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Harvard and Cornell set to clash again

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Harvard and Cornell set to clash again
By Eric Mchugh
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 19, 2008 @ 10:31 PM

Meanwhile, in other Big Red news

The Cornell men’s and women’s basketball teams are the darlings of their respective NCAA tournaments. The men, Ivy League champs for the first time in 20 years, are seeded 14th in the South Region and will play No. 3 Stanford today in Anaheim, Calif. The women, seeded 16th, draw mighty UConn in Bridgeport, Conn., on Sunday.

Good luck with that.

The men’s hockey team, on the other hand, is less of a long shot, but Harvard hopes to send it packing anyway.

Before both teams were eliminated in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals last season, Harvard and Cornell had met in the championship game four times in a five-year span with each team winning twice – Harvard in 2002 and ’06, Cornell in ’03 and ’05. Friday they will square off again, this time in the ECAC semifinals at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. (7 p.m.). The final is Saturday at 7 p.m.

“There’s definitely a history with these two teams meeting up,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato, who lives in Scituate. “The rivalry is alive and well.”

So are the Crimson, who appeared to be on life support during an 0-7-2 drought that stretched from Dec. 4 to Jan. 12. That slump might end up costing third-seeded Harvard (16-12-4) an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should it fail to win the ECAC crown and the automatic bid that goes with it. But Donato is proud that his guys have righted the ship to the tune of a 7-1-1 record since losing the Beanpot final (6-5 in overtime) to Boston College.

“It really was a great test of character for our guys to face that adversity and have that tough stretch during the year,” he said. “I really give a lot of credit to our senior leadership and our leadership on our team as a whole because things were not looking so good there for a little bit. Guys really dug deep and regrouped and decided what we needed to be as a team to be successful. To end up back in Albany is a tribute (to them).”

While No. 8 Colgate (18-16-6) tangles with No. 2 Princeton (19-13-0) in the other semifinal, Harvard will try to go 3-0 against fifth-seeded Cornell (18-13-3) this season. The Crimson won both regular-season meetings, 2-1 and 3-1 – scores befitting the two top defensive teams in the league.

“Both games were very close-to-the-vest, tight-checking affairs, very emotional,” Donato said. “We expect more of the same.”

Sophomore forward Colin Greening is Cornell’s leading scorer (13 goals, 19 assists, 32 points) and is on a seven-game points streak (5-6–11). Freshman forward Riley Nash (12-19–31) is right behind him. The Big Red even has a South Shore connection with the Devin brothers of Scituate. Mike, a freshman defenseman, is 4-10–14 in 33 games, and Joe, a freshman forward, is 3-0–3 in 22 games.

“Mike is one of their power-play defensemen. He’s had a very good year,” said Donato, who is friends with one of the Devins’ neighbors. “And Joe has had some big goals for them and been very solid.”

Senior Mike Taylor (12-20–32) is Harvard’s top scorer, one point ahead of sophomore Doug Rogers (13-18–31). Taylor and senior defenseman Dave Watters each was 3-5–8 in a wild, three-game win over Quinnipiac in the ECAC quarterfinals. Harvard won the first game, 11-0 – its biggest offensive output since a 12-1 drubbing of Yale on Dec. 11, 1993. Quinnipiac bounced back to take Game 2, 7-4, before Harvard closed out the series with a 3-1 victory last Sunday night.

With 18 goals in three games against Quinnipiac, Harvard hopes it has addressed its main weakness – a lack of firepower. During the nine-game winless streak, for example, the Crimson scored only 16 goals.

“We’ve done a better job of establishing our forecheck,” Donato said. “Our special teams have been much improved, and we’ve started games much better. We’ve put ourselves in a position of being ahead and controlling the tempo of the game and the style of the game. Our offense has been much improved throughout the season.”

BCs Gibbons has no fear

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

BC’s Gibbons has no fear
Braintree forward playing big for Eagles
By Eric Mchugh
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Mar 20, 2008 @ 03:21 AM

Finally, Nathan Gerbe can see eye-to-eye with his center.

Gerbe, Boston College’s 5-foot-5 junior dynamo, spent much of last season paired with 6-7 giant Brian Boyle of Hingham (until Boyle switched back to defense for the playoffs). These days, Gerbe is skating with 5-8 Brian Gibbons of Braintree.

So, no more kinks in the neck if Gerbe wants to talk strategy with his linemate on the bench.

“There’s some size (difference) there,” Gerbe said with a laugh, “but Brian Gibbons plays a lot bigger than he is. He hits tremendously hard. He’s probably one of the hardest hitters on the team. And he’s not scared to get in the corners. I think that’s what will benefit him down the road.”

Gibbons’ fearlessness is part of the reason that his future is so bright at the Heights. Yet he’s already paying dividends. He was the Beanpot MVP in February, and although he’s not the Eagles’ highest-scoring freshman – that honor belongs to Joe Whitney, who is tied for second in Hockey East with 45 points (seven goals, 38 assists) – Gibbons (11-16–27) does lead all Hockey East skaters with a plus-25 rating.

“That’s a remarkable stat,” said BC coach Jerry York, whose fourth-seeded Eagles (19-11-8) will face No. 1 New Hampshire (25-8-3) in the first game of tomorrow’s Hockey East semifinal doubleheader at TD Banknorth Garden (5 p.m.). No. 2 Boston University (19-16-4) meets No. 3 Vermont (16-14-7) at 8 p.m.

Having good linemates – Gerbe (27-25–52) is the league’s top gun, and Ben Smith (19-21–40) is seventh in Hockey East in scoring – certainly has aided Gibbons’ cause. Yet the plus-minus number also is a testament to Gibbons’ commitment to defense, an approach he honed last season after transferring from Thayer Academy to Salisbury (Conn.) School for his senior year.

Gibbons had poured in 57 points in 30 games for Thayer as a sophomore (he committed to BC right after that breakout season) but his numbers were much more tame at Salisbury (27 points in 25 games). Former Salisbury coach Dan Donato (his brother, Ted, coaches Harvard) said some misinterpreted Gibbons’ decline in production.

“A lot of people assumed that he had just an OK year, but actually I think Brian had a terrific year and learned some things on the other side of the puck,” said Donato, now coaching at Dexter School in Brookline. “I think he became a more complete player, a two-zone player.”

Gibbons said he had a blast at Salisbury, centering Michael Biega (now at Harvard) and Weymouth’s Paul Carey, who is starring in the USHL and will play at BC next season. “At Thayer we weren’t as talented as we were at Salisbury,” Gibbons said. “I didn’t have to carry the team, but I had to put up a lot of points to try to help us win. Then when I went to Salisbury there were a lot more talented kids around. We had plenty of offense, so I worked hard on the defensive zone.

“I think Coach Donato taught me a lot. I wouldn’t say I was a liability (before on defense), but I think I was more of an offensive player at Thayer. At Salisbury I became more of a two-way player.”

Gerbe said he appreciates Gibbons’ defensive mindset, which he said brings balance to the line. And York raves about Gibbons’ on-ice IQ. “He’s got great defensive instincts,” the coach said. “He knows how to play without the puck, and that’s the hardest thing. As you get older, everybody’s pretty good with the puck, but he has a sense of who to cover, where the danger areas are.”

Gibbons, whose older brother Mike plays at Division 3 Skidmore College, has shown flashes of offensive potential, including in the Beanpot final when he scored twice in a 6-5 OT win over Harvard. York predicts big goal totals for him down the road but said Gibbons’ main job now is to be a “set-up guy” for Gerbe. Not a bad gig.

