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Leclerc chooses Bryant

Sport: Basketball (boys)  Posted: April 3rd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Leclerc chooses Bryant

By Randy Whitehouse , Staff Writer
Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sam Leclerc knows a full-court press when he sees one.

So when Max Good, the former basketball coach at Maine Central Institute and current head coach at Bryant University, called the Winthrop star and told him he desperately needed a point guard, Leclerc knew that after several weeks of agonizing over his future, the time had come to make a decision.

Late Tuesday night, just a couple of days after making an official visit to the Smithfield, R.I., school, Leclerc called Good and told him he would accept a full scholarship to play basketball at Bryant.

"It was the best fit for me," he said. "I had a great time (on the visit). The school is just awesome. The campus is unbelievable. The people were great to me."

"Bryant University is well-known for its business program, and that's what I want to be in," he added. "I felt really comfortable with the coaches. I've been talking to them for awhile, and I have a really good relationship with them."

The announcement won't be official until Leclerc signs a National Letter of Intent, which he expects to do during the spring signing period that begins April 16.

Just three years ago, Bryant, with former Brunswick star Dan Hammond on the roster, reached the NCAA Division II championship game.

Next year, the Bulldogs will move up to Division I and will undergo a baptism by fire. Six of the first seven games on their schedule will be on the road against Connecticut, Boston College, Providence, Rutgers, Maryland and Iowa.

"They want to get right into it and start building a program down there, and it's something that I want to be a part of," Leclerc said. "I want to play against top-level talent as much as I can."

Leclerc may get that chance as soon as he puts on a Bryant jersey.

Prior to this year, the Bulldogs red-shirted junior Orlando Baeza when he tore his ACL, in hopes that he would return to take the starting point-guard role next season. But Baeza tore his ACL again last week and will miss another year, Leclerc said. Good had already moved one of his wing players, sophomore Chris Birrell, to play the point this past season and told Leclerc he doesn't want to do it again for the 2008-09 campaign.

"At this point, they don't have a point guard, and they need a guy that can step in and play right away," Leclerc said. "I'm ready for the challenge.

"I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the gym this summer. I probably won't go a day without shooting a basketball from here on out," he added. "I need to improve on my overall strength. Playing those schools, it's going to be a whole different level of physicality. Driving in the lane this past year compared to driving in the lane and seeing Hasheem Thabeet from UConn, (who is) 7-foot-3, I mean, that's going to be a little different."

The 6-foot-1 Leclerc was a four-year starter at Winthrop, leading the Ramblers to the Western C championship in 2006 and and the state title this year. He averaged 20.7 ppg while being named the Mountain Valley Conference's Player of the Year. He surpassed the 1,000-career point milestone and was a Mr. Maine Basketball finalist.

Leclerc had also been considering Maine, New Hampshire, Boston University, Northeastern, Columbia, Central Connecticut or prep school.

"I wasn't (weighing) Bryant against another school so much. I was more worried about getting accepted into a prep school so that I could play AAU this summer," said Leclerc, who helped lead the MBR boys AAU basketball team to an 11th-place finish at last year's junior boys/17u AAU National Championship.

"It was an extremely tough decision," he added. "I'd been going back-and-forth on it for quite a while. Over the last week-and-a-half, I absolutely could not stop thinking about it. I told my dad I was bipolar about it. One hour I'd be 'All right, I'm not (going),' and then the next hour I'd be 'OK, sign me up.' I think I came to the right conclusion."

Rams' Edwards on home stretch of successful run

Sport: Baseball  Posted: April 3rd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Rams' Edwards on home stretch of successful run
By Ernie Clark
Thursday, April 03, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

As Ian Edwards goes through preseason baseball workouts for his final sports season at Bangor High School, he’s already had a remarkable career.

Since joining the Rams’ varsity baseball, basketball and football rosters as a sophomore, those teams have compiled a combined 114-19 record — with two state titles, four Eastern Maine crowns and two other appearances in regional championship games.

Only once has any of those eight teams lost more than three games in a season, and that was the 2006 basketball team that lost seven games after All-Maine forward Mark Socoby was lost for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during the preseason.

It’s a winning tradition Edwards hopes to continue beyond high school with his acceptance at Bowdoin College beginning this fall.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Edwards may study economics at the Brunswick school, and also plans to play both football and baseball for the Division III Polar Bears, a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

The chance to extend his athletic career in multiple sports, as well as the experience older sister Caitlin — a senior at Bowdoin — has had at the school, led Edwards to his college choice.

"With my sister being there the last three years I really got to see the school a lot, and it’s a really good academic institution obviously," said Edwards.

"And being able to play two sports there was a clincher for me."

Edwards is likely to play on defense for Bowdoin’s football team. The son of former Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Mike Edwards starred at safety for Bangor last fall, earning All-Pine Tree Conference first-team honors on defense despite not having seen any substantial duty on that side of the ball since his middle-school days.

"I probably had more fun playing defense than offense last year," he said. "You just feel like you’re more a part of the team. I know I was the long snapper since my sophomore year, and after I snapped the ball I’d try to go down the field and make as many tackles as I could when I had the chance because it was a lot of fun."

In baseball, the reigning Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North player of the year is likely to see duty as both a pitcher and middle infielder at Bowdoin.

Edwards enters his third year on the Bangor baseball team having helped the Rams amass a 37-3 record with two Eastern A titles as well as the Class A state crown in 2006. In addition to earning KVAC player of the years honors last spring, he also was a first-team All-KVAC Class A North choice in 2006.

In three seasons as the starting quarterback for Bangor’s football team the Rams went 22-7, with trips to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game each of the last two years.

In basketball, Edwards was a reserve forward for three years and helped Bangor compile a 55-9 record with Eastern A titles in 2007 and 2008 and the Class A state championship in 2007.

Edwards also has starred for the last two summers on Bangor’s American Legion baseball team, for which he twice has received All-Zone 1 first-team accolades while helping the Comrades compile a 47-15 record and earn two trips to the state tournament.



MA Lynx look to take more of a leading role this year

Sport: Softball  Posted: April 3rd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

MA Lynx look to take more of a leading role this year

By Ryan McLaughlin
Thursday, April 03, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

After winning nine games and reaching the Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinals last spring, the Mattanawcook Academy softball team is poised to take the next step.

The Lynx of Lincoln have a solid corps of returning veterans to make a deep postseason run this season, along with eight newcomers who coach Dean Libbey hope can make an immediate impact.

"Everything looks pretty good so far, the girls are working hard," said Libbey. "I’ve already seen great improvements."

One of those newcomers is Taylor Trask, a freshman who will split time in the pitching circle with senior ace Deni Nicastro, who was a workhorse for MA last season.

