Boston High School: New England Roundup

Rob Quaine, Pilgrim on the rise in Rhody

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
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By no stretch of the imagination is Pilgrim High considered a contender for a Division II playoff berth. But after enduring a drought of near-epic proportions, the Patriots already have shown that they have improved over the teams the school fielded each of the past two seasons.

Rhode IslandAfter all, when you’ve lost 15 consecutive games -- as the saying goes -- there’s no place to go but up.

Pilgrim took one step in that direction on Sept. 13, when it belted Smithfield, 36-6, in a non-league game.

Ironically, the Patriots’ last victory was over Smithfield – 26-12 on Oct. 28, 2011.

Granted, Pilgrim dropped its first Division II-B game, 28-0, to Shea on Sept. 20, but coach Tom O’Connor at least has something to build on and that “something” includes junior quarterback Rob Quaine.

As an inexperienced sophomore, Quaine was under center last season when Pilgrim went 0-12. But in that non-league victory over Smithfield, he completed 6 of 8 passes for 178 yards and scored a touchdown on a one-yard run.

The loss to Shea notwithstanding, Quaine has shown improvement in his passing which can be attributed to his play last summer in the Rhode Island High School Passing League.

For example:

* In nine passing league games, Quaine only threw one interception.

* In two passing league tournament games, Quaine had exactly zero turnovers (i.e. no fumbles or interceptions).

[+] EnlargeRob Quaine
Courtesy of Pilgrim Athletics Pilgrim (R.I.) junior QB Rob Quaine lifted the Patriots to their first victory in nearly two calendar years earlier this month.
“At first, it was slow to catch my attention,” O’Connor said. “I failed to realize he wasn’t throwing the interceptions that he threw last season.

“I watched Rob and saw that he would eat the ball. After four seconds elapsed, he ate it rather than force a pass. That was a big issue when he was a sophomore. To me, it was a sign that he’s taken his maturity up a level which I was hoping for going into this season. Quite frankly, he did so earlier than I expected.”

O’Connor then gave an example of what he meant and it didn’t have anything to do with something his quarterback did on the field.

In a Rhode Island Injury Fund game (i.e. these games only consist of two quarters) against three-time Division I champion Hendricken (the Hawks prevailed, 28-8), Pilgrim fumbled away the opening kickoff.

Yet instead of stomping up and down the sidelines or yelling at the teammate who fumbled, Quaine was the first Patriot to offer encouragement to the kick return team when it came off the field.

Quaine also gave indications of what was to come against Smithfield.

On Pilgrim’s first possession, he guided a drive that stalled inside Hendricken’s 10-yard-line due in large part to a pair of long passes he completed.

Later in the game, Quaine audibled twice en route to a scoring drive and then threw a two-point conversion pass.

“I feel more confident this season because I trust all of my teammates,” Quaine said. “We came together as a family during double sessions.

“Obviously, when you play Hendricken, you can’t be intimidated. That being said, I didn’t feel we backed down from the beginning to the end.”

Yet Quaine was quick to admit that butterflies were churning in his stomach.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” he said. “But it’s not a shock (being the starting quarterback) like it was last season.”

That was evident to O’Connor during Pilgrim’s victory over Smithfield.

“Rob did a lot of ‘hot reads’ on his own,” said the coach. “He threw the ball more than we wanted to throw it. But they blitzed a lot and he picked up the wide-open receiver.

“Despite the loss [to Shea], he’s progressed a lot from last season. Playing in the passing league and against Hendricken showed me he can lead our team. He’s a completely different young man – one who’s very confident and let’s things go that would bother him last year.”

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Week 2 New Hampshire football preview

September, 13, 2013
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Keene football coach John Luopa won't be walking into the unknown this weekend. He's very much aware of what his team will be up against when it faces Exeter on Saturday night (7 p.m.) in Keene.

New HampshireExeter has won New Hampshire's last two Division I championships and is considered by many to be the team to beat again this season. The Blue Hawks have a roster of more than 100 players and have won their last 17 games against Division I competition.

“It's a daunting task playing Exeter,” Luopa said. “They're hands down the best team in the state – and the best program. When you've won the last two Division I championships I think it's fair to say that.

“It's the same Exeter team. They've just changed the names and numbers.”

Keene is coming off a 34-0 triumph over Nashua North. Exeter received three touchdowns from fullback Jay Inzenga in Saturday's 48-6 triumph over Dover.

