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Knights cap emotional day with state title

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Knights cap emotional day with state title
March 17, 2008 6:00 AM

Members of the Sandwich boys hockey team pose on the ice with their trophy after winning the Division 2 state title on Sunday.RON SCHLOERB/ Cape Cod Times

BOSTON — The day began with an emotional visit to a fallen teammate still very much in their thoughts.

It ended with the Sandwich High boys hockey team piling on one another at one end of the TD Banknorth Garden ice, celebrating the MIAA Division 2 state hockey championship after a nail-biting 1-0 victory over Wilmington yesterday afternoon.

Sophomore forward Craig Brubaker's second-period goal stood up, and freshman goalie Pat Farrington, at times, stood on his head as the Blue Knights brought home their first state hockey championship.

And although one-time Blue Knight Jeff Hayes passed away last year after a courageous battle with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, he was on the bench, on the ice and in the hearts, souls and minds of his former teammates who were playing for glory, and in a very real sense, playing for him.

"We went to Jeff Hayes' grave site this morning before the game, and we toasted to him," Sandwich coach Derackk Curtis said. "We had 24 cans of Mountain Dew that I called cans of whoop-ass, and we opened them up and took a sip and we poured a little on Jeff's grave and left a bunch of cans there for him.

"I shed a tear," he added, while holding an MIAA championship medallion he plans on bringing to the grave site now covered with those symbolic Mountain Dew cans. "He was a big part of our program. Everyone on the team, except for a couple of freshmen, knows Jeff. And the last time I was in this building, it was to pay tribute to Jeff."

The team also paid tribute with how it got down to business against the North champion Wildcats, who finish the season at 17-3-4.

The only goal came at 4:28 of the second period, when Brubaker gave the Blue Knights (20-2-3) all they would need, as it tuned out.

With Connor Hayes (no relation to Jeff) and Bryan Bolton keeping the pressure on the Wilmington defense, each took a swipe at the puck until it found its way to Brubaker, who turned, and in one motion fired a slapper between the pads of Wildcats goalie Michael Cabral.

Biggest goal of his young hockey life, Brubaker was asked?

"So far," he said beaming. "It just feels awesome. Just an unbelievable feeling."

His effort all game didn't escape the notice of his coach.

"I thought Brubaker was the best player on the ice," Curtis said.

But the Knights also knew they had to make a 1-0 advantage hold up, and Wilmington, although appearing tired at times, put on the pressure in the third period, particularly on the period's lone power play chance.

Eric Siegel, Wilmington's dynamic senior forward, had more than a couple of opportunities he couldn't convert, either because of a Farrington save, or shots that sailed just wide or just high.

Yet Sandwich stemmed the tide, even in the final minute when the Wildcats pulled Cabral for an extra attacker and Sandwich was forced to ice the puck twice and Farrington made a game-saving stop on Andrew Goossens alone in front.

"We wanted another goal," Curtis said. They almost had it when Matt Cassista had daylight between himself and the empty net, only to be held off by a Wilmington defender, which in turn started a last-gasp rush for the Wildcats that ended in the neutral zone as the final horn sounded.

"It feels satisfying," said Curtis, in his fourth year behind the Sandwich bench. "I don't think it'll really hit me until maybe I get on the bus and get in my car for the ride home to Sturbridge and think about what just happened. It's a good day for the program of Sandwich hockey."

After a sluggish first period, the Wildcats came alive in the second, particularly Siegel, but Sandwich was the team that came away with the period's only goal.

Siegel, meanwhile, nearly tied on at least three occasions during a late second-period Wilmington power play. First charging down the right wing and putting a forehand shot on Farrington, then whipping a wicked wrist shot that just sailed high and wide, and finally when his screen shot from the left circle whistled just wide.

But nothing got by Farrington, who along with his strong defensive corps, allowed just three goals in four rounds of the tournament.

"Our goal was to win the state championship," Curtis said. "Nobody believed me, because Sandwich has notoriously not had a lot of success, and so when we knocked off Oliver Ames in the first round of the tournament, I think at that point they started to believe."

The first period was played as if both teams were vying for their first state championship — which they were — with players on both sides looking as if they were afraid to make a mistake.

The Wildcats brought the physical game with them, as winger Kevin Flanagan hit Sandwich defenseman Darryl Lawrie and forwards Garrett Lessard within seconds of each other.

"They tried to take it to us," Curtis said. "But I think we wore them down."

The Knights withstood the early message Wilmington was trying to send and stood their ground, getting the only quality scoring chances in the period and outshooting Wilmington 5-1 in the frame.

The Wildcats' only shot of the period came with less than a minute left to play, a harmless 35-foot wrist shot that Farrington handled with ease with the right pad.

The best Sandwich bid came when Craig LaRocco glided over the blue line and fired a quick shot through a screen that Wilmington's Cabral caught with the catching glove. Craig LaRocco had another bid when he streaked down the right wing and shoveled a pass out front, which was knocked away by Cabral.

Night sports editor Bob Bradley can be reached at 508-862-1152 or rbradley@capecodonline.com.

Loss in title game leaves MC's Serino frustrated

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Loss in title game leaves MC's Serino frustrated

By Steve Krause / The Daily Item

BOSTON -- Don't tell Chris Serino that it's OK ... or that his team is young ... or that there's an excellent chance that Malden Catholic will be a player in the Division 1A high-school hockey tournament for years to come.

Because as far as Serino is concerned, there is only today.

The Lancers fell to Reading last night, 3-0, in the finals of the 1A tournament at the Boston Garden. So he had to sit there and watch as the Rockets became the first public-school team in the 17-year history of the tournament to take home the top prize.

Even though he has the nucleus of a good team coming back next year, Serino, from Saugus, didn't really see it that way.

"We could be a better team next year," he said. "But will we get here next year? Who knows?

"A lot of things have to go right for you to get here," he said. "And it's not always the best team that does. Look at Catholic Memorial. They were undefeated during the regular season, but lost twice in the tournament.

"It all comes down to how you're playing when you get here," said Serino, whose Lancers came into the tournament seeded sixth -- one spot behind the No. 5 Rockets.