With that being the case, Nicastro won’t be counted on to carry the entire load and should have a fresher arm for the stretch part of the season.

"That’s going to be a great luxury this year," said Libbey. "Taylor throws the ball very well for a freshman."

With the proven starter in Nicastro, who won nine games last season, mixing with the promising youngster in Trask, who Libbey said has dedicated a lot of time to attending pitching clinics over the years, the Lynx could potentially have one of the top one-two punches around.

"Between the two of them, that’ll be a very strong point for us this year," Libbey said.

The Lynx have solid veteran leadership in the infield in first baseman and cleanup hitter Kristy Burleigh, sisters Brianna (shortstop) and Brooke Hanscom (catcher), along with Melissa West at second base and outfielders Vinni Nesin and Renee Libbey.

One aspect of the game Libbey hopes they can improve on this year is run production, as the Lynx struggled to score runs at times last year.

"We’re trying to work a little bit harder on hitting, that seems to be a weak spot for us. That’s improving, too," said Libbey.

With a potentially strong pitching staff, scoring could be a contributing factor in how deep Mattanawcook goes into the postseason this spring.

With an athletic group at his disposal, Libbey hopes the Lynx can be aggressive on the basepaths and attempt to manufacture runs as best they can.

"We are going to try to do a variety of things," he said. "We always like to mix it up a little bit."

The Lynx will be one of many teams jockeying for position in an always competitive Class B, with reigning Eastern Maine champ Winslow and perennial power Bucksport looking to be in the mix — along with Old Town, Gardiner and Erskine of South China, who moved down from the Class A ranks.

"There’s no question Class B is very tough. We’re not looking by anybody," Libbey said.

While Libbey knows some pieces of MA’s puzzle have yet to come together, he doesn’t doubt the Lynx are confident they can play and compete with anybody.

"I think they’re ready to take it one step further this year," he said.

Along with most of their counterparts, Mattanawcook is confined to practicing in their school gym until their fields can dry, which can be a be a nuisance.

"We’re in that gym with 27 girls, it’s a little dangerous too," said Libbey. "We hope it rains in the next week."



Caribou, PI track teams dealing with snow issue

Sport:   Posted: April 3rd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Caribou, PI track teams dealing with snow issue
By Ryan McLaughlin
Thursday, April 03, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

If you take a glimpse at the respective track complexes at Caribou and Presque Isle high schools, the thought that comes to mind is that the facilities are better suited for skiing than for running, jumping or throwing.

Despite having Mother Nature’s refuse scattered all over their tracks and fields, the Vikings and Wildcats, along with Maine’s other high school track and field teams, kicked off spring practices this week along with their baseball, softball and tennis counterparts.

While a number of the facilities around the Penobscot Valley Conference are fairly close to clear, Caribou’s and Presque Isle’s still resemble a winter wonderland.

"We are buried. I’ve never seen it like this, it’s unbelievable," said Caribou athletic director Dave Wakana. "I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life and I’ve never seen this much snow."

Wakana said Caribou’s track could likely be cleared within the next couple of weeks, as the Vikings snowblow their facility.

However, the field event areas likely won’t be suitable for practices anytime soon.

"That’s the problem. Where we throw the javelin is our soccer field and that’s going to be a soupy mess," Wakana said.

For now, the Vikings’ sprinters, jumpers and throwers are doing drills in the high school gym while the distance runners are able to train outside.

Neither Caribou or Presque Isle is likely to lose any home meets. The Vikes’ first home competition is May 10 while Presque Isle is hosting the Aroostook County Championships May 20 and PVC Large School Championships May 31.

"We kind of set it up that way, realizing that Caribou can’t host a meet in April," Wakana said.

Like the Vikings, Presque Isle is holding its practices in the gym and school hallways, but the Wildcats have FieldTurf on their infield, which has a formidable drainage system that may speed up the melting process.

At least boys coach Lori Googins hopes so.

"We’re hoping by maybe July 1st everything will be cleared out," Googins quipped.

"Once things start to melt things should go quick because of the drainage. Once it’s melted, we’ll have the turf area to use," said Googins.

Googins is optimistic the Wildcats will get on the track soon, as doing technique drills and speed work on tiled floors in the school hallways could eventually take its toll.

"The halls are hard on the athletes, a lot of problems we have in the beginning are shin splints and injuries because of the running surface in the halls," she explained.

Some of Presque Isle’s throwers are able to do some technique work in the gym, but its not the same as being out on a regulation field.

"We do have indoor shots and indoor javelins, but it’s still not the same," Googins said. "We don’t have the circle, don’t have the lines, the field isn’t the same. It’s just not the same as in the circle.

"We can work to a certain degree on technique but, personally, I don’t think it’s the same," added Googins.

Cake, Favolise-Stant win Flat Top

Judson Cake and Anne Favolise-Stant were big winners at the Flat Top 5K road race in Lamoine last weekend.

Cake, a Bar Harbor native, recorded the fastest time in the three-year history of the race which honors the late Bill Pinkham, finishing in 15 minutes, 41 seconds.

Former Hampden Academy runner Chris Peverada, now living in Chicago, finished second while Tommy McWalters of Old Town was third, Andy Goupee of Ellsworth fourth and Tim Tunney, also of Ellsworth, fifth.

Favolise-Stant, a former Narraguagus of Harrington running star, finished 10th in the overall standings and clocked a 19:47. Another former HA runner, Chris Peverada’s sister Molly, took second while former Old Town runner Eliza Tibbits was third.

One-hundred five runners finished the flat and fast 5K.

Run with your pet

April is the perfect time of year for Fido or Fluffy to enjoy the early springtime in Maine.

So why not take them for a run with you?

Local runners can do just that April 27 at the Animal Orphanage 5K pet run and walk at the Old Town YMCA on Stillwater Avenue.

All proceeds from this event benefit The Animal Orphanage, a shelter for stray animals in Old Town.

The fees are $12 for individual walkers and runners or $8 for a family of walkers. The first 50 individuals to register will receive a T-shirt.

Of course, pets are more than welcome to participate, but they must be on a leash and start behind the runners unless the pet is racing.

In addition to the age group awards handed out at your everyday road race, the first male and female dog and cat to finish will each receive a prize.

Marblehead football coach Chernovetz suspended

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Marblehead football coach Chernovetz suspended

By Steve Krause / The Daily Item

Doug Chernovetz

MARBLEHEAD -- Marblehead football coach Doug Chernovetz has been suspended by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association for using chewing tobacco in front of his players, athletic director Mike Plansky confirmed last night.

Chernovetz will miss the first two games of the season this fall.

The issue first came to light last last year, Plansky said. It was reported to the MIAA, and the association made its ruling "which we support 100 percent," Plansky said.

It was unclear who would coach the team in his absence.

