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Frontier wins in short order

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

Frontier wins in short order
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By JEFF THOMAS
jthomas@repub.com

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
By SEAN SWEENEY

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
By FRAN SYPEK
fsypek@repub.com

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."

Div 3. Frontier 79, Scituate 65; Sibling revelry for Clark twins

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

Div 3. Frontier 79, Scituate 65; Sibling revelry for Clark twins
By Steve Crowe
Globe Correspondent / March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - It may have been their last game together. Boy, did they make it count.
 
Twins Brian and Dan Clark combined for 47 points and 15 rebounds as Frontier Regional (24-1) won its first Division 3 state title since 1987, beating Scituate, 79-65, yesterday at the DCU Center.

Frontier, with former Boston College and Green Bay Packer standout Mark Chmura in its lineup, beat Fairhaven in 1987 for its first state championship. It lost in 1986 and 2002.

It was the first state title appearance for the Sailors (22-3), who were led by Rodney Beldo (23 points on 9-of-26 shooting).

Gary Grandonico scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Red Hawks, who came into the final averaging 76 points per game.

Scituate had a height advantage but was outrebounded, 34-28. Frontier's matchup zone limited 6-foot-9-inch senior center Sean McCarthy to 7 points and five rebounds.

"We just tried to be very physical," said Dan Clark, who finished with 23 points and seven rebounds. "We just wanted to box out every possession and be physical."

The biggest difference came at the line, where Frontier made more free throws (18) than Scituate had attempts and makes combined (14).

"They played behind our big people," Scituate coach Matt Poirier said. "They boxed out well."

A 3-point play by Blaine O'Brien (20 points on 8-of-12 shooting) and a Dave Gordon putback brought Scituate within 47-45 with just more than three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Clark twins, however, responded with back-to-back 3-pointers, pushing the lead to 53-45 with 2:34 remaining in the quarter.

"It deflated us," Poirier said of the back-to-back treys.

The Sailors got within 61-56 on a coast-to-coast layup by Keith Fluery (7 points) with 6:56 to play in the fourth quarter. That was Scituate's last point for nearly four minutes, until O'Brien hit a leaner with 2:58 remaining, cutting the lead to 67-58.

After 10 lead changes, the game was tied at 19-19 after the first quarter. The Clark twins combined for 17 of Frontier's first-quarter points, finishing the frame a combined 7 of 13 from the floor.

O'Brien buried a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 39-38. Dan Clark hit a pull-up and Brian Clark (24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) made a fast-break layup to extend the lead to 43-38 with just less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.

O'Brien scored the next 5 points for Scituate, Brian Clark hit two free throws, and Brennan McKenna nailed a jumper to give Frontier a 47-43 lead.

Then came the daggers from the Clark twins, who might play college basketball together.

"We know we can shoot the 3-ball pretty well," Dan Clark said. "We took the shots that were open and they were falling for us today."

"It starts with ball penetration, digging into the paint, and kicking [the ball out]," Poirier said. "There really weren't matchup issues, I thought. [Frontier] just made contested shots. Those were tough shots they hit."

Scituate High's hopes for a state championship now rest with the boys' hockey team, which takes on Westfield today at TD Banknorth Garden for the Division 3 state title.

Div 2. CM 74, Tantasqua 56; One year later, it's Knights' day

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

Div 2. CM 74, Tantasqua 56; One year later, it's Knights' day
By Chris Estrada
Globe Correspondent / March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - The tables have been turned.
 
One year ago, Catholic Memorial suffered a late letdown in its MIAA Division 2 state title game and lost to undefeated Tantasqua. But with the teams battling in a championship rematch yesterday at the DCU Center, CM emphatically got its revenge.

Utilizing their trademark pressure defense to create points off turnovers, and getting a big game from senior forward Julian Colarusso (24 points, 13 rebounds), the Knights beat the Warriors, 74-56, to win the state title and end their opponent's two-year, 49-game winning streak.

Leading the charge was Colarusso, whose late technical foul helped trigger Tantasqua's winning run in last year's final. Given a second chance against the Warriors, he shined offensively and helped trigger several turnovers that kept CM ahead by a healthy margin throughout the game.

Knights coach Denis Tobin called Colarusso his "team's leader" after the game and he lived up to his billing.

"We lost to the same team [last year] and I had a big technical foul, so I'm very fortunate to get back here," Colarusso said. "This team just played unbelievable again. I can't even explain with words how happy I am right now. This is an unbelievable feeling."