But both teams caught fire once the round-robin tournament started. Neither lost a game, though the Lancers came close in Game 2 of the first round, allowing Hingham to tie the score late in the third period -- and then surviving an overtime before winning in a shootout.

Even in the crossover game, Reading won with ease over Xaverian (5-2) while MC had to scratch and claw to overcome a 2-0 deficit to defeat Catholic Memorial, 3-2.

If anything, it looked as if the Lancers would keep the Catholic school winning streak going in the first period last night, skating rings around the much more experienced -- and heavily favored -- Rockets. The only problem? They did everything except score.

It wasn't for lack of trying. They peppered goalie Jeff Wyer with shots (12 overall in the period) but came away empty.

Of course, after one particular flurry, Reading's Pat Kiley (goal, 2 assists) came right down to the Lancer end, put a beautiful juke on MC defenseman Evan Yanovitch, and beat goalie John Carbonneau over his right shoulder, giving the Rockets a 1-0 lead.

"That was the story of the whole game," Serino said. "We couldn't take advantage of our chances, and they did.

"We haven't scored a lot of goals this year, and that's because we're young," he said. "You could see it. On the other hand, (Reading's) big line ... when they get the puck, they expect to score.

"But," he said, "as good as they are, I didn't expect a high-scoring game. Their defense is very good, and that goalie ... he's very good. I knew it was going to be a long night after he made three or four saves right in a row. A goalie who does that is pretty tough to beat."

Kiley's goal didn't really dent Malden Catholic's enthusiasm, but Rob Toczylowski's first of the night did. It came early in the second period on a routine dump-in that just took a funny bounce off Carbonneau's stick.

"It shouldn't have deflated us, but it did," said Serino. "That took a lot of the air out of us."

After Toczylowski's second goal, making it 3-0, the Lancers had a chance to get one back going into the locker room. But Wyer robbed MC's Zack Sheppard blind on the doorstep, and it was probably MC's last big chance.

"I'm proud of what the kids did," said Serino. "We never quit. Nobody expected us to be here, but that doesn't mean that once we got here, that we didn't expect to win."

A lot of people also expected a high-scoring game, especially with the Kiley-Toczylowski-Mike Lozzi line as prolific as it was all season.

"Everybody overlooked the defense," he said. "You look at them and not a whole lot of people scored against them.

"I wasn't expecting a high-scoring game," he said. "I figured three goals would win it ... I just thought it would be us scoring them."

MC hockey runs out of magic against Reading

Sport:   Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

MC hockey runs out of magic against Reading

MC's Tony Serino and a Reading player get tied up during the state Div. IA hockey championship Sunday. (ITEM PHOTO / JONATHON M. WHITMORE)

By Matthew Roy / For The Item

BOSTON -- It was a day that many hockey fans in Eastern Mass. believed would never happen. But for the first time since 1978, a public high school can call itself the best hockey team in the state of Massachusetts.

And boy, did it happen in style.

On Sunday night at TD BankNorth Garden, in front of the biggest crowd to ever watch a high-school game in the building, Reading put an end to 20 years of public-school frustration in Division 1, and 17 years of futility in the Division 1A championship.

The Rockets, seeded fifth three weeks ago, completed a dream season as the trio of Pat Kiley, Mike Lozzi and Rob Toczylowski accounted for all the offense in Reading's 3-0 win over Malden Catholic.

Reading (25-1) becomes the first public since Hudson in 1978 to win the Division 1 crown, and the Rockets become only the fourth team to win a Super 8 title since the tourney's inception in 1990, joining Catholic Memorial, BC High and Arlington Catholic as the only champs.

"It's more than Reading winning, it's about all the public schools in the state who've been here before," Lozzi said. "That was a big motivation for us."

The Rockets survived a horrendous first period, despite leading 1-0, before playing two stellar periods of hockey.

"We didn't play a very good first period," Reading coach Peter Doherty said. "But we still managed to get a goal."

For Malden Catholic, the first 15 minutes would be something that would come back to haunt it later in the game.

"We had plenty of opportunities," Lancers coach Chris Serino said. "But we didn't take advantage. And that was the difference. They put their chances away and we didn't."

Early on, MC (15-6-4) had complete control of the play but couldn't convert against Reading goalie Jeff Wyer (23 saves). Mike Vecchione, the hero in MC's 3-2 win over CM on Wednesday, missed the net on a backhander and Andrew Cerretani fanned on an Alex Minter centering pass with a wide-open net in front of him.

The missed chances eventually proved costly for MC late in the first.

Pat Kiley, who led all players in the tournament with 15 points, deked past defenseman Evan Yanovitch at the Lancer blue line and fired a shot that deflected off the shoulder of John Carbonneau to give Reading a 1-0 lead at 11:46.

Wyer kept the Rockets in front with a minute left in the first thanks to a miraculous left-pad save on Jason Yeomelakis' bid from the top of the crease.

Things would go from bad to worse for the Lancers just seconds into the middle period. Toczylowski took a Kiley pass and lofted a simple dump in from the neutral zone towards Carbonneau. But the puck somehow skidded between the Lancer netminder's legs to give Reading a 2-0 lead.

"That second goal let the air out of our sails a bit because I thought that we had played a pretty good first period," Serino said.

The Lancers fought back and put pressure on Wyer but couldn't find the mark. That allowed Reading to put some more distance between itself and the Lancers midway through the game.

Lozzi picked up a Kiley pass in the neutral zone and made a long-distance connection with Toczylowski at the MC line. The senior sniper promptly rifled his 35th goal of the year over the short-side shoulder of Carbonneau to make it 3-0.

"That third goal was huge," Lozzi said.

Late in the second, MC's night was epitomized in one sequence.

Coming out of the box following a roughing penalty, Tony Serino found the puck on his stick and a wide-open goal in front of him. But Wyer somehow threw his right pad up to make a spectacular stop and keep it 3-0.

"(Wyer) played outstanding and he's playing with confidence," Serino said. "When a goalie makes 3-or-4 stops like he did in the first, I knew it would be a long night."

The Lancers had a chance to cut into the lead at the start of the third when they carried 56 seconds of power play time over from the second. But the Reading defense held MC at bay.