The Magicians went 4-7 this past fall, with wins over Salem, Danvers, Revere and Ipswich. But they fell to Beverly and Saugus, and lost on Thanksgiving to Swampscott.

Signs were there early as Antonio Anderson displayed athletic ability, leadership

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Signs were there early as Antonio Anderson displayed athletic ability, leadership

By Joyce Erekson / The Daily Item

He's no longer No. 12 (he's now No. 5), but Antonio Anderson is a vital part of the University of Memphis attack. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS

LYNN -- The Lynn basketball community is pretty much busting its buttons at the prospect of seeing native son Antonio Anderson hit the hardwood in San Antonio for the NCAA Div. 1 Final Four this weekend.

Those who knew Anderson as a youngster playing at Cobbet Elementary School and later at Lynn Tech realized even back then that the Memphis State junior was something special, but few could have predicted they would see him playing in the Final Four.

When Anderson steps on the court, he'll be the first Lynner to go this far in the tournament since Lou Tsioropoulos, playing for Kentucky, won the NCAA title in 1951. In those days, however, the NIT was the more prestigious of the two tournaments.

Art Fiste first saw Anderson work his magic on the court when he had him as a student at Cobbet Elementary School. Fiste also had Anderson's older brother, Anthony, who starred at English High before playing for the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"Antonio was a wonderful young man. I knew he loved basketball, and I like to think I motivated him into many good study habits through our love of basketball," Fiste said. "But, he was absolutely a motivated kid. He had good athletic ability. I also had David Brown (Winthrop boys basketball coach) too. Kids like these, you could tell immediately that they were leaders."

Former Cobbet Elementary principal Chris Ofilos first saw Anderson play when he was a third grader. He was only about eight years old, but once the coach, Jeff Barile, of the elementary school team saw him shoot, he and Ofilos, who as the assistant, put him on the team - a team that was comprised mainly of fifth and sixth graders.

"They (both Anderson brothers) were exceptional," Ofilos said. "Antonio was a little tyke back then, He was only about eight and years old and even then, he was small for his age."

The one thing about Anderson that has surprised Orfilos is that he's touted more for his defense not than his offense.

"He's quite a defensive specialist now," Orfilos said. "He was an offensive (minded) kid when we had him."

"Antonio, as an athlete, had great hand-to-eye coordination," Fiste said. "And he had remarkable

quickness and athletic ability at that age level."

Fiste said it's fantastic having a player from Lynn in the Final Four.

"I think it's a great tribute to the city of Lynn. Here's a kid playing at the top (amateur) level he can play at in the United Sates. Everybody should be proud of him," Fiste said.

Tech Director James Ridley didn't coach Anderson in basketball, having left the Tech boys basketball coaching job before Anderson arrived, but he did help coach him in football. Ridley left Tech to take the Breed Middle School principal's job, but he remained an assistant with the Tech football program for several years and was there when Anderson was the quarterback.

Although Anderson had already left Tech by the time most of the current Tech students arrived at the school, Ridley said the teachers remember him well and are excited about the tournament. He said Anderson's pictures are still all round the school, as are pictures of Franklyn Sanchez, who parlayed a great high school cross country and track career into a scholarship to Georgetown University.

Ridley said Anderson is an example of a player who knows what his role is and executes it well.

"He plays steady defense. He does what he's supposed to do. He plays his role almost o the T," Ridley said.

So just how far will basketball take Anderson? Fiste thinks he could make the NBA.

"I think he could be a Rick Brunson type of ballplayer," he said. "Brunson had a pretty good career in the pros. Antonio has the size and quickness. He has to improve his perimeter and foul shooting,- we've all seen that, but

he has everything else. He has a great attitude, and I think he has a real shot. I'm not saying he's another Michael Jordan, but he has a shot."

Item sports editor Steve Krause also contributed to this report.

The Boston Herald presents the top Eastern Mass. boys basketball stars.

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Boys basketball all-scholastics
By Herald staff | http://www.bostonherald.com | High School Basketball

The Boston Herald presents the top Eastern Mass. boys basketball stars.

Member of the 2008 boys basketball...
Photo by Stuart Cahill
Member of the 2008 boys basketball Dream Team: (L to R) Lowell’s Matt Welch; Brockton’s Kyle Gerry; Central Catholic’s Adrian Gonzalez; Central Catholic’s Bill Marsden; and BC High’s Jake O’Brien.

Dream Team

Kyle Gerry, Brockton - Gerry was a Big Three All-Star his final two years at Brockton. He averaged 19.2 points last season as the Boxers went 18-2 in the regular season and advanced to the Division 1 South final. A big-game player, Gerry knocked down several late-game shots, including one to beat Catholic Memorial. Gerry plans to attend Lee Academy in the fall.

Adrian Gonzalez , Central Catholic - The 6-foot-6 Gonzalez was a key cog in Central Catholic’s run to the Division 1 state championship this season, averaging 16.8 points and finishing his three-year varsity career with 1,095 points. He was named MVP of the Merrimack Valley Conference and the Comcast Tournament. In the state final, Gonzalez scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebunds. Gonzalez will attend Bentley College in the fall.

Bill Marsden, Central Catholic - Marsden’s reputation as a clutch-shooting guard grew by leaps and bounds this postseason, as the junior was pivotal in the Red Raiders’ run to the Division 1 state championship. He converted a three-point play in the closing seconds to defeat Lowell in the North final and put up 22 against BC High in the state semifinals. Marsden averaged 19 points per game this season and was named to the Comcast All-Tournament team.

Jake O’Brien, BC High - O’Brien was the MVP of the Catholic Conference this season, averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks for the Eagles, who won the Division 1 South crown and finished with a 21-4 mark. He departs a three-time conference all-star and with a state championship on his resume from his junior campaign. O’Brien will attend Boston University in the fall.

Matt Welch, Lowell - A four-year starter at Lowell, Welch averaged 17 points and eight rebounds during his senior season, earning team MVP and all-Merrimack Valley Conference honors. He finished his career with 1,400 points and led Lowell to the Division 1 North final. A two-sport standout, Welch will attend New Hampshire in the fall on a football scholarship, though he indicates he might play some basketball.


Rodney Beldo, Scituate - This is Beldo’s first All-Scholastic selection and judging from his early success for the Sailors, it’s unlikely to be his last. The sophomore is a two-time Patriot League All-Star and averaged 23.2 points this season. He played a key role in Scituate’s run to the Division 3 South title and an appearance in the state championship game in Worcester.

Jerome Cohen, Everett - Cohen, a junior, was a force in the paint for the Crimson Tide this season, averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was a Greater Boston League All-Star and Everett’s team MVP, leading the Tide to a 19-2 record before bowing out to Lowell in the Division 1 North semifinals. Cohen also is a tight end on the Super Bowl champion football team.