“It’s almost scary how good he is,” Gibbons said of his left wing.

BC will need all of Gerbe’s (and Gibbons’) skill against New Hampshire, which went 3-0 against BC during the regular season and allowed the Eagles only three goals.

“They’ve had our number this year,” Gibbons said. “This week in practice everyone has been real focused. It’s been pretty intense.”

Added Gerbe: “We were kind of laid back when we started the games, and they took it right to us. They’re a very good team. We can’t let them dictate the game. We have to go out there and play hard and get in their face.”

Eric McHugh may be reached at emchugh@ledger.com.

Stoughton star 2-sport athlete at Rhode Island University

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Stoughton star 2-sport athlete at Rhode Island University
By Jared Sugerman
GateHouse News Service
Posted Mar 20, 2008 @ 03:39 AM

If playing one sport as a Division 1 college student-athlete is a full-time commitment, then time must move more slowly for Shawn Leonard.

A 2005 graduate of Stoughton High School, Leonard is a member of both, the track and football teams at the University of Rhode Island.

In his leisure time, the junior works toward his degree in communications.

“The first year, it was a little overwhelming,” Leonard said. “The timing is tough, but you really get used to it. The times of day that they allot for you to get work done, you try to really take advantage of that.”

Of course, working through adversity is nothing out of the ordinary for Leonard.

In 2000, he was diagnosed with a disease known as Osteochondritis, which caused his femur bones to deteriorate due to a lack of sufficient blood flow to the knees.

To allow the blood to reach the bones, Leonard had holes drilled into each of his legs. The operation cured the Osteochondritis, but it left Shawn essentially immobilized.

“He had a wheelchair, but to move up and down in the house, his brothers and all of us would carry him,” said Shawn’s mother, Anne Marie.

Leonard’s brothers, Eric and Jason, shared Shawn’s athletic prowess and penchant for competition. Eric won three conference championships as an offensive tackle at Curry, and Jason helped the UMass football team to the Div. 1-AA national championship game in 2006.

“Our parents must have given us something,” quipped Leonard.

With his family’s assistance, Leonard was eventually allowed to move out of the wheelchair and on to crutches, which he had to learn to use without putting pressure on his legs.

After about six months of physical therapy, he was allowed to compete athletically.

“I keep thinking back to when we watched him to try to play, and he just couldn’t move right,” said Anne Marie. “He just didn’t have the strength to keep up.”

But eventually, Leonard not only regained his strength, also he found that he had some additional strength that had not been there prior to his surgery.

“Our joke around here was that Dr. Micheli put springs in Shawn’s knees,” Anne Marie said.

Leonard parlayed his new-found leaping ability into a spot on the Stoughton High track squad, and he later went on to become the state-champion in the high jump.

But college football coaches didn’t see what Leonard had to offer, in part because he missed most of his junior season with a broken collarbone.

So Leonard went to Rhode Island with only a partial track scholarship.

“It definitely put a chip on my shoulder,” said Leonard, who started his collegiate football career as a walk-on punter.

“I wanted to play the game, but not because they were paying me to be there. It made me have to be that much better than everyone else. Usually, they want to play the guys that are on scholarship, so to get the chance, you’ve got to make sure you’re putting forth that extra effort.”

After red-shirting his freshman year, Leonard got his chance, and it was one that he was prepared to seize.

“Playing backyard football, I’ve always been running around and catching the ball,” Leonard said. “Catching the ball, for me, is a natural thing, and that definitely helped me out going in.”

Leonard was the Rams’ leading receiver in 2006 and 2007, catching a total of 52 passes for 848 yards and five touchdowns.

He also helped the URI men’s track team win the indoor and outdoor Atlantic 10 Championships.

“It’s been a great experience to be able to play two sports in college,” Leonard said.

Gloucester's Hickey named All-Northeast Region

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Gloucester's Hickey named All-Northeast Region
Staff Report

Gloucester native and Wheaton College women's basketball standout Krystin Hickey has been named to the D3hoops.com All-Northeast Region second team.

The 5-foot-9 junior forward is one of just 16 players from the region to earn an honor from the organization. D3hoops.com awards are voted upon by regional sports information directors.

Earlier this winter Hickey, who played her high school basketball at New Hampton School in Manchester, N.H., was named to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) all-league first team. She became the first Lyon to draw a D3hoops.com accolade in the seven years the organization has honored student-athletes.

Hickey led Wheaton in scoring (13.6), and was fifth among all NEWMAC players. She also had an efficient year shooting the ball, hitting 51.7 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent on 3-pointers. She also connected on 77.3 percent of her free throws.

On January 30, she became the ninth Wheaton player, and the first junior, to reach 1,000 points for her career. She is currently sixth all-time with 1,168 points.

Perhaps most important, Hickey helped lead the Lyons back to the Division 3 NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Wheaton finished the season at 22-8 after falling to Tufts University, 71-67, in the first round of the tourney. She also helped Wheaton win its first league crown since 1994-1995.

Area Boys Basketball scoring leaders - Eagle Tribune

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Area Boys Basketball scoring leaders - Eagle Tribune