"A double-double - he's done that all year," Tobin said of Colarusso. "He's just a terrific high school player."

Tantasqua hopped out to an 11-3 lead, but CM tightened up and used a 10-2 run to tie the score with a little less than two minutes left in the first quarter. The Knights' Jeff Tagger (10 points) drove into the paint for a layup with a minute to go to give CM the lead. After the Warriors turned it over, Tagger picked up an assist on Allen Harris's lay-in for a 17-13 lead that would stand at quarter's break.

CM's press continued to produce points off turnovers in the second quarter as the Knights opened with a 14-2 spurt that featured 8 points from Colarusso and 6 of senior guard Brendan Monteiro's 16. Tantasqua cut the lead to 38-26 with 40.7 seconds left in the half on a pair of free throws from Jake Gubitose, but back-to-back buckets from David Grant and Colarusso gave the Knights a 42-26 lead at halftime.

"We have good speed, so we try to use that to our advantage," Tagger said. "We try to make defense our offense, try to press up, speed the game up so they can play our game."

The Warriors started the third quarter on a 9-4 run and cut the lead to 48-39 thanks largely to the hot shooting of 6-foot-5-inch senior forward Bryan Vayda (21 points, 10 in the third). But in the final 2:22 of the quarter, CM got baskets from Colarusso, Grant, and Monteiro to stretch the lead to 54-39.

Catholic Memorial's lead billowed to 20 in the fourth.

"We've played teams with quickness, but I've got to be honest, we haven't played a team that quick," Warrior coach Jeff Child said. "We knew they were going to press and we worked extensively on breaking the press this week, but, you know, it is what it is."

For Tobin, it was a championship. And in his mind, it was vindication for his team's leader.

"In retrospect for Julian, he's such a better person and a better player this year, because of [last year's final]," he said. "It's unbelievable . . . I think that incident, I think he learned from it. That's what high school athletics is all about. Learning."

Playing his own driving force, Randle balances a complex load

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

Playing his own driving force, Randle balances a complex load

By Brendan Hall, Globe Correspondent  |  March 16, 2008

Terrel Randle, 26, took an unusual route to college basketball, but the former Framingham and Ashland player is committed to the game - and even more committed to his family and studies. Terrel Randle, 26, took an unusual route to college basketball, but the former Framingham and Ashland player is committed to the game - and even more committed to his family and studies. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)

Terrel Randle is as easygoing and candid as they come, but when it comes to basketball, he isn't exactly talkative. But last October, during a team meeting in the bowels of Quinsiga1mond Community College's Athletic Center, he felt compelled to share his life story.

The reaction, as it often is was:

"How are you here?"

Now 26, the former Framingham and Ashland High student-athlete has taken an unusual path to junior college basketball star.

Randle lives in Concord with Jennifer Devaris, his girlfriend of seven years, and their three children, Ahlysa, 5, Ariana, 4, and Alijah, 1. He has just completed his second and final season as a lightning-quick shooting guard at Quinsigamond while taking classes twice a week at the junior college in Worcester.

His driver's license has been suspended for a lengthy list of speeding, parking, and traffic violations. He is not eligible for renewal until 2010.

So his Concord-to-Worcester commute takes many forms. Some days he will catch a ride with Devaris. Other days, he will spend the night on a friend's couch, then get a ride the next morning. Other times he will take the commuter rail from Concord to Worcester, where a friend, teammate, or coach will drive him to school.

At the same time, he manages two part-time jobs, helps with his children, and maintains a 3.75 grade-point average as a criminal-justice major and member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

"If I had used my brain before, I might have been better off," he said. "My daughters and son, when they get older I don't want them to be like . . . if you set a positive example, a lot of times they won't settle for less."

A decade ago, Randle lacked guidance. His mother had a history of substance abuse and his father was in and out of his life.

In his adolescence, Randle said, he was arrested five times, but never for a felony. Randle calls them "petty things," such as vandalism, save for one incident in which he stopped a fight by telling a classmate to put his gun away - only to be charged with gun possession. According to Randle, the charges were dropped.

He wasn't a focused student, either. With seemingly no one watching over him, Randle missed a lot of school his freshman year at Framingham High, and had to repeat the grade.

"I was basically raising myself, so I'd do whatever I wanted," he said.