Gerard Coleman, West Roxbury - Coleman is a flourishing star on the local basketball scene. As a junior this season he averaged 27 points, recorded a 50-point game and surpassed the 1,000-point career plateau. He also plays AAU for the BABC. Coleman, who plans to major in media and communications in college, has a 3.17 GPA and is getting looks from Division 1 colleges, including N.C. State, Providence and Northeastern.

Thomas Deegan, Weymouth - Deegan wrapped up a stellar career for the Wildcats, averaging 21 points and nine rebounds to earn the Bay State Carey Division MVP award. A three-time league all-star and team MVP, Deegan is Weymouth’s all-time leading scorer (1,245), and also eclipsed 500 rebounds and 250 assists in his career. An honor roll student, Deegan is a member of SADD, the Old South Union Youth Group, and is a Freshman Mentor.

Terrance Favors, Bedford - Favors, a versatile point guard, led the Buccaneers to a 20-3 record and the Dual County League championship. He averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists per game as Bedford advanced to the semifinal round of the Division 3 North tournament before bowing to Watertown. A senior, Favors is undecided about his college selection.

Chris Flores, O’Bryant - Flores averaged 18.5 points per game this season, leading the Tigers to a 14-0 record in the Boston City League South and a quarterfinal appearance in the Division 2 South tournament. A Boston City League All-Star for the third consecutive season, the senior finished his career with more than 1,000 points and plans on attending prep school next season.

Gregory Hackett, Charlestown - Hackett, a shooting guard, was a potent scorer for the Townies this season, averaging 18.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 5.4 assists. The senior’s well-rounded play helped Charlestown to a 21-0 regular season, the Boston City League North title and an appearance in the Division 1 North semifinals. He also was named a BCL All-Star.

Greg Kelley, Newton North - Kelley is another sophomore likely to find himself back on these pages in the future. He averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds this season as Newton North won the Bay State Conference and advanced to the Division 1 South semifinals. Kelley is an honor roll student and a member of the Newton Youth Commission, and also participates in his church youth group and Mentors in Violence Prevention.

Brendan Monteiro, Catholic Memorial - Monteiro stepped up this postseason, averaging 20 points during the Knights’ run to the Div. 2 state championship. The senior guard averaged 18 points and five assists during Catholic Memorial’s 16-4 regular season and finished his two-year career at the school with a 17.3 average and 800 points. He was named a Catholic Conference All-Star and also plays football.

Ryan O’Connell, St. John’s Prep - O’Connell wrapped up an impressive career by averaging 24.5 points this season and earning a nomination to the McDonald’s High School All-America team. He was the leading scorer in the Catholic Conference this season and leaves St. John’s Prep as the school’s all-time leader. O’Connell is a member of the men’s chorus and plans to attend Bowdoin College.

Dan O’Keefe - Lexington - O’Keefe, the younger brother of former All-Scholastic Jimmy O’Keefe, is proving himself to be a top-notch performer in his own right. A two-time Middlesex League All-Star, the 6-foot-5 junior averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game this season to lead Lexington to a 17-4 record and an appearance in the Division 1 North quarterfinals.

Tyler Patch, Seekonk - Patch went out in style for Seekonk, averaging 29.8 points, 13.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in his senior year for the Warriors. He departs as the school’s all-time leading scorer at 1,746 points and also eclipsed 550 rebounds, 400 assists and 180 steals. He was a McDonald’s All-America nominee this season and is a four-time South Coast Conference All-Star.

Fernando Perez, Lowell - A four-year starter, the 6-foot-3 senior post man led the Red Raiders to the Division 1 North final for the first time since 1988. The co-Most Valuable Player of the Merrimack Valley Conference, Perez averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a game. In the sectional final loss to Central Catholic, Perez scored 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

Paul Rose, North Cambridge Catholic - The 5-foot-9 senior guard propelled an unsung North Cambridge Catholic to its first Division 4 state title. Rose averaged more than 20 points a game for the Panthers during the regular season. A two-time Catholic Central Large All-Star, Rose might have saved his best performance for the state final, where he scored 32 points in a victory over Avon.

Dartaye Ruffin, Stoughton - The Most Valuable Player of the Hockomock League, the 6-foot-9 junior center cast a large spell in his first season at the school. Ruffin averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds a game as Stoughton won the league title and reached the Division 2 South semifinals before losing to Dartmouth. With several juniors back along with Ruffin, look for Stoughton to be a big factor again next year.

Ryan Sharry, BC High - Sharry averaged 14 points and nine rebounds as BC High went 17-3, winning the Catholic Conference title and the Division 1 South crown. Sharry was a league all-star and the MVP of the Comcast Tournament. The senior is the sports editor of the school newspaper, a Senior Mentor and a member of the National Honor Society. He plans to attend Middlebury College in the fall.

Evan Smotrycz, Reading - The 6-foot-8 Smotrycz was a beast for Reading this season, averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds per game to earn Middlesex League All-Star honors. His strong play propeled the Rockets to an impressive run in the postseason, winning the Division 2 North tournament as the No. 10 seed before bowing out to eventual state champion Catholic Memorial in the state semifinals.

Kyle Stockmal, Watertown - Stockmal averaged 22.5 points and five rebounds per game this season to earn Middlesex League MVP honors as a junior. He surpassed the 1,000-point career plateau and knocked down 90 3-pointers for the Red Raiders, who won the Middlesex League crown and Division 3 North. Stockmal has a 4.1 GPA, is class president and a National Honor Society member.

Hanell Velez, Woburn - One of the most talented juniors in the state, the 6-foot-4 guard was one of the top players in the Middlesex League this past season. Velez ranked among the league leaders in scoring at 19.8, helping the Tanners end the regular season with 10 consecutive wins. In the offseason, Velez donates his time as a referee at the Boys and Girls Club.

Akeem Williams, Avon - Williams was nothing short of dominant for Avon this season, averaging 32.5 points, seven assists and four rebounds from his point guard position. A junior, he already has surpassed 1,900 career points and set a school record with a 56-point game this year. Williams, a three-time Mayflower League All-Star, led the Warriors to the Division 4 state championship game this season.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/high_school/basketball/view.bg?articleid=1084311

St. Pierre signs with Arizona Cardinals

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

St. Pierre signs with Arizona Cardinals
By Bill Kipouras
Staff writer

Brian St. Pierre cited a better chance for advancement in his pro football career as a major factor in his leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals this week.

"My agent (Rick Smith of Chicago) began talking to Arizona in January and we never spoke to anyone else," the 28-year-old unrestricted free agent from Danvers, St. John's Prep and Boston College said when reached in Arizona last night.