From there on, the Rockets put on a defensive clinic, holding MC to only five third-period shots. All that was left, then, was the celebration for the first public team to break through in the Super 8.

"It's unbelievable," Doherty said. "This is a big win for public high school hockey in this state."

East A-B, West C-D celebrate season's end with intense wins

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 17th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

East A-B, West C-D celebrate season's end with intense wins
By Ernie Clark
Monday, March 17, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

 Presque Isle's Adam Kingsbury gets some air defending Portland's Jake Longstaff in their all star game at Husson College in Bangor on Saturday. (Bangor Daily News/Michael York) Buy this photo031708_AllStars4.JPG
 Presque Isle's Adam Kingsbury, left, Bangor's Lee Suvlu, top, and Cony's Andrew Pullen, right, try to stop Deering's Kyle Donovan on a drive to the hoop in the first half of their all star game at Husson College on Saturday. (Bangor Daily News/Michael York)

BANGOR - The Maine McDonald’s All-Star Basketball Games typically are more a celebration of the end of the high school season than high-intensity competition.

But fans at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson College got a taste of both during Saturday afternoon’s schoolboy doubleheader thanks to a pair of one-point decisions, as the East A-B all-stars earned a 77-76 victory while the West was a 66-65 winner in the C-D contest.

"It’s been a lot of fun hanging out with the guys that I’ve been playing basketball against and with for as long as I can remember," said East A-B all-star Derek Libbey of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln. "It’s a good way to wrap up the season."

The decisive play in the A-B game came on defense, when Mike Poulin of Class B state champion Maranacook of Readfield blocked a potential game-tying shot by Travis Guerrette of Windham in the waning seconds.

The West had closed to within 75-73 on a baseline drive by Tommy Ray of Cape Elizabeth with 50 seconds left, and Ray and Guerrette then combined to strip the ball from Maranacook’s Ryan Martin near midcourt, sending Guerrette the other way racing toward the basket.

But Poulin anticipated the turnover and got back in time to deny Guerrette an uncontested path, and as Guerrette tried to launch a shot Poulin knocked the ball away.

The East regained possession, and Martin — the state’s 2008 Mr. Basketball — made two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to give his team a two-possession lead that was just enough to offset a 3-pointer by Guerrette at the buzzer.

"As you know, all-star games are not really known for defense, but once it came down to the end we knew we had to pick it up on ‘D,’ and I got back and was in the right spot, I guess," said Poulin. "I saw Ryan slip a little and he had two guys on him, so I figured I might try to get back as fast as I could."

Bangor’s Lee Suvlu led all scorers with 18 points, including 12 during a second half that featured four ties and four lead changes.

"Everyone loves that kind of game, especially me," said Suvlu of the wide-open style of play. "We all had a good time and even though there were a few turnovers and not much defense in the first half and part of the second half, we managed to pull it out in the end."

Martin added 15 points for the East, while Andrew Pullen of Cony of Augusta scored 11 points.

Doug Alston of Class A state champion Cheverus of Portland and Kyle Donovan of Deering of Portland each scored 16 points for the West.

In the C-D game,the East jumped out to a 12-2 lead, but the West went on a 38-8 run over the game’s next 18 minutes to take a 40-20 lead early in the second half.

But the East battled back behind the all-around play of Calais guard Sam Bell, initially with a 16-2 run of its own to cut the gap to 44-28 midway through the period.

"I was getting a little nervous," said Bell, who finished with a game-high 17 points. "I didn’t want to get blown out, but the team played hard and came back."

The West reasserted itself over the next few minutes, with a spinning coast-to-coast drive by 6-foot-10 center Marc Zaharchuk, the SportsCenter highlight, in helping his team move back out to a 60-50 lead.

The East had one more run, starting when Brandon London of Piscataquis of Guilford hit a jumper from the key and a 3-pointer off a pass by Cameron York of Class D state champion Central Aroostook of Mars Hill.

Bell then scored twice before feeding Orono’s Seth Dwyer for a 3-pointer that gave the East a 62-60 lead with 1:51 remaining.

Mr. Basketball finalist Sam Leclerc of Class C state champion Winthrop then stepped up, hitting a jumper and two free throws as the West regained a 65-62 lead with 32 seconds left.

Collin Ciomei of Deer Isle-Stonington made a 3-pointer to tie the game with 15 seconds left, but the West broke through the East’s defensive pressure to earn Boothbay’s Kris Noonan a trip to the free throw line with 2.2 seconds to play.

Noonan made the first of two free throws to give the West a one-point lead.

Dwyer then inbounded the ball to Ciomei near midcourt, and he one-timed a pass to Bell on his right. Bell’s 30-foot runner was contested, and came up just short at the buzzer.

"I half-thought it was in," said Bell. "It felt good coming out of my hands."

Ciomei finished with nine points for the East, while Dwyer, London and Mike Lowell of Schenck of East Millinocket each added seven.

Leclerc had 10 points for the West, while Trevor Miller of Valley of Bingham scored 10.



Tantasqua's winning streak ends at 49

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Tantasqua's winning streak ends at 49
Sunday, March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - Tantasqua Regional played Catholic Memo- rial yesterday in a rematch of last season's Division II boys basketball state final.

Unfortunately for the Warriors of Fiskdale, it wasn't a replay.

Tantasqua, which rallied to beat Catholic Memorial a year, fell to the quick and highly-motivated Knights of West Roxbury 74-56 at the DCU Center.

The Warriors' hopes of back-to-back perfect seasons came to an end, as they finished 24-1. So did their 49-game win streak.

"I'm extremely proud of our guys," said Tantasqua coach Jeff Child, whose team beat the Knights 64-58 last season. "I think a lot of people thought we were going to drop off the planet, losing Terry (Peretti), A.J. Comerford and Andrew Kazanovicz.

"That said, I'm very proud of us being here. I knew we were going to be good. I didn't know we were going to be here. But we came up short tonight against a team that had some real good guard play."

Catholic Memorial (22-4) claimed its first state title since 1969.