Drew Smith%Timberlane%20%472%23.6

Romeo Diaz%Methuen%20%437%21.9

Justin Hojlo%Pelham%23%476%20.7

Alex Skinner%Brooks%24%459%19.1

Billy Marsden%Central%24%457%19.0

Jaymie Spears%Georgetown%22%412%18.7

Beau Cassidy%Pinkerton%23%400%17.4

Jordan Mickens%Brooks%23%397%17.3

Adrian Gonzalez%Central%23%388%16.9

Donald Celestin%Gr. Lawrence%18%291%16.2

Josh Jones%Salem%25%400%16.0

Kevin Lentini%North Reading%22%349%15.9

Steve Boudreau%North Andover%22%334%15.2

Mike Kimball%Salem%25%375%15.0

Matt Travalini%Londonderry%22%316%14.4

Ricky Costa%Pelham%20%278%13.9

Trevor Glines%Fellowship%16%219%13.7

Sean McManus%North Andover%20%268%13.4

Hayden Yeazel%North Andover%21%267%12.7

Bobby Wunsch%Londonderry%23%279%12.1

Edwin Gonzalez%Methuen%20%230%11.5

Zach Mathieu%Pinkerton%23%264%11.5

Robby Ficker%Sanborn%12%137%11.4

Tristian Shannon%Andover%23%258%11.2

Gerry Littles%Whittier%20%221%11.1

Carson Desrosiers%Central%27%298%11.0

Jordan Silva%Pentucket%19%206%10.8

Liam Crawford%Pentucket%20%214%10.7

Dante Perella%Whittier%14%148%10.6

Shawn Stoodley%Salem%25%252%10.1

Mike Gorman%Methuen%22%221%10.0

Julio Colon%Georgetown%22%213%9.7

Kelvin Correa%Gr. Lawrence%18%172%9.6

Kevin O'Leary%North Reading%21%198%9.4

Jamie Vaiknoras%Pelham%23%212%9.2

Colby Verge%Pinkerton%23%212%9.2

Derrick Beasley%Andover%23%206%9.0

Rob Verreault%Sanborn%21%189%9.0

Damian Colman%Whittier%20%179%9.0

Tim Holland%Georgetown%20%173%8.7

Dan Kinney%Salem%25%216%8.6

Ben Proulx%Pinkerton%23%194%8.4

Zach Burdeau%Andover%23%189%8.2

Brian Cabrera%Gr. Lawrence%20%161%8.1

Ryan Griffin%Londonderry%16%130%8.1

Jordan Johnson%Brooks%24%186%7.8

Mike Donovan%Timberlane%20%157%7.8

Desmond Lumpkins%Londonderry%23%176%7.7

Wilfredo Pagan%Central%27%208%7.7

John Finch%North Reading%22%169%7.7

Kevin Sledge%Salem%24%179%7.5

Dino Rizzo%North Reading%22%166%7.5

Brandon Sheehy%Whittier%20%139%7.0

Greg Cook%Andover%23%158%6.9

Erik Hatton%Timberlane%20%137%6.8

Leandro Vasquez%Gr. Lawrence%20%135%6.8

Nate Adames%Gr. Lawrence%17%115%6.8

Evan Williams%Timberlane%20%129%6.5

Joey Rivera%Gr. Lawrence%14%91%6.5

Grant Hebert%Pelham%20%123%6.2

Brian Lundquist%Fellowship%16%99%6.2

Hector Heredia%Gr. Lawrence%20%120%6.0

High Games

51 — Romeo Diaz, Methuen vs. Dracut

40 — Justin Nieves, Lawrence vs. Tewksbury

38 — Justin Nieves, Lawrence vs. Pinkerton

37 — Justin Hojlo, Pelham vs. Laconia

36 — Drew Smith, Timberlane (twice) vs. Memorial, North

35 — Justin Hojlo, Pelham vs. Kearsarge

34 — Alex Skinner, Brooks vs. Middlesex

33 — Billy Marsden, Central vs. Lawrence

32 — Drew Smith, Timberlane (three times) vs. Salem, Dover, Merrimack

31 — Jorge Escoto, Lawrence vs. Methuen

31 — Jordan Mickens, Brooks vs. St. Paul

31 — Adrian Gonzalez, Central vs. Lawrence

31 — Mike Kimball, Salem vs. Bishop Guertin

Total 3-pointers


Alex Skinner%Brooks%98

Beau Cassidy%Pinkerton%84

Sean McManus%North Andover%55

Billy Marsden%Central%53

Matt Travalini%Londonderry%53

Justin Hojlo%Pelham%53

Mike Gorman%Methuen%53

Jordan Mickens%Brooks%49

Greg Cook%Andover%36

Trevor Glines%Fellowship%35

Romeo Diaz%Methuen%32

Liam Crawford%Pentucket%32

Mike Kimball%Salem%30

Drew Smith%Timberlane%29

Edwin Gonzalez%Methuen%28

Mike Donovan%Timberlane%28

Jaymie Spears%Georgetown%27

Damian Colman%Whittier%27

Dante Perella%Whittier%26

Josh Jones%Salem%24

Jordan Silva%Pentucket%23

Kevin Sledge%Salem%23

Tom O'Connell%North Andover%22

Donald Celestin%Gr. Lawrence%22

John Finch%North Reading%21

3-pointers in a game

8 — Justin Nieves, Lawrence vs. Tewksbury

7 — Alex Skinner, Brooks (twice)

7 — Jordan Mickens, Brooks vs. St. Paul

7 — Justin Nieves, Lawrence vs. Pinkerton

7 — Beau Cassidy, Pinkerton vs. Timberlane

6 — Sean McManus, North Andover vs. Wilmington

6 — Javier Bristol, Haverhill vs. Central Catholic

6 — Jaymie Spears, Georgetown vs. Masco

6 — Alex Skinner, Brooks vs. Lawrence Academy

Eagle-Tribune Boys Basketball Fab 5

1. Central Catholic%25-2

2. Salem%24-1

3. Brooks%18-6

4. Pelham%19-4

5. North Andover%16-6

Honorable mention: Georgetown (14-8), Londonderry (15-8)

Fila hopes tourney berth is in English softball's future this season

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Fila hopes tourney berth is in English softball's future this season

By Joyce Erekson / The Daily Item

English softball coach Alisa Fila looks on as Tiffany Drown makes a catch Wednesday at practice. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

LYNN -- English High softball coach Alisa Fila has high hopes that this year's team will have the horses to qualify for the state tournament.

The Bulldogs finished 8-12 last year. This year's numbers are good, with 55-56 girls showing up for tryouts earlier this week. Fila has some experienced players returning, including sophomore catcher Cara Crowley, who hit in the .400s to lead the team. Valerie Fiaccaprile, also a sophomore, patrols centerfield, and she gives the Bulldogs some speed in the leadoff spot.

English's returning contingent also includes junior first baseman Lauren Walsh, who started last year; junior Danielle Burke, a reserve outfielder; senior right fielder Aleasha Despres; and senior second baseman Kristi Rebidue. Junior Jackie Trapula also saw time at second. English could also get some help from junior Jenny Mageary, who transferred from St. Mary's this year.

Amanda Witunsky is back at third and she's available to pitch if she's needed. The Bulldogs lost their ace, Debbie Santos, to graduation. Santos is now playing at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. English also lost its shortstop, Katie Gouthro, to graduation.

The good news for Fila is that she has several talented pitchers to try to fill the void, including Tiffany Drown, who bounced between junior varsity and varsity last year, and freshmen Cathia Hernandez and Stephanie Scherrer.

"We had a good amount of talent show up," Fila said, adding she saw some players from Marshall Middle School and Pickering who show some potential.

Lynn English softball player Kristi Rebidue, center, stretches before practice Wednesday. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

"We're planning on making the tournament," Fila said. "We're going to focus on being a team, working as a team, and hopefully it will come together. I think we're going to have a good year. If we can find a consistent pitcher, we have our No. 4 hitter back (Crowley)."

Fila said she also has some players who were on the junior varsity last year who could make an impact at the varsity level this year.

Classical, English join forces for Lynn lacrosse team

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Classical, English join forces for Lynn lacrosse team

By Joyce Erekson / The Daily Item

Captain Dan Lucier gets his work in during Wednesday's practice. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

LYNN -- The imaginary line that separates East Lynn from West Lynn blurred a little this winter with merger of the English and Classical hockey teams, and it's even fuzzier this spring now that the rival schools have also joined forces in lacrosse.

The Lynn lacrosse team (there is no team nickname) hit the Manning Field turf running this week with 63 players (51 from Classical and 12 from English) showing up for tryouts. Coach Chris Simbliaris has since trimmed the list to 54.

Simbliaris is excited about the team's prospects this season, despite the fact neither Lynn team fared well last year. Classical finished 2-16, but Simbliaris said he knew it would be a rebuilding year. The team lost 11 seniors from the 2006 squad that qualified for the state tournament for the first time in the history of the program.

Simbliaris had many underclassmen playing last year, and he's hoping the year of experience, combined with the influx of players from English, will translate into some success this year.

"It's definitely going to be a good year for the program," he said, "I think it's a win-win situation for both teams."

Simbliaris said many of the players already knew each other through other sports, like hockey, baseball and soccer, so it hasn't been much of an adjustment.

"The kids really don't care (about the team being merged). They just want to play the game," he said.

Simbliaris is still sorting through the talent, but there are several players from both teams who he expects will be key in the team's success. He has three senior captains, defenseman Alex Lewis and midfielder Kris Murphy from Classical, and junior defender Dan Lucier from English. Senior defender Chris Voyiagis (Classical), attackman Tim Shirley (English) and goalie Chris D'Onofrio have also stood out in the pack.