A year later, he was taken under the wing of the family of one of his best friends, Eric Eversley Jr. Randle stayed in the family's Framingham home for two years. Eversley's father, Eric Sr., said Randle didn't cause a stir.

"To me, he was a kid," said Eric Sr., a lieutenant detective for the Boston police. "Initially, yes, he was a typical teenager, a little more hardheaded than my own boys," but "he eventually did mature beyond his years."

The Eversleys' 18-year-old daughter, Andrea, said it was "like having another older brother in the house.

"He'll also take credit for any of the defensive skills I have in basketball," said Andrea, who is valedictorian of the senior class at Framingham High.

Randle played basketball for two seasons at Framingham, the last under current coach Mike Tarlin. Known for his fearless finish, Randle first hit the rim as an eighth-grader playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball.

For his senior year, he transferred to Ashland, where he lived with his AAU coach, Vincent Hanrihan, under strict guidelines. Hanrihan said Randle was never any trouble.

After graduating from Ashland in 2000, Randle planned to continue playing ball at Massachusetts Bay Community College in Framingham. But then he and Devaris learned that she was pregnant with their first child.

Since then Randle has worked all sorts of jobs - sometimes three at once - to make ends meet. He worked in a factory in Framingham, at a cellphone stand at the Natick Mall, and counseled at-risk youths.

In his four years as a youth counselor at the Brandon School and Residential Treatment Center in Natick, he discovered that, because of his background, he was able to help troubled teens.

He left Brandon in 2006 when he and Devaris decided to enroll at Quinsigamond. Randle was 24 and wanted to continue toward his dream of becoming a juvenile probation officer. But he also wanted to suit up for the Chiefs' basketball team.

Quinsigamond coach Hadley Camilus, also the school's senior admissions counselor, had heard stories like Randle's before. Still, when asked about the first time he heard Randle's story, he paused.

"The life he leads, I couldn't do it," Camilus said.

It was tough for Randle to readjust to organized basketball; he was used to pickup ball. But he can play. The 6-foot Randle led the Northeast Region of the National Junior College Athletic Association in scoring (20 points per game) while leading the Chiefs to a 17-9 record.

Holding a team-high grade-point average, Randle plans to pursue a criminal justice degree at a four-year college - and, despite Devaris's concerns, says he plans to play basketball for his next college too. Currently, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, a Division 2 program, is his top choice.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on players until they have signed a letter of intent. A number of college coaches in the area say Randle has the talent to compete at a Division 2 school. But his age and remaining eligibility (two years) could make some coaches cautious.

"Terrel is one of the best guards in our league. He can play; the question would be at what level?" said Massachusetts Bay coach Bill Raynor, the former head coach at Holy Cross. "I think he has the ability to play; it's just a matter of finding a school with a slot for him."

Either way, Randle has broken a family cycle, though he hasn't forgotten his roots. He stays in touch with his father, but views him more as a friend than mentor. He also stays in touch with his real mentors - the Eversleys and the Hanrihans - and brings his children to visit during holidays.

"I don't know how he got the stability to act the way he acts, but he acts so much more mature than he is," Hanrihan said. "He's been a great influence on my son."

Eric Eversley Jr. had a message to relay to Randle. The 27-year-old law student at DePaul University says Randle has never beaten him at a game of one-on-one.

They will probably have to wait to settle the score. For now, Randle has some unfinished business - and wherever he lands, he is likely to hear that question again: How are you here?

Div 3. Memories of Mahoney inspire Scituate

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

Memories of Mahoney inspire Scituate

By Monique Walker, Globe Staff  |  March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - What a story it would have been. Scituate erases an 11-point deficit in three minutes to win the Division 3 state championship. In the crowd, their schoolmate, Tim Mahoney, would stand in the midst of a student section chanting and cheering in a sea of blue.

Instead, the Sailors left the DCU Center, their heads swallowed by hooded sweat shirts, defeated by Frontier Regional, 79-65. While they may have been disappointed, they helped generate excitement for a couple of weeks in a community dealing with tragedy.

In a winter season that spans nearly five months, three Scituate athletes have mourned the death of an immediate family member, and another's family lost its home in a fire.

Most recently, Mahoney, a sophomore hockey/lacrosse player, died in a car accident Feb. 2. Since that day, Mahoney's No. 9 has been the magic number players on the basketball and hockey teams look for as a sign their buddy and teammate is with them.