"They beat us last year. They deserved to. They played better than us last year," Catholic Memorial coach Dennis Tobin said. "But our whole mission ... we had nine guys back from last year's team, so we were hoping to get back. And low and behold, it happened to be Tantasqua again."

Brian Vayda led Tantasqua with 21 points, while Dan Kemp netted a dozen. Julian Colarusso sparked Catholic Memorial with 24 points and 17 boards.

Catholic Memorial's press, man-to-man defense and overall quickness were too much for Tantasqua.

"It seemed to me that they crashed the boards a little bit better than we did," Child said. "That hurt. A lot of things hurt."

To make matters worse against the quick-handed Knights, Tantasqua lost starting senior point guard Marcus Gaudet three minutes into the game.

Gaudet came down with the flu Wednesday. He gave yesterday's final a shot, but said he "felt weak."

"Marcus stepped up great this whole year," Vayda said. "He's been clutch, especially in the districts. (Not having Gaudet) definitely hurt us against the press. We could have used him. That's where most of our turnovers and their points came from: against their press. So having Marcus would have helped us a lot. But they're a great team."

Tantasqua held an early lead when Gaudet was in the game. Once Gaudet left, though, Catholic Memorial soon took advantage, and a 17-13 lead after a 14-2 run to close out the first quarter.

"The bottom line is they're extremely quick off the dribble," said Child, whose team turned the ball over 22 times. "They were relentless. We made way too many turnovers to beat a team like that."

'Hamp is champ

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

'Hamp is champ
Sunday, March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - First, and foremost.

The Northampton High School girls basketball team is No. 1 in the state.

The Blue Devils won their first state championship last night, defeating Andover 50-37 in the Division I final at DCU Center.

"It's just a great feeling," Northampton senior Iris Santoni said. "Now we can call ourselves the best team in Massachusetts - state champions."

Northampton (24-2) won in its third state final appearance, a week after winning its first Western Massachusetts crown in 16 years.

"It was great, as it got closer," Northampton senior Jamie Messer said. "It was a big gym, a big everything ... and it makes it all worth it."

Andover (23-3), the Eastern Massachusetts champion, sought its first title since 2003 and reached its third title game in six years.

"Give Northampton a lot of credit, they are a very good team and all six players who really play are great players," Andover coach Jim Tildsley said. "They are big, strong and athletic. And No. 32 (Northampton's Alannah Driscoll-Sbar) is the real deal."

Driscoll-Sbar, a junior forward, scored 20 points, while Brighid Courtney added 15.

"This is the perfect ending, to be No. 1" Driscoll-Sbar said. "We couldn't have asked for anything better."

Northampton did some damage at the foul line, going 18 of 27. Andover was 1 of 3.

"The kids worked so hard, for so long for this ... goal fulfilled," Northampton coach Tom Parent said. "So many times you work so hard for something, and you don't get there."

Northampton led by eight at halftime and by as many as 15 during the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

From there, Northampton held Andover to four field goals on its final 18 possessions, and the lead never dipped below nine.

"Our defense was amazing," Northampton junior Jenny Bell said. "We played (defense) just the way we wanted to."

Laura Renfro made six 3-pointers and her 20 points led Andover, which made eight 3-pointers overall.

The Blue Devils took command late in the third quarter, when Driscoll-Sbar made six straight foul shots and then converted from the baseline on the final possession of the quarter.

"The foul shots come from all of our practice on them," Driscoll-Sbar said.

Northampton took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter, pushing it as high as 15, at 40-25, on its opening possession.

"I liked what we were doing ... and once the lead got to 15 it looked a lot better," Parent said.

The Blue Devils had five players score before the game was 10 minutes old, while the defense put the clamps on Andover.

"We just gave them too many easy baskets," Tildsley said. "And defensively, they pushed us pretty far out on the perimeter."

Andover made eight 3-pointers as a team, but only three of its six two-point field goals came in the paint.

"We did our under 40 thing on defense, we held them to less than that," Santoni said of a team that has held four of five postseason foes to less that 40 points.

Northampton lost to Haverhill 70-67 in the 1992 state final, and to Brockton 50-48 in 1976.

"We're having police and fire trucks meet us at the exit off the pike ... and then we're going back to our gym to cut the nets down," Parent said.

Andover, the 2003 champion, was a state finalist in 1998 and 2004.

Total paid attendance for the six-game championship slate was 13,923.

Frontier wins in short order

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Frontier wins in short order
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Frontier 79 Scituate 65

WORCESTER - For the Frontier Regional boys basketball team, no task is too tall.

Despite playing three-quarters of the Division III state championship game without its best guard and against a Scituate team that boasted a huge front line, Frontier found a way to win its second state title 79-65 yesterday at the DCU Center.

The Red Hawks received exceptional performances from juniors Jon Pepyne and Gary Grandonico, the pair making up for the loss of senior Jamie Bell, who left the game midway through the second quarter with a left knee injury.

By that time the Red Hawks had the lead for good, never letting the Sailors catch up as the Red Hawks played perhaps their most complete game of the season.

"These kids have worked so hard, and they've been a great group," Frontier coach Marty Sanderson said. "They listened and played the game. What we told the kids to do in our matchups, they did tremendously. We forced them into things they didn't want to do."

Frontier's plan was to use the 6-foot-2 wide-shouldered Pepyne to put a body on Scituate's 6-9 center Sean McCarthy, and keep 6-6 forward Blaine O'Brien off the boards as well.

On offense, the Red Hawks were looking to spread the floor and have forwards Dan and Brian Clark step back to either draw the big men out from under the basket or hit shots from the perimeter. Sanderson wanted to change it up in the second half and go smaller and quicker, but Bell's injury nixed that.

"With Jamie getting hurt, it took away our ability to go with three guards," Sanderson said.

It also meant more than 18 points a game would be missing from the offense.

"I didn't really focus on that," Grandonico said. "One of the big three was out, so get it to the big two."

But what happened was Grandonico scored 17 points, 14 coming in the second half as his offense made up for the loss of Bell.

"That was scary because we've depended on Jamie all year, he's kind of a building block," Dan Clark, who scored 23 points, said. "That was kind of hard but we knew we could do it without him.