He's already involved in the Cardinals' voluntary offseason training program and, with a couple of mini-camps that follow, he can expect to still be around Arizona in mid-June.

A connection in the signing is that Arizona's head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, was previously the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. St. Pierre said he always had a good relationship with him.

"There were salary cap issues in Arizona and they didn't have a lot of money until (Pro Bowl wide receiver) Larry Fitzgerald signed. Once that was out of the way, we got together on a contract," St. Pierre said.

"I thought it was a great move, including the weather aspect. I also felt I'd have a better future in Arizona than in Pittsburgh," he added. "I felt they wanted me back on their terms, and there was no opportunity to advance with Pittsburgh, having me as the (No. 3 quarterback) with no end in sight."

Ahead of St. Pierre in Arizona are Matt Leinart, the ex-USC southpaw sensation who boke a collarbone after the fifth game last season, and ex-St. Louis Super Bowl winner Kurt Warner as the Cards' backup.

St. Pierre said he could have a shot at No. 2, but not in his first year.

"I love it out here. The weather's unbelievable and the people are good. They feel they're turning the franchise around and I thought there was a better chance of becoming No. 2 here," he said.

St. Pierre had spent four of his five NFL seasons in Pittsburgh, returning there after one season in Baltimore.

Holliston 7, Westwood 6: Panther boys lax survives

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Holliston 7, Westwood 6: Panther boys lax survives
After building big early lead, hosts have to hold on for TVL win
By Pete Jones/Daily News corresopndent
The MetroWest Daily News

Marshall Wolff/Daily News staff..Holliston goalie Andrew Koning (center) is mobbed by teammates after the Panthers held on to beat Westwood.

HOLLISTON — You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Holliston boys lacrosse team.

The Panthers scored the first two goals of the game against Tri-Valley League rival Westwood and ultimately opened up a 6-1 lead over the Wolverines within the first 15 minutes. A resilient Westwood squad made an impressive comeback, but Holliston survived and escaped Kamitian Field with a 7-6 victory over one if its fiercest rivals to bring their record to 2-0 on the young season.

"It's better than being 0-2," joked Panther coach Rich Boles, who has been at the helm since the program's inception in 1999. "It's always been a good rivalry and it has been in every sport. I wouldn't say they're our biggest rival but the fact that we play on Thanksgiving, that certainly contributes to it."

Holliston found themselves with a two-goal advantage less than three minutes into the contest after goals by junior midfielder Will Nesbitt and senior midfielder Greg Hovsepian. Westwood cut the lead in half two minutes later when senior Jake Mahoney found the cage, but Panther senior James Neal popped in two scores to give Holliston a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.

"The kids felt pretty good and they had a good warm-up," said Boles of his team's torrid start. "But to be honest, later on, it wasn't there."

After Holliston scored two more times to start the second quarter - one by junior Ben Elliot and another by Neal - and build a 6-1 lead, the momentum shifted and it was all Westwood for the rest of the half.

Wolverine senior Matt White scored two of his team-high three goals during a three-minute stretch toward the end of the second period, and the Panther lead was cut in half at 6-3 heading into the break.

"We started moving the ball better," said first-year Westwood coach David Evans. "It's a pretty simple game and we just started catching and moving the ball. We started doing a better job fighting for the ball and playing the ball instead of going for the body."

Things got ugly in the third frame. Not only did the game become somewhat sloppy, it became increasingly physical as well.

The two squads went back and forth exchanging punishing blows and neither side was able to create many dangerous scoring opportunities. The only score of the period came with just over a minute remaining when Neal tallied his game-high fourth goal.

Westwood appeared to cut the lead to 7-4 as time expired in the third, but the goal was waved off after the whistle and the Panthers clung to a four-goal lead heading into the final quarter.

"I thought that was kind of tough," said Evans of the goal being disallowed. "It looked like he was in but I don't know, it's a judgment call. In a game like this, you can't focus on something like that. Ultimately it's the whole game."

The fourth quarter belonged to the Wolverines, who continued the comeback and scored two goals just 30 seconds apart, by Jordan McPherson and White, to make it 7-5 with less than five minutes remaining. With 2:37 left, Westwood pulled within one when Reis McQuillan converted a 2-on-1, but it was as close as the Wolverines got.

"As well as we played the first quarter and into the second, we played as poorly in the third and part of the fourth," said Boles. "Shot selection was poor and we kind of panicked a little bit and we didn't stay with our game plan. But we're looking for unity, determination, no fear and - bottom line - in the end, it's all about the W."
Copyright © 2008 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.

Hopedale 9, Millis 2: Blue Raiders batter Mohawks

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Hopedale 9, Millis 2: Blue Raiders batter Mohawks
By Ken Castro/Daily News correspondent
John Thornton/Daily News staff ..Hopedale pitcher Stacia Lathrop delivers a pitch against Millis.

HOPEDALE — Stacia Lathrop limited visiting Millis to four hits, and the Blue Raiders offense - led by Lauren Rajcula's bat - exploded for five runs in the fifth inning on the way to a 9-2 win over the Mohawks in the softball season opener for both clubs.

The two-time defending Dual Valley Conference champions forged the early lead by scoring three times in the bottom half of the second frame off Millis starter Molly Ferraro.

"Good start, good first win," said Hopedale coach Sue Kelly. "I think it was a typical first game. There are a few details that we need to iron out, but I think we played really well and got some things done on the bases which really helped us out."

Freshman Alexa DiAntonio opened the scoring for Hopedale when she punched a opposite field single through the hole at shortstop with runners on second and third, scoring Emily Lyall. Katie Bresciani followed with a single to right and moved to second on an outfield error - allowing Kelly Hyland and DiAntonio to score and give Hopedale a 3-0 edge.

Millis closed the gap to 3-1 in the top half of the fourth when sophomore Kendra Kennedy led off with a double and later scored when Lathrop issued a bases-loaded walk. Ferraro reached on a double in the seventh and accounted for the second Millis run when she came around on an infield miscue.

Lathrop, who fanned eight in going the distance, walked seven batters as well.

"That's very typical of Stacia," said Kelly. "It looks like she's going to struggle for an inning, then comes right back and surprises their team. A lot of times, she'll use the break between innings to focus and go back out and throw hard again,"

Lathrop got some help along the way from her battery-mate, senior captain Jess Peacock. The three-sport star was perfect in eliminating would-be base stealers, throwing out all three attempts. The Hopedale defense was also responsible for erasing a bases-loaded threat in the top half of the second, turning a crisp 4-2-5 double play that began with Emily Lyall to Peacock and ended with Bresciani.

Lekia Cowen ignited the Blue Raiders big inning with a leadoff bunt single and Peacock followed with a base hit befiore Shanna Lathrop reached on an infield error to jam the bags. Co-captain Rajcula upped the score to 4-1 moments later when she dropped a bunt single that plated Cowen.