Nowhere has No. 9 been more prominent than with the hockey team, which includes Mahoney's brother, Patrick, a senior defenseman. Today the Sailors will try to defend their Division 3 state title when they face Westfield at 12:30 at TD Banknorth Garden.

The state tournament has been filled with dramatic wins and close calls for both Scituate teams and it has sparked plenty of conversation and excitement in the South Shore town, said Phil Mahoney, Tim's uncle.

"It's been fantastic," said Phil Mahoney, who is an assistant football coach at Cohasset High. ". . . The last thing you want anyone to do is to just lock the doors and hide away. The success of these teams has brought people out into the public and given everyone something positive to rally behind."

Tim Mahoney was born Dec. 2, 1991, the third son of Frank and Lori Mahoney. His first weeks were stressful for the family as Tim was placed in intensive care at Children's Hospital with a hole in his heart. His first Christmas was in a hospital. Aside from a surgery at 5 years old to address a rapid heart beat, Tim led the life of a typical child. He had a knack for making friends.

Among the closest were Sam Malone and Rodney Beldo, who lived down the street from the Mahoneys. On school days, Patrick and Tim would pull up in a black SUV to take the two to school. There was the occasional fight over the front seat, and the mutual ribbing of each other every day.

Tim would get to as many basketball games as he could, sometimes catching a ride with his mom just to see his friends play. In return, Malone and Beldo became hockey and lacrosse fans.

On the Malone family's computer is a picture of Tim flanked by Beldo and Malone, arm in arm. The day after Tim died, Beldo and Malone said they couldn't think about another basketball game.

"I didn't want to play anymore," Malone said. Beldo agreed.

As word spread through the town, a memorial at the scene of the accident on Route 3A in Cohasset began to grow. A jumbo No. 9 and flowers and trinkets are still at the scene.

Frank Mahoney, a Cohasset Fire Department captain, said he and his wife, a school teacher, set goals each day. Some days are easier than others.

The goals may be as simple as getting out of bed or moving around. Last week, Frank Mahoney returned to work, but he said his wife has not.

"It's nothing you can prepare yourself for," he said. "You get through it by talking to people and setting goals and going day by day . . . I can't thank the community enough for all of their support."

The Mahoney family has been visible in the community, attending basketball playoff games and hockey games. Frank Mahoney has been a bench coach for the hockey team during the playoff run.

Their oldest son, Justin, 22, is a senior at UMass-Boston, where he also plays lacrosse. He said the success of the teams has given the family something to look forward to.

"Overall, the feeling and energy has really helped my parents a lot," Justin said. "They don't have to say anything, I can see it."

The basketball players wrote No. 9 on their shoes and little notes to remind themselves of him. The hockey team lists Tim as a starter for each game. The players all wear a No. 9 pin and in a recent game, Tim was given an assist on an empty-net goal.

They are all gestures to honor Tim's memory and Phil Mahoney said he hopes the teenagers keep that motivation in everything in their lives.

"Tim's memory should be something positive, not negative," Phil Mahoney said. "It's not how he died, but how he lived. His memory should be something that drives them and gives them purpose because that's how you honor his memory."

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com

Div 3. Abp. Williams 69, Quaboag 47; Abp. Williams was up to speed

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

Div 3. Abp. Williams 69, Quaboag 47; Abp. Williams was up to speed
By Andrew Petrie
Globe Correspondent / March 16, 2008

 



























Floor leader Christine Duffy didn't let Olivia Jankins and Quaboag stand in her way. (David Kamerman/Globe Staff)

Floor leader Christine Duffy didn't let Olivia Jankins and Quaboag stand in her way.


























 
 



WORCESTER - Archbishop Williams ran away with its second straight state title.
 
With senior guard Christine Duffy (11 points) serving as field general, the Bishops used their fast-paced game, superb shooting, and quick passes under the basket yesterday to burn Quaboag, 69-47, in the Division 3 final at the DCU Center.

"The game went exactly as we wanted," Bishops coach Jim Bancroft said. "I couldn't be more proud of our performance."

Forward Casey Capello hit four 3-point shots and had a game-high 19 points for the Bishops, and sophomore center Valerie Driscoll dominated under the basket, scoring 18.

"We're not used to seeing a team shoot the ball that well, and they can shoot the lights out," Quaboag guard Cory Spencer said.