"Pepyne had a great game and Gary as well, He shot the lights out in the second half."

The win was a bittersweet one for Bell, a senior headed to Westfield State College in the fall. He injured his knee with five minutes, 47 seconds left in the second quarter and sat the rest of the half. He gave it a go in the third quarter, but after a little more than a minute he knew he was all done.

"It was very difficult, I wanted to play in that game so bad, it was my dream," Bell said. "I was so glad everyone stepped up. Gary played a great game, one of the greatest games I've seen him play."

The game was tied at 23 when Pepyne and Dan Clark made back-to-back trips to the foul line, both making a pair to start a 9-2 run that would put the Red Hawks ahead for good.

O'Brien (20 points) knocked down a jumper, but Dan Clark answered with one of his four 3-pointers, then Matt Chamberlin scored inside to give Frontier a 32-25 lead.

The half ended with the Red Hawks ahead 39-35, but O'Brien made a 3-pointer to start the third quarter to get the Sailors (22-3) within one.

In the final quarter, Grandonico took over, scoring 11 points, including a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter. The Frontier defense forced the Sailors to score from the perimeter and limited them to one shot.

"Coach told us we needed to play defense as well as we play offense and we'd be unstoppable," Dan Clark said.

The Red Hawks did just that, and they have the trophy to prove it.

Cold snap dooms Quaboag

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Cold snap dooms Quaboag
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Arch. Williams 69 Quaboag 47

WORCESTER - With 2:21 remaining in the first half, the DCU Center magically transformed into Old Trafford, home of the Manchester United F.C., as a chant of "Ole, Ole-Ole-Ole, Oleee, Oleeee" rose from the Archbishop Williams cheering section.

It rose again with 2:13 remaining in the third and then again at the end of the quarter, and by then the Bishops were well on their way to repeating as the Division III girls basketball champions.

Archbishop Williams used a 20-point second quarter, a 22-point third and took advantage of a disjointed Quaboag team, as the Archies soundly defeated the Cougars 69-47 yesterday afternoon.

Quaboag's hopes for a fifth state crown evaporated in the second quarter, as the Cougars (24-2) were unable to hit a shot for over eight minutes. Quaboag came into the second with a four-point, 16-12 lead after Olivia Jankins hit a 3-pointer from just a step inside the NBA-distance 3-point arc, but Archbishop Williams (22-2) ripped off the next 20 points to put the game away.

The play of AW senior Christine Duffy (11 points), with her myriad of sling passes and jumpers, the outside shooting of senior forward Casey Capello (game-high 19 points) as well as the play of 6-foot-3 sophomore center Valerie Driscoll (18 points), led to Quaboag's premature demise.

Senior Macey Gaumond, whose overtime 3-pointer two years ago clinched the Cougars' fourth state title against Cardinal Spellman, was able to end the drought with a 3-pointer from the side as the horn sounded to end the first half.

Archbishop Williams took a 32-19 lead into the locker room.

"The second quarter made the whole game," Quaboag coach John Vayda said. "They had that run and we only had that one field goal all quarter. Their 2-3 zone gave us a lot of problems, and we had a lot of problems finding girls open, and we had a hard time moving through the zone."

Gaumond hit a pair of free throws to open the third to make it an 11-point game, but the Cougars would not get any closer despite great efforts to do so: Meaghan O'Keefe hit a pair of deep 3s, her second boxed in by trifectas from Capello and Duffy.

Quaboag was able to end the third on a positive note, going on a 9-2 run after a 14-3 Archbishop Williams run.

"We had a little adjustment for them in the second half; I wish we had it for them in the first half," Vayda said.

Chance to make amends

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Chance to make amends
Sunday, March 16, 2008

They're back.

So is their opponent.

Which should make for an outstanding state Division III high school hockey final this afternoon in Boston when the Westfield Bombers (15-5-2) meet the Scituate Sailors (13-6-5) at TD Banknorth Garden at 12:30.

Westfield, which lost to Scituate, 1-0 in last season's final, advanced with a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Gardner on Thursday at Worcester's DCU Center. Before Westfield took the ice for that game, it watched some of Scituate's impressive 8-2 triumph over Marblehead.

Westfield coach C.B. "Moose" Matthews put his team through a light skate yesterday at Amelia Park Arena to prepare for Scituate's high-powered offense.

The Sailors' first line had five goals in the win over Marblehead. Danny Galvin had a hat trick and Pat Duggan added two goals. Mac Luciani, who transferred from Boston College High School, scored two goals.

"We'll put some guys on that top line," Matthews said. "Our kids want this game and last year's loss is a good motivator."

The Sailors also have plenty of motivation. Tim Mahoney, a sophomore defenseman, was killed in a car accident on Feb. 2 and Scituate's scheduled game the next day against East Longmeadow was canceled. His older brother Pat is a senior defenseman and prior to every game, Tim Mahoney's name is announced after his brother's in the starting lineup.

Scituate - stung by the tragedy - barely qualified for postseason with an 8-6-5 record, but the Sailors have caught fire and won five tournament games.

"Their defense likes to control the game," Matthews said. "We'll need to forecheck them hard."

It starts with defense with the Bombers, who have a Jekyll and Hyde offense. Westfield had a scoring parade in its sectional semifinal 7-4 decision over Minnechaug, but struggled to score three goals in each of its next two games.

Anthony Howard, Alex Foche, Colin Arnold and Nick Cocchi are solid defensively.

"I've got so much confidence in them," Matthews said.

Goaltender Alex Wiggs has made the clutch saves with the game on the line and has emerged from graduated goalie Mike Sullivan's shadow to give the Bombers solid work in net.

What's made this incredible ride to the final enjoyable for the Bombers is they have a different hero emerge each night.

"This year's team seems to be more united," Matthews said.

Against Minnechaug, it was Corey Bellamy, who scored two goals and set up another. Ryan Leonard scored twice in the sectional final when Westfield edged Longmeadow 3-2.

Dan Ross stepped up Thursday and figured in all three of his team's goals against Gardner. Ross had two goals and an assist.

"He's a senior and I told him this was his time to pick it up and he has," Matthews said.