When the Classical and English hockey teams merged for the 2007-08 season, one of the big questions involved team colors. Combining maroon and gray with green and gold was a challenge, so the hockey team went with a neutral color scheme in red, white and blue. The hockey team also went with a neutral nickname, the Jets.

The lacrosse team will forgo a nickname, according to Simbliaris. The team will wear green helmets and green gloves. The home jersey will be gray and the away shirt will be black; the shorts will also be black.

Lynn captain Al Lewis, left, and junior Tim Shirley work out at practice Wednesday at Manning Field. (ITEM PHOTO / REBA M. SALDANHA)

The one semi-casualty of the merger is the Lynn tournament, which featured all four teams (Classical, English, St. Mary's and Tech) last year. Tech coach Brad Tilley has opted to not have his team play in the tournament, leaving only the combined Lynn team and St. Mary's.

Simbliaris said the Lynn team will play the Spartans for the championship, and next year, there will be two new teams in the tournament to bring the total back to four. In addition to its Northeastern Conference schedule, the Lynn team will play non-league games against Bishop Fenwick, North Reading, Wakefield, Pentucket and St. Mary's. Lynn opens the season Thursday, April 3, at home against Fenwick.

Joining Simbliaris on the bench will be Ed Brandt, a former Waltham High varsity assistant coach. Peter Papagianopoulos, who teaches at Classical's 9th-grade academy, will also help out. The team will tune up for opening day with scrimmages against Manchester-Essex and Burlington.

Center Court hosts star tilts

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Center Court hosts star tilts
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Most of the top Western Massachusetts boys basketball players from all three divisions will have a chance to shine one more time tonight at the mecca for basketball.

The first annual Western Massachusetts High School All-Star Games will take place tonight at Center Court of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The brainchild of Greg Procino, manager of events and awards at the Hall of Fame, as well as area high school coaches and administrators, the event will feature two all-star games. The first will pit the Division II all-stars against the Division III all-stars at 7 p.m. The second game will pit two Division I all-star teams at 8:30.

"We thought it might be a good idea to showcase them at the end of their career," said Procino, who organized the Spalding Hoophall Classic in January. "It's a unique setting and a unique court. Because it's an all-star game, it will be fun and competitive."

The only other basketball all-star game in the region is the Hampshire/Franklin IAABO Senior All-Star games that were held last week at Frontier Regional in South Deerfield.

Those games featured a boys game and a girls game. These new all-star games differ in that, for now, there is only two boys games, and that the talent comes from all corners of Western Massachusetts.

"The natural progression is we're hoping to bring the girls in next year," said Cathedral coach Gene Eggleston, who has been one of the event's organizers from the beginning. "My thoughts are that sometime down the road we can play an all-star game with Central Mass."

Procino said there have only been a few basketball games played at Center Court since the opening of the shrine at its present location. The NCAA Elite Eight All-Star game, which will take place March 28, the night before the Division II national championship game at the MassMutual Center, has been played twice at Center Court.

Enfield High School has played there as well, competing in a doubleheader recently, and a few AAU and CYO basketball games have been held at Center Court.

The idea of the game formed when Procino and Eggleston were attending a basketball game and Procino brought up the idea of a local all-star game.

"A couple of weeks later he called me up and said I think we want to do it," Eggleston said.

The two talked to other coaches such as Central's Mike Labrie, Holyoke's Bill Rigali, West Springfield's Chris Gerber, Westfield's Bill Daly and South Hadley's Jeff Guiel, as well as Springfield Public School officials Jack Maloney and Mike Martin.

Players were selected, teams were picked, referees got on board and the event was ready to go. From inception to event, the all-star games came together in a less than two months.

Ludlow coach Wayne Donaldson will coach the Division I team No. 1, while Daly will coach team No. 2. Greenfield coach Scott Thayer will lead the Division II squad and Jim Mack of Sabis will coach the Division III team.

The event, which will have no presale of tickets and will cost $7 for adults and $5 for students for admission, will be an excellent opportunity for college coaches to scout what Western Massachusetts has to offer.

Division I team No. 1 will feature Joe Ragland of West Side, Nick Ahmed of East Longmeadow, Preye Preboye of Central, Alex Berthiaume of Cathedral and Adrian Welch of Sci-Tech.

Division I team No. 2 will have Pat Donnelly of the sectional champion Longmeadow, Brennan Cooper of Northampton, Derek D'Amours of Agawam and Alex Frazier of Westfield.

The Division II team will feature Ryan Garvey and Colin Lacey of the Division II Western Mass. champion South Hadley, Ed Carter of Mohawk, D.J. Bailey of Palmer and Travelle Spratling of Taconic.

The Division III team will have twins Brian and Dan Clark of state champion Frontier Regional, Cody Snow and Alex Klepadlo of Pioneer Valley and Quinton McMillian of Sabis.

"I think it will be a nice end to the year for the seniors," Eggleston said. "I think it's going to be fun, and I think it can build into something super."

Mejia is Gatorade P.O.Y.

Sport:   Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Mejia is Gatorade P.O.Y.
by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com

Lawrence Academy standout Steve Mejia has been named the Gatorade boys' basketball Player of the Year for Massachusetts.

Mejia, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior guard, averaged 19.7 points and 4.3 assists per game, while guiding the Spartans to a 23-4 record and the NEPSAC Class C title game (where Lawrence fell to Florida-bound Erik Murphy and St. Mark's).

Mejia will attend the University of Rhode Island.

Click the link below to read the full press release on Mejia's award.

    CHICAGO (March 19, 2008) — In its third decade of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in partnership with RISE Magazine, today announced Stevie Mejia of Lawrence Academy as its 2007-08 Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Mejia is Gatorade P.O.Y.
by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com     

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Mejia as Massachusetts’ best high school boys basketball player. Mejia is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award to be announced in March.

    The 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior point guard averaged 19.7 points and 4.3 assists per game this season, leading the Spartans (23-4) to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class C championship game, where they fell to Saint Mark’s, 62-43. A two-time Independent School League Most Valuable Player and two-time National Prep School Invitational All-Tournament Team selection, Mejia added 4.2 assists and 2.8 steals per contest this winter.

    Mejia has maintained a B average in the classroom. He participates in numerous community service-project initiatives, volunteering as a mentor at YMCA of South Boston/Halifax County in addition to donating his time to Greater Lawrence Head Start, a comprehensive social services program for low-income children and their families.

    “The reason he’s successful is he always has a chip on his shoulder,” said Mike Byrnes, head coach of rival Winchendon School. “He may be undersized, which he is, but he proves them wrong with his toughness, which he always does. As far as his toughness and his competitiveness and will to lead, he has all those intangibles which are impossible to coach.”

    Mejia has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of Rhode Island this fall.

    The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field. The selection process is administered by RISE Magazine, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

    Mejia joins recent Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Basketball Players of the Year Mike Baldarelli (2006-07, Holy Name Central Catholic), Jimmy O'Keefe (2005-06, Lexington), and Nick Pontes (2004-05, New Bedford), among the state’s list of former award winners.

    For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit gatorade.com/playeroftheyear.

Wells' Moore steps down from basketball post

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Wells' Moore steps down from basketball post

By Mike Smith
March 20, 2008 6:00 AM

Wells High School boys basketball coach Jay Moore is resigning after 21 years. Kevin A. Byron/ kbyron@ seacoastonline.com

Jay Moore has been the varsity boys basketball coach at Wells High School for the past 17 years. He led them to 154 wins, tournament appearances in 12 of the past 13 years and 13 overall.