A fielder's choice and the Mowhawks third error of the game gave Hopedale a 7-1 lead. Cowen (2-for-3) finished off the scoring on Rajcula's RBI base hit in the sixth. Rajcula (3-for-4, 2 RBI), joined Cowen, DiAntonio (2-for-3) and Peacock (2-for-3) in registering multiple hits in the win.

"We loaded the bases up twice, we had our opportunities," said Millis coach Jeff Kearney. "It's still early in the season, but we need to get the bats going. We're a young team - we only have one senior and a lot of kids playing varsity for the first time - so we're a building team and these things are going to happen.

"I thought our kids played hard, but there were a few unlucky breaks. And Hopedale is a good team; they played tough."
Copyright © 2008 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.

Golden Warriors still lead the way

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Golden Warriors still lead the way


Merrimack Valley Conference

OVERVIEW: Even with the graduation of superstar goal scorer Rachel Fox, Andover should — with the return of eight starters — be at the head of the pack and favored to win its fourth straight MVC title.

Haverhill, in its third year of varsity improvement, is looking for improvement and first-year program Central Catholic is hoping to have an immediate impact.


2007 record: 21-2, lost Division 1 North semifinals

Returning starters (8): Ilana Cohen, Sr., midfield; Kelly Driscoll, Sr., midfield; Jordy Shoemaker, Sr., midfielder; Katelyn Caro, Sr., attack; Jess Forster, Sr., attack; Abby Cook, Jr., goalie; Catherine Gross, Jr., midfielder; Heather Sullivan, Jr., attack

Returning lettermen: Jenn Quinlan, Sr., attack; Erica Leber, Sr., defense; Katie Shields, Jr., midfield; Emily Blech, Jr., defense; Jackie Pelletier, Soph., defense

Newcomers: Shannon Cooney, Jr., defense; Kelly Fox, Jr., attack; Jules Konjoian, Jr., goalie; Katie Nadelson, Jr., defense/goalie; Emily Selwyn, Jr., defense; Alex Alois, Soph., defense; Marisa Cataldo, Soph., defense; Natalie Gibson, Soph., midfield; Rosie Forster, Soph., attack; Maddie Dillman, Frosh, defense; Emily Shields, Frosh., midfield; Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Frosh., attack; Jenn Caro, Frosh., defense; Meghan Morris, Frosh., attack; Jess Salley, Frosh., attack

Candidates in all grades: 94

Captains: Ilana Cohen, Kelly Driscoll, Jordy Shoemaker

Returning leaders: Katelyn Caro 34-24—58; Jess Forster 26-23—49; Catherine Gross 32-16—48

Returning honorees: Kelly Driscoll, MVC All-Star; Catherine Gross, MVC All-Star

Assistants: Meghan Matson; Beth Arnold, JV; Sheila Salois, Frosh.

Opener: at Tewksbury April 2

Odds and ends: Andover has been ousted in the Division 1 North semis the last four years. ... The Golden Warriors have won 17 or more games each of the last six years. ... Five seniors have already signed with Division 1 schools: Kelly Driscoll and Jordy Shoemaker (Notre Dame), Ilana Cohen (UNH), Katelyn Caro (Brown) and Jess Forster (St. Mary's, Calif.). ... Seven members of the state finalist basketball team came out for lacrosse, including star freshman point guard Natalie Gomez-Martinez. ... Starting goalie Abby Cook is likely out for the season after a basketball injury. ... Jenn Quinlan hopes to return from the torn ACL she suffered last season in lacrosse. ... The Golden Warriors will play all four 2007 sectional champs, and travel to face Division 1 state champion Framingham and state runner-up Longmeadow. ... Girls varsity soccer coach Meghan Matson is in her first year as an assistant varsity coach.

Coach John McVeigh (4th year, 58-7): "We have a lot of returning talent, but now they have to take the lead. You can never replace Rachel Fox (Northwestern recruit), but I think this will be a breakout year for Katelyn Caro and Jess Forster. Ilana Cohen, Jordy Shoemaker and Kelly Driscoll will all be moving from defense to midfield, and I think they'll be ready. And (freshman) Natalie Gomez-Martinez never picked up a stick before this year, but she's going to be very special."

Central Catholic

2007 record: First-year varsity program

Newcomers: Lauren Aleksa, Jr., defense; Michelle Bibeau, Jr., defense; Meredith Bilodeau, Jr., midfield; Ellen Colman Soph., defense/midfield; Adelle Dagher, Jr., attack; Emily Gaudiano, Jr., attack; Allison Hillner, Soph., attack; Gina Iannazzi, Soph., attack; Courtney Kellogg, Soph., defense/attack; Regina LaRose, Jr., attack; Sarah Lattrell, Sr., defense/attack; Courtney O'Neil, Frosh., attack; Kelsey Richards, Sr., attack; Bianca Sacco, Soph., defense; Nancy Scandura, Soph., defense, Liz Steele, Soph., goalie.

Candidates in all grades: 54

Captains: Meredith Bilodeau, Kelsey Richards

Assistants: Jessie Koffman, JV; Jesse Rowley

Opener: Hosts Chelmsford April 9

Odds and ends: Adelle Dagher and Allison Hillner are both members of the cross country and indoor track teams. Several of the other athletes on the team were members of the JV basketball team. ... Coach Phil Rowley wasn't expecting to have enough girls for a JV team, but 54 candidates changed his opinion. ... JV coach Jessie Koffman was a tri-captain at Andover High in 2005. ... Dean Bilodeau was a captain on Central's first boys team in 2005 and his sister, Meredith Bilodeau, is a co-captain this year.

Coach Phil Rowley (1st year): "Our captains (Meredith Bilodeau, Kelsey Richards) play for a club team, the Raptors based out of Billerica. Half of the team plays in a league with the Raptors program, but it is very informal. With that experience, we will be able to hit the ground running a bit. We have a ton of enthusiasm and we are working really hard, but we haven't had our first action against real league competition. We are in the second tier behind teams like Andover and Billerica. We hope to try to compete in that second tier."