Then there's Frere, who has scored in every tournament game. "We definitely don't want to lose to Scitutate twice in a row," Frere said.

Div 3. Grand finale for Hawks; Frontier guard steps up

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Div 3. Grand finale for Hawks; Frontier guard steps up
By Steve Kendall  
Sunday, March 16, 2008  

Scituate’s Keith Fluery goes to...
Photo by Matt Stone
Scituate’s Keith Fluery goes to the floor to grab a loose ball from Frontier’s Brennan McKenna.

WORCESTER - Heading into yesterday’s Division 3 state championship game, everyone knew about Frontier’s twin brothers, Dan and Brian Clark. Yesterday, they found out about Gary Grandonico.

Grandonico, who played sparingly in the tournament due to a sprained ankle, scored 14 of his 17 points in the final 10 minutes of the game, leading the Red Hawks to a 79-65 win over Scituate at the DCU Center. The 5-foot-10 junior guard also dished out four assists and put the exclamation point on the win with his steal and layup with a minute to play, putting the Red Hawks up by 12.

“Gary really stepped it up with Jamie (Bell) out (with an injury),” Frontier coach Marty Sanderson said. “Gary has been one of our starters and a consistent player all season, but he had been slowed by a sprained ankle. He did what he did (yesterday) on a leg-and-a-half.”

Brian Clark led Frontier (24-1) with 24 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots, while Dan Clark added 23 points and eight rebounds.

It is Frontier’s first state title in boys basketball since 1987, when future NFL standout Mark Chmura led the unbeaten Hawks over Fairhaven. Frontier lost to Lynn Tech in the 2002 final.

“We had talked about the history of the program and how great it would be to win a title like those guys did,” Brian Clark said. “It’s special to be a part of history here at Frontier.”

Rodney Beldo and Blaine O’Brien did most of the scoring for the Sailors, with 23 and 20 points, respectively.

The defeat ended a great run for the Sailors (22-3), who rallied from a big second-half deficit to knock off Watertown in the state semifinals.

“Rodney is a special player, as is Blaine,” Scituate coach Matt Poirier said. “All of our guys played hard, but Frontier just hit the shots they needed to make, and they did a great job on defense.”

With 1:58 left in the third quarter, Grandonico drained a 3-pointer that extended the lead to a game-high eight points (56-48).

Later, his back-to-back buckets capped a 9-4 run that gave Frontier a 67-56 advantage.

“When (Scituate) started pressing, it opened up a lot of space for Gary and he made some great decisions with the ball,” Sanderson said. “He wasn’t the only one who played well for us - everyone who was on that floor stepped up their game.”

In addition to the offense provided by the Clark brothers and Grandonico, the Red Hawks did an outstanding job defensively against a much larger opponent. Despite being outsized in the paint by 6-foot-9 Sean McCarthy and 6-10 Andrew McCarthy, the Red Hawks seemed more physical down low and more than held their own in the rebounding department.

As they pulled away in the fourth quarter, the Red Hawks held Scituate to one shot several times thanks to great work on the boards by the Clarks and Jon Pepyne.

“Pepyne played a great game,” Dan Clark said. “He played very physically on defense and came up with a few big plays on offense, as well. That’s what makes this team so special - we have a lot of guys who do their jobs really well.”

Neither team held more than a three-point lead until the final minute of the first half, when Frontier went up by seven. However, Scituate narrowed the deficit to 39-35 by halftime.

Div 2. Knights exact revenge; CM fulfills mission

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Div 2. Knights exact revenge; CM fulfills mission
By Dan Ventura  / Div. 2 Boys Final
Sunday, March 16, 2008  
Danny Ventura has been the Herald's authority on high school sports for 15 years. He also covers the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and college sports.

WORCESTER - The ride back to Catholic Memorial was a lot noisier this time around.

Julian Colarusso scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Knights avenged a loss to Tantasqua in last year’s Division 2 state final, snapping the Warriors’ 49-game unbeaten streak with a 74-56 victory.

Allen Harris added 11 points and nine rebounds for Catholic Memorial, which won its first state basketball title since 1969.
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“No one said a word on the bus ride home (last year),” said Harris. “All we wanted to do from that day was get one more chance to come back here.”

Tantasqua (24-1) jumped out to an early 11-3 lead, before the Catholic Memorial pressure took over. The Knights forced 15 first-half turnovers as they gradually assumed control of the game. They closed out the first quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 17-13 lead.

“We’re an experienced group, 12 of the 15 guys were back from last year,” said junior point guard Jeff Tagger. “We knew we had the speed advantage and we were able to use it.”

Catholic Memorial picked up where it left off at the end of the first quarter. The Knights scored 17 of the first 19 points in the second to take a commanding 34-15 lead, as Colarusso (18 first-half points) and Brendan Monteiro (16 points) got whatever they wanted at the offensive end.

“We’ve played quick teams before, but I have to be honest that we haven’t played a team that quick,” said Tantasqua coach Jeff Child, whose team turned the ball over 23 times. “We knew they were going to press and we worked extensively on breaking the press this week, but it is what it is. Monteiro, Tagger, Lincoln Wright - those guys are good guards.”

Even more important was the job the Knights (22-4) did in slowing down Tantasqua’s 6-foot-6 star Brian Vayda (21 points, 11 rebounds) in the first half. Using a variety of players on Vayda, Catholic Memorial limited him to six shot attempts in the first half, resulting in six points.

“We knew he was their best player, we knew most of the offense ran through him,” said Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin. “When he got it going in the third quarter, we switched defenses to try and get him out of his rhythm.”

Tantasqua made a run in the third quarter to get back into the game. Vayda scored 10 points in a four-minute stretch, and when Dan Kemp (12 points, 12 rebounds) stole a pass at midcourt and went in for a dunk, it was suddenly 46-37.

But this time the Knights made the plays when it counted. Colarusso snapped the skein with a power layup, then reserve David Grant (six points, seven rebounds) converted an offensive rebound, before Monteiro closed out the quarter with a layup and a 54-39 lead.

Tantasqua would get no closer than 14 points in the final quarter, as Catholic Memorial got its day in the sun nearly a full year later.