But with Moore's own children reaching high school and middle school age, a difficult decision had to be made, and as would be expected, family won out and Moore has resigned as head boys basketball coach at Wells.

"Jay has decided to step down to spend more time with his family," Wells athletic director Joe Schwartzman said. "His daughter will be entering the ninth grade next year and his son will be in the seventh grade and he wants to watch them play. He has coached here at Wells High School for 21 years (four as the JV coach). He has done an outstanding job. He has been a fixture at Wells for so many years, and will be missed. He is continuing as a teacher but feels that family comes first."

Moore admits the choice was difficult, but that ultimately there was really only one option where family is concerned.

"It was a tough decision to leave the game," Moore said. "But it was not a tough decision for the sole reason that it was for my family. I have two kids. My daughter (Emily) will be going into the ninth grade and the way the (basketball) schedules work, there would be no way for me to be able to coach and still see my daughter's team. That was the sole reason for me stepping down.

"There are a lot of things I'll miss about coaching, but I know in my heart I'm doing this for the right reason," Moore continued. "The next four years will fly right by and you can't take that time back."

Moore could foresee this time approaching as his children were growing up.

"I knew this day was going to come," Moore said. "Unless my daughter gave up the game altogether, I was going to have to do this. It happens to everybody. My son (Zachary) is in seventh grade. I'll help out with their teams so I'll still be around the game, it just won't be as a coach at Wells. Maybe I'll get back into it later. I think I'll be back (some day) in some capacity."

With spring around the corner, and a season having just completed, it might not be that difficult to hang up the whistle. However, that may change come November.

"I think I'll try to keep myself busy going to my kids' games," said Moore at the prospect of not being on the court when practice begins at Wells some eight months from now. "I will certainly miss being around the players and coaches and I will miss the in-game intensity, the Xs and Os and the split-second decision making. I know I'll miss that."

Moore met with his players and gave them the news last Friday.

"Some were surprised but they understand why I'm doing it," Moore said. "They all said, 'Thanks,' and wished me luck and I told them to keep working hard. The next coach will be fortunate. There are some fine classes coming up.We graduated seven seniors but there are some nice kids on younger teams. The future looks bright."

Moore said stepping aside was hard.

"You invest a lot of time during the season and in the summer," Moore said. "You want to see them grow and you want to be part of the process. But my family, my wife (Nancy) and my kids have paid the price and now it's time to give time back to them."

Moore has many special memories over the years, and while he is proud of the consistency his teams showed by qualifying for the post-season 12 of the last 13 years, there were two individual games which stood out.

"In 1995-96 we were the No. 9 seed and we beat No. 1 Greely 64-60. I'll always remember that," Moore said. "We shot 27-29 from line. Another game I'll remember was in the 04-05 season when we lost in the semifinals to Falmouth in overtime with 1.4 seconds left, that was a tough one to swallow. It would have put us in the Western Maine finals."

Moore also mentioned a 2003-4 tournament at Disney World where Wells went 2-1.

Moore's teams went a total of 154-172, but a couple of negatively lopsided seasons skewed those numbers. Among his four seasons as a JV coach and his 17 years as a varsity coach, including Christmas tournament games, Moore figures he coached about 500 games at Wells.

But that run has come to an end, at least for now.

Pro scouts visit Orono to see firsthand the latest group of Black Bears hoping to play for pay.

Sport: Football  Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

It's spring final exams, the athletic kind
Pro scouts visit Orono to see firsthand the latest group of Black Bears hoping to play for pay.

By JENN MENENDEZ, Staff Writer March 20, 2008

ORONO — With every muscle tensed, every ounce of strength mustered, tight end Matt Mulligan bench-pressed 225 pounds 34 times in a row Wednesday.

His teammates on the University of Maine football team crowded around him, cheering and recording the scene with cell phones and digital cameras.

Pro day. It has become a rite of spring in Orono.

Mulligan, along with Bruno Dorismond, Anthony Cotrone and Reggie Paramoure, worked out for three NFL scouts and a fourth from the Arena Football League, hoping to draw interest for next month's NFL draft.

"For every kid that plays the game of football, along the way you have a few dreams," said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove.

Scouts have been coming to Maine for decades to evaluate players in the spring, but in the last several years the event has grown in notoriety.

Seven former Maine football players saw playing time in the NFL last fall, a rarity for a Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) program.

The Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons sent scouts to Maine for Wednesday's evaluation. One from the Albany Conquest also attended.

The players were tested on bench press, vertical jump, 40-yard dash and agility drills.

Mulligan, 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, is a long shot for next month's draft and is more likely to have a chance as a priority free agent.

"They said I play faster than what I ran today but that I'm quick for a big dude," said Mulligan, who grew up in West Enfield. "They said that's not why they came to watch me."

Mulligan's strength is his blocking and his upside is his short football resume: He started just four years ago at Husson College and previously played soccer and basketball in high school.

"He has a lot of upside. They can mold him. And his strength is a big plus," said Mulligan's agent, Kristen Kuliga. "I already talked to one scout who said he did a good job."

Maine assistant coach Phil McGeoghan said Mulligan prepared well.

"You train for months and months for one afternoon in the middle of March," said McGeoghan. "I think he's going to get a shot to go to a camp and compete. It's all you can ask."

Cosgrove said Mulligan reminds him of another former UMaine player, Daren Stone, who was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons last year and played 12 games at safety last season.

"I always said if a team can be patient with Daren, they will reap the benefits of a great football player," said Cosgrove. "If a team can be patient with Matthew and give him a chance to catch up with football

"Does he have the natural instinctive touch and feel some of these guys have had? Probably not. But he will work at it, I promise you that."

Dorismond, a 6-4, 283-pound defensive tackle, has been training since graduating in December. He said he will be waiting to hear from his agent.

"It was a great experience," he said. "I can't ask for much more."

The dozens of Maine players who came to watch were silent at times, gazing intently.

"I had the chills just watching," said junior defensive end Jovan Belcher. "I can't imagine how that felt for them."

Cosgrove said he believes the recent success of Maine players has a little to do with having something to prove.

"We don't get blue-chip recruits, highly ranked guys," said Cosgrove. "We get a lot of guys with a chip on their shoulder about getting overlooked. That's not a bad thing in football."

Defensive lineman Bryan Grier also had been working out in preparation for pro day but was arrested Monday for an alleged carjacking in Portsmouth, N.H. He was released on personal recognizance bail and ordered to seek mental health treatment.

Cosgrove said Grier had been a good student and fine representative of the program.

"It really caught us all here by surprise," said Cosgrove. "It was a side we never saw here. I don't know what led up to this."

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:


Chase resigns after 2 seasons

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Chase resigns after 2 seasons

By Kevin Mills , Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2008

WINTHROP - As exciting as last year's season ended for the Winthrop girls' basketball team, the campaign that followed was equally disappointing.

After the Ramblers finished 4-14 and missed the playoffs last month, Glen Chase decided to resign after just two seasons. He made it official Monday.

"After meeting with (athletic director) Eric Turner last week, we made the decision that it was the best for the program to step down," said Chase.

Chase met with Turner for an annual postseason review that is done for all coaches. During that meeting, Chase determined it was the right move.