2007 record: 0-20, did not make tourney

Returning starters (10): Erin Foley, Jr., attack; Lindsay Hirschfeld, Jr., attack; Moire O'Mullane, Sr., attack; Theresa Whittredge, Sr., attack; Molly Moran, Sr., midfield; Kaleigh Hanes, Jr., midfield; Nicole Dandurant, Sr., midfield, Cierra Carstensen, Jr., defense; Bailey Strangman, Sr., defense; Alyssa Mahoney, Sr., defense

Returning lettermen: Jackie Pereira, Jr., attack; Jenna Adelizzi, Soph., attack; Jackie Hutchinson, Jr., midfield

Newcomers: Briana Roldan, Soph., goal; Melissa Clark, Soph., attack; Sarah Decoteau, Soph., midfielder, Jill Aramian, Soph., defense; Alex Barrier, Jr., defense; Brittany Lewis, Jr., defense; Kailey Burke, Frosh., midfield

Candidates in all grades: 57

Captains: Theresa Whittredge, Molly Moran, Alyssa Mahoney

Returning leaders: Theresa Whittredge 20-5—25, Moire O'Mullane 6-7—13, Lindsay Hirschfeld 12-0—12, Molly Moran 8-3—11

Assistants: Susan Beaudoin

Opener: April 4 at Malden

Odds and ends: Theresa Whittredge has the most experience on offense and will be relied upon heavily. This is her second year as a captain. ... The 57 girls who tried out is an increase of 17 over last year. ... Kailey Burke, who plays midfield, is an impressive freshman. ... The Hillies also returned 10 starters last spring. ... Jami Styrczula (38-5—43) led the Hillies in scoring last year as a junior, but isn't playing.

Coach Melinda Cripps (3rd year, 1-37-1): "We have really found a foundation. The girls have been playing together for three years now and they are really coming together as a team. We have a lot of girls who are very capable of scoring, we have a tight defense which is exciting, and the girls look really great. We are returning 10 starters and only have one freshman, so this is our first veteran team.

Al Palmieri touched many

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Al Palmieri touched many
April 02, 2008


NEW BEDFORD — The story goes that Al Palmieri got caught smoking one of General George S. Patton's cigars during World War II.

Palmieri was working as one of Patton's bodyguards at the time. The general took him aside, kidding that he could get court martialed for something like that.

"Even Patton liked Al," said Gerry Audette, one of Palmieri's long-time golfing buddies at Whaling City Golf Course. "Everybody liked Al. He was one in a million."

Palmieri, who had a huge impact on local sports as a player, coach and administrator for many years, passed away Monday morning at age 85.

A talented basketball, football and baseball player at New Bedford High School, where he graduated in 1941, Palmieri ended up joining the Army and went on to play basketball at the University of Rhode Island after the war ended.

In college, he got a chance to guard Bob Cousy and play on the Rams' 1946 team that lost a 48-47 overtime decision to Kentucky in the finals of the then-famed National Invitational Tournament.

After graduating from college in 1949, Palmieri began his basketball coaching career in Groveton, N.H., before moving back to his hometown in 1951 to become a basketball coach and teacher at Roosevelt Junior High.

While at Roosevelt, he played professional basketball for Manchester, Conn., in the Eastern League — earning $50 a game — before taking a job as former high school teammate Stan Grabiec's assistant at New Bedford High in 1953.

Palmieri took his first local head coaching job at New Bedford Vocational in 1958, leaving two years later to become the head basketball coach and athletic director at Dartmouth High School.

He left coaching in 1969 with a career record of 216-64 to become director of athletics at Wareham High School, where he stayed for three years before taking a similar position at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational High School in 1972.

Palmieri later became the assistant to the superintendent of schools in Taunton before becoming a physical education teacher at B-P.

"Al was a wonderful coach. I played basketball for him my junior and senior years in high school. He was very dedicated to the game and his players," said Steve Gaspar, the boys basketball coach at and a 1968 alum of Dartmouth High. "His knowledge of the game was uncanny. He knew his X's and O's and he knew how to handle people. He always got the most out of his players."

A member of the New Bedford High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the Dartmouth High School Hall of Fame and the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, Palmieri was also a former director of the Ted Williams Baseball Camp in Lakeville.

"Al was an incredible athlete. He had a natural talent for basketball, football and baseball," said Audette. "Palling around with him was like being in heaven for me. He was a wonderful guy who had a lot of personality and character."

A dedicated golfer who played with Audette four or five times a week at Whaling City the last 15 years, Palmieri was the first player to tee off at the course in May of 2001, when it reopened after a year of renovations and the Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup of the nearby Sullivan Ledge Superfund site.

"Al loved to get out and play early and we had some great times together on the golf course," said Audette. "He was a quiet guy who carried himself with a lot of pride and class."

No matter what the sport was, Palmieri always expected one thing from his players.

"You had to show good sportsmanship," said Gaspar. "Al went by the letter of the law, but he was also fair. I learned a lot about basketball and life from him."

Contact Ed Collins at ecollins@s-t.com

Lancers down Panthers

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Lancers down Panthers
Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spring has officially sprung for the Longmeadow boys lacrosse squad, as the Lancers trounced Cathedral 20-4 yesterday.

Longmeadow's offensive onslaught was powered Kyle Smith, who had three goals and one assist.

Steve McKenna, David Thor, Richard Travers, Dan Cresci, and Jake Heger each netted two goals in the Lancers first win.

The Panthers got two goals from Jon Hojoroski. Joe Martin and Chris Rodriguez each had one.

Minnechaug 11, Agawam 1: Minnechaug scored early and often. The Falcons were powered by two goals each from Chris O'Brien, Alexander Lagodich, Ryan Mackin and Drew Schwendenmann.

The Brownies goal came from Adam Gonyeau.

Westfield 10, East Longmeadow 6: Westfield received stellar performances from a pair of seniors, midfielder Andy Liptak and goaltender Steve Irwin.

Liptak had the scoring touch all afternoon as he registered four goals in Westfield's second victory of the season.

Irwin stopped 14 Spartan shots. He held East Longmeadow scoreless during the third quarter.

East Longmeadow was paced by four goals from senior Chris Setian.

GIRLS LACROSSE Westfield 12, East Longmeadow 9: Westfield went into halftime deadlocked in a 6-6 tie. After intermission, the Bombers came out as a team determined and fought back to defeat the Spartans 12-9.

Kelly Gallo provided five goals and Ashley Lamagdeleine chipped in with two scores for Westfield. Courtney Williams and Ayla Armstrong each provided two goals.

East Longmeadow was powered by Maura Stetkiewicz and Jen O'Melia who each tallied three goals.

Minnechaug 12, South Hadley 5: The Falcons used a hat trick from Maura Stack en route to the victory.

Minnechaug was also aided by pairs of goals from Maev Moylan and Dana Navalance.

South Hadley was paced by Kelly Tierney who had three goals.

Agawam 15, West Springfield 4: Agawam's Cori Geiger had five goals and two assists.

Agawam also got a hat trick from Carin Wagner.

West Springfield was powered by three goals from Lauren Pelkey.

Longmeadow 17, Cathedral 0: Longmeadow's Kate Phillips led a balanced scoring attack for the Lancers.