Div 2. Worth wait for Raiders; Wellesley rolls to first state title

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Div 2. Worth wait for Raiders; Wellesley rolls to first state title
By Bruce Lerch  / Div. 2 Girls Final
Sunday, March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - At long last, it’s time to clear space on the wall of the Wellesley High gymnasium for a girls basketball state championship banner.

Lindsay Sydness scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked seven shots, and the Raiders blew the game open with a 12-1 run to close the third quarter, defeating Millbury, 65-44, at the DCU Center to capture the Division 2 title for the first time in school history.

“What else is better than winning state championships?” Sydness said. “We have no banners at all, and every year, I look up at the walls in our gym and dream of getting a girls basketball banner up there. I’ll take a state banner any day.”

Wellesley (23-3) never trailed in the game, but the Woolies managed to keep things close until the final minutes of the third quarter. Millbury scored five straight points to narrow the Raiders’ margin to 36-31, causing Wellesley to call a timeout.

The Raiders promptly forced a turnover, and Sydness got the run started with a jumper from the free throw line. Blake Dietrick drained a 3-pointer, and the freshman capped the spurt with another trey at the buzzer, launching a running shot from deep to give the Raiders a 48-32 lead heading into the final quarter.

“We actually practiced that kind of shot (Friday),” Wellesley coach Kristin Cieri said. “She was a cool customer to make that one. . . . That shot gave us a lot of confidence.”

Millbury (21-4) struggled to get through the Raiders defense in the third, managing only six points on 2-for-13 shooting. The 6-foot-1 Sydness and 6-0 Jesse Miller (15 points, nine boards) clogged up the lanes, preventing the Woolies’ talented guards from penetrating into the paint.

“Lindsay is a lot longer than she is tall,” Cieri said. “The kids say all the time in practice that when those arms go up, it’s scary.”

Millbury trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half but used a 9-2 run to close the gap to 31-26 at the break. Sydney Bloomstein led a balanced Woolies offense with 11 points.

In the end, Wellesley was just too much for Millbury to handle, getting major contributions at both ends of the floor from Mary Louise Dixon and Dietrick. Dixon finished with 10 points and three steals, while Dietrick hit the pair of treys and helped keep the Woolies offense out of sync.cw2

On the offensive end, the Raiders’ performance yesterday was a departure from Tuesday, when they managed to score only 38 points against a stout Lincoln-Sudbury team at TD Banknorth Garden. In claiming its first state championship, Wellesley showed its true colors at both ends of the floor.

“This is the best team in Wellesley history,” Cieri said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of that.”

Div 1. Raiders get huge effort; Gonzalez steps forward in rout

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Div 1. Raiders get huge effort; Gonzalez steps forward in rout
By Dan Keats /  Div. 1 Boys Final
Sunday, March 16, 2008  

WORCESTER - In the last game of a storied high school career at Central Catholic, senior Adrian Gonzalez delivered for the Raiders when it mattered most.

The Bentley-bound forward pumped in 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting and added 14 rebounds and four steals, leading Central Catholic to its first state title since 1999 with a 68-47 win over St. John’s of Shrewsbury in the Division 1 championship game last night at the DCU Center.

“Best game of my life,” was how Gonzalez described his performance. “I loved playing every minute of it. Everyone gave their best effort. We all played hard and we ended up being up on top throughout the whole season.”

With his squad having seen a 16-point first-half lead evaporate, Gonzalez responded to stop a 7-0 run the Pioneers used to tie the game at 32 at the start of the third quarter. A Gonzalez bucket inside stemmed the tide and the Raiders led the rest of the way.

He showed he could post up, score off the dribble or step back and knock down the open jumper. He pushed the Central Catholic lead to 45-37 at the end of the third quarter with a three-point play, faking a pass to the right and going up with the left to finish off a drive down the lane and a free throw line jumper off an inbounds pass. In the game’s final nine minutes, Gonzalez had six field goals, while the entire St. John’s team managed just one.

The Pioneers struggled to find their shooting stroke for much of the game at 11-for-46 but really went ice-cold in the fourth, hitting on just 1-of-9 attempts. The only reason they were able to stay in the game for three quarters was a 23-of-37 performance at the free throw line. They also were hurt by committing 16 turnovers.

“I think this is the third time now in the state tournament where we played zone in the third, go into the fourth and completely shut down the opposing team,” Raiders coach Rick Nault said.

“I know we did it against BC High and Charlestown. This is how we practice. We practice with a lot of intensity, very physical practice and we said before the fourth quarter, ‘I want you to play this fourth quarter like we’re playing the defensive shell drill in practice.’ ”

Central Catholic (25-2) used a 20-2 burst in an 8:09 span of the first and second quarters to take command with a 23-7 lead as Gonzalez hurt St. John’s inside while senior Wilfredo Pagan (21 points) did it from the perimeter and by driving the lane.

St. John’s (21-7), which only has two seniors in its lineup, got back into the game behind 6-foot-9 junior center Matt LaBove, who had 15 points. David White added 10.

Super ending will be written

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Super ending will be written

By Matt Porter, Globe Correspondent  |  March 16, 2008

For the first time in Super 8 history, neither Catholic Memorial, BC High, nor Arlington Catholic will be crowned champion.

Reading could become the first public school to win the championship of the top division in the state since Hudson in 1978 when it takes on Malden Catholic tonight.

The Lancers will carry the parochial torch instead of BC High or Catholic Memorial, who have won all but one of the Super 8 titles in the tournament's 18-year history (Arlington Catholic won in 1997).

The Super 8 final at 7:30 is the last of four boys' hockey state title games at TD Banknorth Garden.

The Rockets' top line of Pat Kiley, Mike Lozzi, and Rob Toczylowski is a coach's dream. Kiley has sweet hands and vision, Toczylowski is a classic power forward, and smooth centerman Lozzi is the most complete player of the group.

But Reading's defensemen could make more of a difference. Garrett Collins, Travis Busch, Quinlan Junta, and John Michael Leach skate and shoot well and aren't averse to physical play.