"It was a mutual decision," he said. "The connection you want from all your players in regards to a new coach had been up and down. Obviously, we had a tough season, coming off a great postseason run we had last year. We've got a very young program. There's definitely a lot of potential there."

In Chase's first season, the Ramblers went 8-10 and finished seventh in Western C. Winthrop won its prelim, knocked off second-ranked Waynflete and stunned Jay in the semifinals. The Ramblers lost in the regional final to Mt. Abram, which won the state game a week later.

Last year, with four starters back, Winthrop struggled and produced its worst record since going 7-11 in 1984. It was just the third losing season in the program's history. The Ramblers missed the tournament, ending a streak of 23 consecutive tourney appearances dating back to 1984.

"You never want to leave," said Chase. "You never want to say you quit. I'm not looking at it as quitting. It's just what's best for the kids."

Winthrop only graduates three seniors and has promising talent in the freshmen and sophomore classes.

Chase says he's interested in coaching elsewhere. He'll keep track of openings that appear during the offseason and see if a situation suits him.

The Winthrop boys' job is currently open after Dennis Dacus resigned. Chase says he can't say whether he has interest in that job right now, but he might lean toward coaching a boys' team in the future. Chase has coached middle school football in Winthrop the last two years and also coached track while he was an assistant girls' basketball coach in Orono.

"It's too early to say on anything," said Chase about the Winthrop boys' job. "I am leaning toward coaching boys. Not just because of this situation. It's just something that's always been in the back of my mind. The style of basketball I like to play is exactly what the Winthrop boys' did this year. It takes a very special group of girls to do that, and you don't find those very often."

After having just two coaches between 1975 and 2002, the Winthrop program is now searching for its fourth coach in six years.

C&S, Jerry's in title game of SSYAA girls intermediate

Sport: Basketball (Girls)  Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

C&S, Jerry's in title game of SSYAA girls intermediate

By John Cochin Sports Editor


photo by George Pouravelis Theresa Coluni (15), of C&S Computers, tries to spin away from defender Caitlin Pierce of Jerry's Market in SSYAA girls intermediate playoff action at the Nasson Gymnasium.

SANFORD—C&S Computers and Jerry's Market each picked up wins in SSYAA girls intermediate division semifinal play recently to advance to the championship game.

C&S Computers got solid offensive performances by Grace Riley and Katie Covey to down Best Services 35-21. Covey scored 16 points and Riley added 14 to spark the winners.

The first period featured very little scoring as Best Services took a 2-0 lead on a basket by Aisling Tiernan. But Riley and Covey each scored four points in the second quarter to help C&S move into an 8-6 lead. Ailsing scored four for Best Services in the quarter and Kate Tiernan had the other two.

With Covey scoring six more points on three baskets, and Kaila Turner and Ashton Ruby adding a basket apiece, the winners outscored the opponents 10-6 in the third quarter to increase their lead to 18-14. Kate Tiernan scored four and Alexa Wilson had two for Best Services in the quarter.

Riley then took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points on four baskets and two free throws as C&S outscored Best Services 17-7 in the frame. Covey scored six in the quarter and Kayleigh Verrell-Peters had the other one.

Aisling Tiernan scored five in the fourth quarter for the opponents and Samantha Drain had two. Aisling led Best Services with 11 points followed by Kate Tiernan with six.

JERRY'S MARKET 27, J.A. WEBSTER 25 (Semifinals)

Jerry's Market outscored J.A. Webster 9-6 in the final quarter to post a hard-fought 27-25 win in semifinal action, thus advancing to the championship game.

Webster jumped out to a 10-2 first quarter lead, thanks to three baskets by Kayla Burgess and one each by Brooke Benoit and Kelsey Burnell. Jerry's two points came on free throws by Shea Costin and Lindsey Nadeau.

Jerry's turned the tables on Webster in the second quarter, taking advantage of a six-point performance by Regan Adams to outscore Webster 12-6 to trail by only 16-14 at the half. Brittany LaCourse added four points and Mystee Walton had two in the quarter. Emily Poisson scored four for Webster and Kayley Sanborn added two.

The offense slowed somewhat in the third quarter as Webster outscored Jerry's 4-3 to remain ahead by just one point entering the final quarter. With Adams scoring three points and LaCourse, Alex Escoto and Walton adding two apiece, Jerry's outscored Webster 9-6 down the stretch to take the win.

Adams led the winers with nine points followed by LaCourse with six and Walton with two.

Poisson led Webster with eight points while Burgess added seven and Burnell had four.


Kate Tiernan scored 18 of her team's 24 points to lead Best Services to a 24-16 win. Her five points in the first quarter helped her team off to a 5-4 lead but Shelby Paiement scored six in the second quarter for the opponents and Shantel Gagnon added two to give them a 12-11 halftime lead.

Best Services scored three in the third quarter, all by Kate Tiernan, while holding Paiement scoreless, and Kate scored her final 10 final points in the fourth to give her team the win.

Paiement scored 12 points for her team and Gagnon added four, while Aisling Tiernan scored six for Best Services.


Olivia Legrand helped Paiement break a 4-4 first period tie by scoring eight points in the second quarter to lift her team to a 16-9 halftime lead.

Each team scored four in the third and Paiement, aided by six points from Shelby Paiement, was able to hold off Howes in the final quarter to take the win.

Legrand and Paiement each scored eight for the winners followed by Libby Jollotta, Paige Vezina and Rebeka Watson with two apiece.

Hannah Howes led Howes Storgage with six points followed by Lauren Sawyer and Sharlee Daye with five apiece and Ashley Goodwin, Haley Parisi and Laura Kirkpatrick with two apiece.


Jerry's Market scored nine points in overtime to post a 37-34 win over J.A. Webster. The winners trailed 19-13 at the half as Webster's Kayla Burgess scored 10 of her team's points and Kayley Sanborn scored two.

Webster's Emily Poisson scored four and Samantha Fecteau added three to help Webster move into a 28-18 third-quarter lead, but Jerry's outscored their opponents 10-0 in the fourth quarter to tie the game and send it into overtime. Caitlin Pierce sparked the comeback with three baskets in the fourth period.

In the overtime period, Regan Adams, Brittany LaCourse and Kaela Godwin each scored three points for the winners to provide the margin of victory. Burgess scored four of her team's six overtime points.

Adams led the winners with 10 points followed by Godwin with nine and Pierce and LaCourse with eight apiece.

Burgess led Webster with 14 points followed by Poisson with eight, Sanborn with six, Fecteau with five and Brooke Benoit with one. Alex Escoto scored two for the winners.


Brenna Whelon scored 13 points to propel C&S Computers to a 40-30 win. The win clinched first place for C&S as they closed out the regular season with a 9-1 record.

Katie Covey added 11 to the winning total followed by Grace Riley with eight, Ashton Ruby with six and Kayleigh Verrell-Peters and Kaila Turner with two apiece.

Aisling Tiernan led Best Services with 16 points followed by Kate Tiernan with 12 and Alexa Wilson with two.

The winners trailed 23-13 in the first half but rallied in the second to take the win.

Longtime Brunswick High School ice hockey coach Hal Myrick returns

Sport: Hockey (Boys)  Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

 Hal's return engagement: Longtime Brunswick High School ice hockey coach Hal Myrick returns at the junior high level ... and loving it

BRUNSWICK — He is 67 years young, his ear-to-ear smile filling a cherubic face. Hal Myrick has much reason to laugh these days ... he is back where he belongs, back where he cut his teeth many slap shots ago — standing behind a wooden bench coaching youth hockey.