After a competitive first period that included eight lead changes, Archbishop Williams's running game took over. Relying on their fast-break offense, the Bishops outscored Quaboag, 20-3, in the second quarter.

"We knew we had to step up our defense and our running game [after the first quarter]," Bancroft said. "Our goal was to stretch the lead in the second quarter."

Duffy and Driscoll led the charge, combining for 10 points in the period. Duffy found Driscoll open under the bucket, and the sophomore converted shots and knocked offensive rebounds back into the Bishops' hands. On the defensive end, Driscoll dominated, blocking three shots in the quarter.

"We started running the ball more and they just couldn't keep up with us," Duffy said. "Our fast break kills a lot of teams, and we were able to use it to beat them."

The Cougars struggled against the Bishops' 3-2 zone defense and looked rattled and fatigued throughout the final three periods. Their only points in the second came at the buzzer, a 3-point shot by senior Macey Gaumond. It provided little solace for Quaboag, as Archbishop Williams went to halftime with a 32-19 lead.

"Their zone gave us a lot of problems," Quaboag coach John Vayda said. "We got a little lackadaisical. We lost our emotion and that can't happen if you want to overcome a team like this."

Quaboag, which won state titles in 2004 and 2006, wasn't able to get its inside game going. Two 3-pointers by center Meaghan O'Keefe (13 points) enabled the Cougars to get within 45-29 in the third quarter, but the Bishops' lead was too large to overcome.

The Bishops' celebration was subdued, just some handshakes and hugs with some of the assistant coaches. A close-knit group, the team was upset it wouldn't be playing together again. "We're glad we won but we honestly wish we had another game," a teary-eyed Duffy said. "Everyone's asking when our next practice is. We can't believe it's over."

Div 1. Northampton 50, Andover 37; It's a first for Northampton

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

Div 1. Northampton 50, Andover 37; It's a first for Northampton
By Maggie Cassidy
Globe Correspondent / March 16, 2008

WORCESTER - For Andover, a long journey came to a disappointing end.
more stories like this

After losing in the sectional semifinals the past three years, the Golden Warriors finally made it to the state final - only to suffer a devastating loss to Northampton, 50-37, in the Division 1 final at the DCU Center last night.

But for Northampton, it was an even longer journey capped by an exciting win - its first state trophy in basketball in school history. Many of the players have been playing together on AAU teams since fifth grade, and for senior center Brighid Courtney, the team's camaraderie made the championship even more meaningful.

"It's just been such a great trip. From freshman year to senior year, we've all grown so much, and we've played together since we were in elementary school," Courtney said. "And to be able to win as a team, with this group of girls, it means so much, and I don't think I'd want to do it with anyone else."

Northampton (23-2) put the clamp on Andover's hard-hitting offense, building a 23-15 halftime lead on the wings of Courtney and Alannah Driscoll-Sbar, who combined for 14 points in the half. Andover (23-4) threatened in the third and cut the lead to 6 with about two minutes to play on a trey from Laura Renfro.

The half morphed into a 3-point shooting contest for the next 30 seconds as Iris Santoni responded with a quick three for Northampton before Renfro drained one more to bring the score to 31-25. But Driscoll-Sbar put an end to the back-and-forth mayhem, closing out the quarter by scoring the final 8 points - 6 of 6 from the line plus a field goal with about three seconds to go - to build the advantage to 39-25.

The Blue Devils kept the momentum rolling in the fourth to earn the trophy.

"The playoff stretch we had a lot of good shooting nights, everyone was contributing," said Renfro. "Tonight our shooting was a little off, and they were making everything."

The Golden Warriors suffered from uncharacteristic mistakes in the opening frames, ranging from mishandled passes to shots short of the basket. Andover coach Jim Tildsley said it was hard to recover from a fairly deep hole in the second half - especially against a tall team like Northampton, most of whose players stand 5 feet 7 inches or more.

"We hung in there, we gave it all we got. We had a great year and what else can you say," he said. "They were big, they were strong, they were athletic. [Driscoll-Sbar] is the real deal, and we put Renfro on her in the third quarter, and maybe I should have done that at the beginning of the game because I think Renfro did a pretty good job on her and kind of kept her off the boards."

Driscoll-Sbar finished with a game-high 20 points, while Courtney finished with 15.

"People talk about, 'Oh, we won states,' " Courtney said. "But you can't really understand until you've been here. And now I understand why everybody's always so excited and how great it feels."
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