The Lancers' Julia Meihm, Lauren Halpern, Jenna Zucker, and Paige Cuscovitch each provided two goals apiece.

Northampton 7, Amherst 6: Northampton's Hilary Bombard scored the game-winner with 0:55 left in the game to lift the Blue Devils.

Amherst had a chance at tying things up with 10 seconds left to play, but a steal by Northampton defender Aileen Sawula kept the win intact.

Amherst Kristin White had three goals and two assists.

©2008 The Republican
© 2008 MassLive.com All Rights Reserved.

Medfield 8, Dover-Sherborn 7 (2 OT)

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Medfield 8, Dover-Sherborn 7 (2 OT)
by Chris Forsberg

Spring has sprung
(Globe Photo / Lisa Poole

MEDFIELD -- Medfield boys' lacrosse coach Bob Aronson doesn't have a lot of veterans on this year's squad. But he doesn't mind listening to the ones he has.

With his Warriors locked in a sudden-death stalemate with rival Dover-Sherborn, Aronson watched senior Max Zuccarini wave off a play the coach had drawn up for a man-up situation midway through a second overtime session.

Zuccarini, one of just four seniors on this year's squad and a cocaptain with Harry Bodozian, took a glance at the personnel on the field and decided it was time to show why he was chosen a leader this spring.

Taking a feed from Bodozian, Zuccarini potted the winner outside the right post with 2:03 remaining in the second extra session as the Warriors escaped with an 8-7 triumph over visiting Dover-Sherborn.

"Coincidentally, he called a play that ended up with him scoring the winning goal," Aronson said with a smile. "He's a smart player. I called one man-up play and he took a look at the players on the field and didn't think it would work, so he called another play."

Zuccarini admittedly wasn't sure some of his fresh-faced teammates were ready for the crunch time moment. Both teams had let opportunities slide by in the extra session and Zuccarini had played enough lacrosse for the day. He'll gladly let you call him selfish, but the play swap was for the betterment of his team.

"It's just one of those plays that we practice a lot and I was comfortable with it," said Zuccarini. "Harry made a great pass. They've got a great goalie over there in Garrett (Akie). I'm glad we got the win."

The game between border rivals and Thanksgiving Day gridiron foes had a bit of an edge to it, particularly with Dover-Sherborn's success last year coupled with Medfield taking a slight step back this spring (some heads turned with a less-than-dominant 8-5 win over Hopkinton to start the year, but Aronson contends his team will be playing its best lacrosse in June).

The Warriors broke out on top, 2-0, but Dover-Sherborn came back to take a brief lead in the second quarter. Medfield scored the final four goals of the first half -- sparked by a pair of tallies by Jack McDermott -- and seemed to be pulling away, but the Raiders stormed back riding some fine defensive play in the second half.

Trevor Pearson's goal late in regulation knotted things at 7 and forced the extra session. Both teams had quality chances -- though sloppy turnovers did plague both sides in the overtimes -- but it wasn't until nearly six minutes beyond regulation that Zuccarini broke the stalemate.

The winning goal came just moments after the Warriors nearly threw away a possession. A poor pass left midfielders scrambling for possession in front of the Medfield bench, but the Raiders took a foul call after a Medfield middie was tripped up after securing possession.

That put the Warriors in a man-up situation and they took full advantage. Bodozian gained possession behind the net and Zuccarini crashed the cage while running off a little screen from McDermott. Zuccarini caught the pass with a defender in his face and Akie came rushing to contest, but Medfield's senior tucked the ball inside the open right side of the cage to trigger a celebration.

With the win, Medfield now boasts a 76-game winning streak in conference play.

"I didn't want to be 75-1," said Zuccarini. "I think sometimes we take (Dover-Sherborn) for granted, and the whole Tri-Valley League. But that's a great team. I think they're going to do real well in Division 3."

Zuccarini finished with three goals, while Whelan paced the Raiders with a hat trick. Both Medfield freshman netminder Sam Aronson and Akie were solid in net and both saved some of their best play for the overtime session.

Milligan, UMass advance to NIT final

Sport:   Posted: April 2nd, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Milligan, UMass advance to NIT final
April 02, 2008 6:00 AM
Massachusetts’ Gary Forbes pulls down a rebound under pressure from Florida’s Alex Tyus. Forbes had 19 points.

NEW YORK — Dante Milligan made a touching, triumphant return to the arena he practically grew up in, leading Massachusetts into the NIT championship game.

The undersized post player scored 17 points and made several blocks late against Florida, helping the Minutemen defeat the two-time defending NCAA champions 78-66 last night.

Gary Forbes scored 19 points, Chris Lowe and Ricky Harris added 16 each, and the starters scored all but two points for the Minutemen, who will play Ohio State tomorrow night.

UMass (25-10) took its first lead since early in the game when Etienne Brower hit a 3-pointer with 9:49 left. Milligan scored a few minutes later, then stuffed Walter Hodge at the other end, leading to another 3 from Brower and a 59-51 lead with 7:25 to go.

The Gators (24-12) never could get closer than six the rest of the way, ending a disappointing season with a lackluster finish miles away and far removed from the consecutive titles they won on college basketball's biggest stage.

Marreese Speights had 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for Florida, the first defending champ to miss the NCAA tournament since 1989.

Star freshman Nick Calathes added 12 points on just 5-for-19 shooting, and Dan Werner had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Milligan and his brother, Alonzo, were involved with Boys' Club of New York growing up, and their mentor worked in public relations at Madison Square Garden. Together they spent dozens of nights hanging out in the locker rooms and watching the New York Knicks.

Three years ago, Milligan's brother died in a random shooting in his old East Harlem neighborhood, and the Garden and Knicks established a scholarship fund in Alonzo's honor.

The older brother carries a tattoo on his arm that reads, "Enjoy life today. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come."

He's sure living up to it in the NIT. He scored a career-high 24 points in the tournament opener against Stephen F. Austin and had 13 to help the Minutemen rally from 22 down with 14:37 left to beat Syracuse in the quarterfinals.

The game was a matchup of coaches who both learned under Rick Pitino at Kentucky, Billy Donovan as an assistant and Travis Ford as the guard who led the Wildcats to the Final Four.

Like Donovan a year ago, when he flirted with a coaching vacancy in the NBA, Ford now has to face questions about his future.

His name has already popped up for the opening at LSU, perhaps an avenue for returning to his roots in the Southeastern Conference.

His team trailed 36-27 at the break after a dreadful shooting performance uncharacteristic of the nation's eighth-highest scoring team.

The Minutemen were 1-of-13 from beyond the arc and after Milligan's putback with 12:08 left, went more than 12 minutes without a field goal.


NIT championship, at Madison Square Garden, Massachusetts vs. Ohio State, Thursday, 7 p.m., ESPN.
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