Only this time, Myrick, who had both a two-year and a 12-year stint (late 1980's to mid-90's) as Brunswick High School varsity ice hockey coach (we'll get to that later) is coaching a motley bunch of fifth-, sixth-and seventh-graders, a k a, the Brunswick Junior High 'B' team.

Brunswick is scheduled to play in the finals against No. 3 South Portland at the Family Ice Center in Falmouth Thursday at 6 p.m.

This has been quite a transition for the retired Brunswick resident, a Project Manager for Procurement at the Bath Iron Works for some 27 years.

Heck, it wasn't like he needed something to do, what with a 1990 Corvette (Florida car, 58,000 miles) to restore and model railroad trains to build.

Oh yeah, he and wife Patricia have six kids and 11 grandchildren. Busy man.

Of course, it helped that his major connection to the Huskies is one grandson, 12-year-old Rudy Dumont.

"I think where I differed from other coaches back then was that I brought a 50's mentality. I played sports all my life; we lived to be on the baseball fields, we lived to be on the football fields. I don't remember doing anything else until girls came along.

"But, I also remember my coaches, and, my coaches were very stern, very disciplined. You had to be at a certain place at a certain time and you had to be dressed at a certain time. Also, I had a four-year stint with (then-head coach) Jim Tortorella, who was an extreme disciplinarian. He taught me a lot and there was no quarter taken with him. I think that was my personality when I went into coaching ... like respect for your teammates, respect for your opponents, and respect for the officials.

"I did not deviate from that and I wanted my teams to be perfect. When we went on the road our kids were always dressed right. When we went into a restaurant our kids always took their hats off. They were schooled to say, 'yes, sir' and 'no, ma'am.' Many times we were complimented on that because our kids were very well behaved."

High school success
He enjoyed great success. In his inaugural season (1980), the Dragons went 9-8. Then-sports editor Dave Bourque simply wrote in The Time Record archives, "First winning season in years."

He resigned in 1981 after a 5-12 season but came back in 1987-88 after two years as jayvee coach. In one three-year stretch (1991-93) Brunswick went 34-22-1 and in 1995-96 he guided his charges to a 15-4 record. The bottom fell out shortly afterwards and he was done after the '98-99 campaign.

"What happened on the hockey rink was very important as were the X's and O's, but what we tried to teach the kids was that it wasn't just about hockey mostly, but about life. You're going to come into situations all your life, that, hopefully, we'll prepare you for through the adversity of playing hockey."

"Can you control yourself? Can you be a sportsman? When things are going badly and you think you've been wronged, can you handle that kind of adversity?

"I just think that while I was coaching throughout high school, this became a point of contention because I think our society had become softer and softer when it came to that team concept thing."

He quarreled with parents and administrators on what was the right approach as the 1990s came to a close. "I could see this had come to a point where it was going to end up worse and it wasn't going to get any better. I wasn't going to win any advocates to my way of thinking and that's when I had to say 'it's over.' I was becoming more detrimental than a positive with those kids."

At first, Hal wasn't too unhappy about getting out of the parent-coach-athlete triumvirate but, gosh, he did love coaching. He so needed to teach, mold the youth of his day.

"I left without any thoughts that, someday, I was going to go back to coaching."

What happened was that Rudy, daughter Becca's son, became a rink rat, the Myrick bloodlines taking hold at a tender age of 5.

Hal originally got involved — like most loving parents and grandparents — as a spectator. That didn't last long.

Some spectator!
"I'm a spectator who goes to every practice and I really get into it. I can't help it, maybe because of my background, but I went to every practice. I don't miss much."

In his heart of hearts, he knew he could still coach, still help, do whatever be needed. Just give me a chance, guys!

He came up with the idea of Hal Myrich, the teaching coach. He never wanted — or needed, for that matter — to be the head coach or even the guy in charge. "Hey, just give me those bunch of kids over there and I'll work with them."

He returned to mentoring this fall with little or no fanfare.

"For one thing, they kind of lit my fire, because what dawned on me was that these kids are going to become Brunswick Dragons in three-four years. That's all we have and they're in the pipeline already. We're not going to bring in some kids from Canada to fill some spots."

He thought long and hard about this future. He knew what was needed to be done. "We need to work with these kids. And maybe this is something where I can help."

The carrot? "Some day I'd like to see Brunswick win a championship."

"I think what they see in me, and what I want them to see in me, is what they're going to see when they get to high school. I'm trying to tell them this isn't Kansas anymore. This isn't Mites and Squirts. This is big-boy hockey and we're preparing you for when you get to high school.

"We're preparing you to understand that that the coach is going to expect that you be in the lockerroom prepared for a chalk talk at a certain time. You're going to be prepared to hear harsh words. Okay? But you're also going to be prepared to understand coaching. He's going to be coaching you to do certain things and he expects you to do that.

"It isn't going to be what daddy told you to do and it's not going to be how many goals you can score to get five dollars. It's going to be what little contributions can you give to the team? It's a team sport."

These are the B teamers, not the A List. It's a non-checking junior high league. Let's have some fun and see where this all takes us.

"But, it is the same as far as I'm concerned because these kids have a love of hockey. I think you coach these kids to that level of hockey, the same way you coach the A team to their level."

Yeah, at this level the drills are probably more simplistic. As Hal said, you're not going to use, say, a three-man breakaway, because that would required three deft passes. Probably not going to happen just yet.

"What you try to do is find a system that matches their ability to play the game. I also believe this very strongly: hockey is a very simple game. Execution is the difficult part. If you can do a simple thing perfect, you're way ahead of the game."

Practices come on a catch-as, catch-can basis because the program is not funded. Whenever a practice hour comes up, the team jumps on the opportunity. This week the Huskies were able to skate over at the Travis Roy Arena on the North Yarmouth Academy campus. Fresh ice and everything.

The coaching staff would love it if their players could get ice time at least once a week but that isn't guaranteed. Next year, Hal hopes to raise additional funds.

Rudy and Hal
Coaching Rudy and his mates has exceeded whatever expectations he harbored. Hal learned a lot by coaching son Chris at the high school level.

"I've seen the pitfalls and I've seen the problems people have with that (coaching family). And, I think I've been able to get past those things. I know in my heart I treat him fairly. I know in my heart he doesn't get a break. Most of time I just ignore him because I don't normally direct him.

"You know, I had no expectations going in because I didn't know a lot of these kids. I had no idea who they were and I didn't even know some of their names. But, first of all, I found out that they are a bunch of talented kids. They have speed and they're interested in the game of hockey. There's no quit in them.

"They're small, fast and a team that has improved a lot. But they were already there. They are the horses ... you can't say the coaching brought them to where they are today. We may have pushed them in right direction, but there's a bunch of talented kids on this team. They're just small and that's probably one of the reasons most of these kids are on this team. They're probably too small to play checking hockey.

"I never said I'd never go again (coaching) ... I just never thought about it. Then all of a sudden I was like, 'Geez, I've got to do this.' And, then after I got into it they just lit my flame."

BJH 'B' hockey

What: Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League Roy Division Championship.

Who: No. 1 Brunswick Junior High 'B' Team vs. No. 3 South Portland.

When: Thursday, 6:10 p.m.

Where: Family Ice Center, Falmouth.

