. Wellesley

2:15 p.m. tomorrow

•Millbury Woolies

Coach: Steve Reno

Record: 20-3

Top players: Cailin Bullett, Julie Frankian, Sydney Bloomstein, Chelsea Perkins, Kirsten Orrell

•Wellesley Raiders

Coach: Kristin Cieri

Overall record: 22-3

Top players: Blake Dietrick, Mary Louise Dixon, Jesse Miller, Chelsea Sanders, Corley Stone, Lindsay Sydness

Scouting report: The Raiders head into the state final thanks to a strong defensive push, led by their stopper Sanders, who has shut down more than a few opposing scorers in Wellesley’s run to the Division 2 crown. … Miller, Stone and Sydness are an imposing frontcourt for Wellesley and could give Millbury trouble. … The Raiders became Giant Killers en route to the DCU Center, as Wellesley handed previously unbeaten Bishop Feehan its first loss and then knocked off Bay State Herget rival Walpole in the final. … The Woolies, in the state final for the first time in school history, have one of the best young teams in the state and lose just two seniors to graduation next year, but Millbury will return all five starters. … Frankian was the No. 2 scorer in the SWCL West, averaging 13.3 points per game as a freshman. Bullett added 9.3 points per game while Perkins averaged eight.

Division 3
Quaboag

vs. Archbishop Williams

10:45 a.m. tomorrow

•Quaboag Cougars

Coach: John Vayda

Record: 24-1

Top players: Meghan Burns, Macey Gaumond, Olivia Jankins, Samantha McCann, Meaghan O’Keefe

•Archbishop Williams Bishops

Coach: Jim Bancroft

Record: 21-2

Top players: Meghan Black, Casey Capello, Valerie Driscoll, Christine Duffy

Scouting report: The Cougars will have a tough task in stopping the Bishops gunner Capello, as the junior averaged 13.5 points per game in the Catholic Central League this winter. … Archbishop Williams won the Division 3 state championship last year and is looking to make it two in a row. … Quaboag has tremendous depth, as either O’Keefe (12.4 ppg), McCann (9.6 ppg), Gaumond (9.4 ppg) or Burns (8.2 ppg) can take over a game if Archbishop Williams isn’t careful. … It’s a safe bet that Duffy is the best point guard Quaboag will see all year, as she averaged 15 points last year and shot 82 percent from the free throw line. … Quaboag is looking for its first Division 3 state title since 2006, when the Cougars beat Cardinal Spellman in overtime. … This is Quaboag’s seventh trip to the state final and the Cougars boast a 4-2 mark overall.
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