Rockets goalie Jeff Wyer wasn't tested often in the regular season, but he hasn't allowed any soft goals in the tournament.

Greg Crovo the Lancers' best all-around player, controlling the game from the blue line. Forwards Andrew Cerretani, Craig Carbonneau, and Jason Yeomelakis bear watching as well.

If the Lancers can tire out Reading's top line, they should do well. But if Kiley, Toczylowski, and Lozzi control the puck for long stretches, it could be a long night for MC goalie John Carbonneau.

Division 1
Westford vs. Needham, 5 p.m. - Second chances are sweet. The two Super 8 play-in losers end up at the Garden anyway in a clash of opposing styles.

Westford began the postseason with a loss in a shootout after a scoreless game with Waltham, and needed overtime to get by St. Mary's in the quarterfinals. But the Ghosts hit the throttle, pounding St. Bernard's and Austin Prep by a combined score of 15-2. Senior Craig Cardone is Westford's top threat, but goals could come from any of three lines or the blue line. The Ghosts are aggressive, and a shootout-style game works heavily in their favor.

Needham doesn't have a list of proven threats, but the Rockets are a hard-hitting bunch led by defenseman Will Rayner. They've stifled opponents in the tournament - allowing just two goals - but they've scored only five. Seniors Cody Sharib and defenseman-turned-forward Mike Sharpe will hope others step up as the Rockets try to offset the loss of sophomore Michael Cox (shoulder injury).

In net, Westford's Curt Serafini had a few regular-season hiccups, but has dazzled in the tournament. Needham's Sam Gifford has 12 shutouts on the year - nearly half of the team's 25 games. He'll have to play well for Needham to win its first title since Robbie Ftorek's heyday.

Division 2
Sandwich vs. Wilmington, 2:45 p.m. - It's a battle of teams that dominated the regular season but haven't had a chance on the big stage. Both have shined in the spotlight so far. The Knights and Wildcats advanced to the Garden by shootouts. Sandwich beat Franklin, 1-0, and Wilmington beat Tewksbury, 4-3.

Sandwich is fast and balanced. The Knights lack superstars up front, but their defense is outstanding, led by junior Sean Gallagher. John O'Brien and Darryl Lawrie, a preseason transfer from the junior ranks, can also skate and move the puck. Freshman goalie Pat Harrington has handled the pressure well.

Wilmington is led by captain Ernie Mello, a running back on skates who can score. His centerman, Eric Siegel, is big and skilled, and Mike Enright is the spark plug of the top line. Wilmington has size on defense and Mike Cabral might be the hottest goalie in any tournament. Wilmington coach Steve Scanlon said his team is rife with nervous energy, and hopes it is ready after missing the tournament last year.

Division 3
Scituate vs. Westfield, 12:30 p.m. - Scituate will defend its title against the team it beat for the crown. The Bombers, the top seed in a four-team WMass bracket, advanced by beating CMass champ Gardner, 3-2, in the semifinals. Dan Ross, who had just 8 regular-season points, put up two goals in a comeback win over the highly regarded Wildcats. Though it plays strong team defense in front of junior Alex Wiggs, Westfield will need more than just Ross to step up the scoring if it wishes to compete with Scituate.

The Sailors have size and skill up front and have outscored foes, 25-9, in the tournament. Their top line of Jamie Pratt, Pat Duggan, and Dan Galvin is on fire, and they get second-line production from winger Mac Luciani, who played at BC High before transferring back to Scituate for his junior year.

Div. 1. Central Cath. 68, St. John's (S) 47; Central relies on buddy system

Sport:   Posted: March 16th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Div. 1. Central Cath. 68, St. John's (S) 47; Central relies on buddy system
By Chris Estrada
Globe Correspondent / March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - St. John's of Shrewsbury did a lot right in its state final against Central Catholic. The Pioneers held the Raiders' leading scorer, Billy Marsden, to 5 points before he fouled out. They were even more successful against sophomore big man Carson Desrosiers, who fouled out with 2 points.
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But the Pioneers had no answer for best friends Adrian Gonzales and Wilfredo Pagan. Senior forward Gonzales had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and senior guard Pagan (21 points) was a force on both ends as Central Catholic captured the Division 1 title with a 68-47 victory at the DCU Center.

"[Gonzales] knew he had an opportunity tonight to do something special, to have a legacy for himself and for the team," Central coach Richard Nault said. "Billy is our leading scorer and Adrian's our best player, so it's kind of tricky how teams choose to stop one and let the other one [go]. With [Gonzales's] rebounding and interior scoring, he's difficult to stop. You put a quicker guy on him, he'll score in the post. You put a bigger guy on him, he'll beat him off the dribble.

"[Pagan] is relentless. He plays just as hard on the defensive end as he does on the offensive end, and there's not a lot of kids that way."

The Raiders opened up a 29-16 lead, but St. John's went on a 9-3 run to cut its deficit to 32-25 at halftime.

The Pioneers continued their hot streak at the start of the third with a 7-0 run that was capped by a tying 3-pointer from sophomore David White (10 points).

Central decided to turn to its zone defense, which had worked well throughout the tournament. It did the trick last night as well.

"We switched it up a little bit to see how it would pay off," Gonzales said. "It went pretty good. With Billy having three of the best games of his life in the last three games [before] fouling out this game, we knew we had to play harder. Carson fouling out, that's our big presence in the paint. We knew we had to play harder and that's what we did. We played as hard as we can and we ended up getting the win by 21."

The Raiders began to take control with 22 seconds left in the third quarter, when a Gonzales bucket gave the Lawrence school a 45-37 lead. Relying on their tough defense, the Raiders went on a decisive 9-2 run that was punctuated by Pagan's steal-and-score off a St. John's inbound with 5:06 left in the game.

"We had to pressure the guards and make it tough for them to score," he said. "So we tried to pick up the guards full-court and make it tougher for them with the ball."

Pioneers coach Bob Foley praised the Raiders as "a very tough club," but was also pleased with his team's season despite its disappointing ending.

"I thought our kids fought back hard [in the second half]," Foley said. "But obviously, [Central Catholic's] a very good team and they're very well coached. It was just a great run for our kids."
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