Brunswick Roster: Andy Auclair, Alec Bollinger, Matt Brooks, Joe Coulombe, Rudy Dumont, Jamie Kane, Dwayne Palmer, Clayton Parent, Jacob Parent, Jared Parent, Ben Spendley, Tyler Sullivan, Joe Waring, Alex Wear, Kyle Woodruff.

Brunswick Coaches: Curt Parent (head), Hal Myrick, Dwayne Palmer, Josh Lynn.
And guess what? Myrick, along with head coach Curt Parent and fellow assistants Dwayne Palmer and Josh Lynn, has guided this bunch to the finals in the Roy Division of Southern Maine Middle School Hockey League, with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over fourth-seeded Yarmouth at the Maine Hockey Group Ice Arena in Saco.

George Almasi is the Times Record sports editor

Pieri excels on the court, in the classroom

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: March 20th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Pieri excels on the court, in the classroom
The Courier-Gazette
By Mark Haskell

Camden Hills senior Christian Pieri was one of the hardest working members of the Windjammer boys basketball team this season. Joseph Cyr

ROCKPORT — The Camden Hills boys basketball team enjoyed more than its fair share of success this past season. The Windjammers comprised a 17-1 record and logged postseason victories over Hermon, John Bapst and Presque Isle before falling to eventual state champion Maranacook.

And in the middle of it all, was senior tri-captain Christian Pieri.

Pieri enjoyed solid success on the hardwood this season, averaging just less than 10 points per game, was named to the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference All-Academic Team and was in many ways, the glue that stuck the team together.

“It was probably the most fun I’ve had playing basketball this year,” said Pieri. “We were really close as a team. Coach Hart always does a really good job molding the team together. It has just been an incredible experience.”

Windjammer coach Jeff Hart is viewed by many as one of the best coaches not only in Class B, but also in the state. Given the fact that Hart has won four state titles in six attempts in the last 10 years, one thing you are not likely to see are players second-guessing him.

“I think the most important thing is the respect he has from all the players,” said Pieri. “Every player on the team looks up to him and if he says ‘go do this on the court,’ they’re going to do it. No one questions him. He’s the coach and he’s our leader.

“Christian is the ultimate competitor,” said Hart. “The bigger the game the better he was going to play. A lot of people probably didn’t see it this year, but he improved his game tremendously. And he continues to work on his game, and that just says volumes about him.”

Pieri also mentioned that the feeder programs Hart has implemented are another reason why the Camden Hills basketball program continues to thrive.

“There always seems to be a lot of talent coming up,” he said. “And when you put together talent with a really good coach and players who want to play for him, you will get good results.”

And Pieri would know. He is a product of the program.

“In middle school I had two really good coaches in Tom Philbrook and Terry Fitzpatrick,” he said. “Fitzy,” as players affectionately know him, coaches both the seventh and eighth grade boys squads.

“He [Fitzpatrick] does a really good job,” said Pieri. “He knows exactly how coach Hart is going to coach, and what he is going to do on defense so that is how he coaches. So when the kids come in [to high school], they already know what is going on.”

Pieri’s fellow senior classmates, Paul Campbell, Dylan Smith and Kevin Richards, have all been playing together since second grade. This has been a major benefit to all four players, as they know both each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It seems like I just always know what they are going to do on the court,” said Pieri, who captains the team along with Campbell and Smith. “We still go at it in practice pretty hard, because you never want to lose to your friends. But I think that is what made us such good players because we are all so competitive.”

Rockland and Medomak Valley are typically the rivals of the Windjammers, but in the last few seasons the team that presents the biggest challenge to Camden Hills has been Maranacook. The Black Bears handed the Windjammers their only two losses of the season, but Camden Hills did beat Maranacook in the KVAC championship game.

Maranacook defeated Camden Hills in the Eastern Class B title game and went on to beat Cape Elizabeth for its second state crown in three years.

“We obviously know a lot about each other,” said Pieri of the two schools. “Paul, Dylan and I actually played AAU with Will [Bardaglio], Mike [Poulin] and Ryan [Martin], so we all know each other on a personal level too. The fact that we know them makes it that much more competitive.”

Early in the season when undefeated Maranacook defeated the previously unbeaten Windjammers at Rockport in the biggest game of the regular season, Pieri called it a “reality check.”

“That was the game,” he said. “A lot of people were hanging their heads [after the game]. They were a lot more ready than we were, but they just blew us out of the building.”

As for Maranacook winning the state title?

“On one hand, obviously I’m really disappointed that it wasn’t us,” he said. “We were all really upset after the game, because everyone wanted it so bad. But at this point all you can do is give them a pat on the back. They earned it. The fact that they’re rivals does make it a little more bittersweet than it normally would be, but there are no hard feelings. If you’re going to play sports you have to be willing to accept your losses.”

Every season has a game that a player, fan or coach remembers more than any other. And this season there were multitudes to choose from. Whether it was the KVAC title win over the Black Bears of the overtime victory in the Eastern Class B semi-finals against Presque Isle. But the game Pieri will always remember was his final regular season game at home against Rockland.

Pieri said that one of the bigger things the Windjammer stress is team play, and all 15 players got in and contributed in the 86-53 win that featured a 46-2 first half run. He also mentioned that as a starter, it is rewarding to know that you worked hard enough to get your whole bench into the game and let them show their stuff as well.

One of those guys on the bench happened to be Christian’s brother, Keegan. In fact, the brothers shared a rare moment together on the court in the fourth quarter.

“I asked coach before the game if we were up a lot, if I could play with Keegan in the fourth quarter,” said Pieri. “And he said definitely.”

To spice it up, he also threw onto the court brothers Owen and Tyler McFarland and his own son, Daniel.

Christian Pieri was a swing player his freshman year when the Windjammers completed the perfect season in 2005 that culminated in the Class B state title. He learned a lot about what it takes to win from the likes of Jamey Davis and Will Horne, whom Pieri regards as the time the best offensive guard and defensive guard in the KVAC, respectively.

“Christian was able to pull all that in and get a grasp of what everything was about,” said Hart. “This year we didn’t win it [the state title], but it was because of guys like him that we were in a position to have a chance to. He was there handing out the lessons to the younger guys that he had learned as a freshman.”

“It was hard sometimes playing against them [Davis and Horne] in practice,” he said. “But I think that made me a much better player. I didn’t get that much playing time, but I got so much experience from that tournament run just watching them and seeing how they dealt with things. They showed me how important it was to have that senior leadership.

And that is the same leadership Pieri instills in his team today.

“You just have to remember that everyday you go into practice, you have to show them how hard you have to work,” said Pieri. “Every time we step on the court [in practice or in a game], we’re trying to make ourselves better.”

Basketball in Camden Hills could be seen the same way Notre Dame cares for football or the way baseball is seen from within the confines of Fenway Park. While there appears to be more pressure on a program that consistently succeeds to continue to succeed, Pieri wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I think physically we work hard, but more importantly it’s mentally,” said Pieri. “You’re carrying the whole community on your back. People you don’t even know are coming up to you on the street asking you about how the team is doing, and you feel really special knowing that that many people care. I definitely wouldn’t play anywhere else except Camden [Hills].”

On the high school level that is. Pieri hopes to play basketball in college, and has already been accepted to Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. He has also applied to the University of Maine at Farmington, Clarke University and Endicott College, among others.

The one thing that will remain constant no matter where Pieri goes on to play is that he was a part of Camden Hills basketball. And that is something that cannot be taken away.

“Once you are on the team, you’re always part of the team even when you’re gone.”
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