“I thought we tackled well and we didn't turn it over, which is always a concern when you have all new backs,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said. “Getting out of the gate with a win is huge. It gives you momentum heading into the next week.

“The road gets tougher. Keene is a lot like us – physical. It'll be a physical game."

Luopa said slowing down Exeter's running game and cashing in on scoring opportunities will be the keys for his team Saturday night.

“Offensively you have to find a way to get it in the end zone,” he said. “In years past we've moved the ball well from the 20 to the 20. Inside the 20 is where they really buckle down.

“I think we match up well with teams that run the spread because defensively we can run with the spread teams. The big question entering this game is how will our defense hold up against a big, powerful team that runs the ball?

“It will be interesting to see if we do have the horses to give them a game.”

DIVISION II
Trinity (Manchester) and Plymouth were the best teams in Division IV last season, and they may be the two best teams in a reconfigured Division II this year.

Plymouth, which beat Trinity 7-0 to win last year's Division IV title, rolled over Kingswood, 49-28, last weekend. The Bobcats will play at Windham on Saturday. Windham, which lost to Trinity in last year's Division IV semifinals, opened its season with a 28-7 triumph over Hanover.

“I saw their film (against Kingswood) and they flow to the ball real well,” Windham coach Bill Raycraft said. “(Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan) has 11 guys who make it look like they have 13 out there. Plymouth will be one of the top teams in the division.”

Perhaps no team posted a more impressive victory last weekend than Trinity, which made a statement by beating Portsmouth, 58-37, Friday night. Portsmouth has won the last two Division III championships and was a preseason favorite to win this year's Division II title.

Trinity may get a stiffer test from Milford tonight. The Spartans returned their entire offensive backfield from last year's Division III playoff team, and showed plenty of offensive punch in Saturday's 48-23 victory over Sanborn (Kingston).

“Obviously it was nice to get that win, but we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do,” Trinity coach Steve Burns said.

DIVISION III
Fall Mountain (Langdon) played a junior varsity schedule last season because of low participation in the program, but will have a chance to improve its Division III record to 2-0 when it travels to Raymond tonight (7 p.m.).

Fall Mountain is coming off a 40-8 victory over Newfound, and Raymond dropped a 53-35 decision to Bishop Brady (Concord) in its opener.

Tonight's game between Newport and Pelham is this weekend's only Division III matchup between teams that each won last weekend.

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New England Roundup: Maine

July, 21, 2013
7/21/13
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With spring season behind us, it's a good chance to get the thoughts of two spectacular Maine athletes: Cassidy Adams, who pitched Bucksport to its second straight Class C state title, and Foxcroft's Ryan Rebar, the state's Mr. Baseball.

MaineAdams has not lost a game since her sophomore season. She pitched all 20 games for Bucksport this year, and walked a total of four batters. In one game she struck out 19, out of 21 possible outs. She finished off the spring by shutting out Madison, 7-0, for the state title less than 24 hours after graduating from Bucksport.

Q: Coming into this season, you and your teammates were coming off an undefeated state championship season. Did you feel there was any pressure on you to do the same thing again?

A: "There was definitely some pressure on the returning players and new players this year to keep our season undefeated again along with making it to the state championship. A lot of people around town and other schools said we wouldn't do as well this year and go as far because we lost six seniors. Out of those seniors, five started and were our power hitters last year so we really needed to prove ourselves offensively."

Q: The game where you struck out 19 this season – what do you remember about that game?

A: "We were playing Dexter and they are one of the best teams we face during regular season. I know I threw a lot of rise balls because they couldn't hit it. I didn't realize I had that many strikeouts until after the game when coach told me, since I was just doing what I usually do. I just throw what pitches my coach and my catcher, Alanna, tell me to and if they hit it, I'm not worried because I trust my defense and I know they'll get it."

Q: You graduated from Bucksport the night before the state championship game. Obviously, that’s a lot to do in 24 hours. What were you like the day of the state final? Had you gotten a lot of sleep?

A: "After graduation, I had gone to dinner but went straight home and went to bed. I had been sick though out playoffs and was still sick so I made sure I got plenty of sleep for the next day. It had been hard to get sleep those last few weeks of school because I had school, softball, marching practice, and speech practice for graduation. That week was really busy for me. I was still sick, which I have now found out is a sinus infection, but I got plenty of rest and medicine into me that when it was game time, it didn't bother me much."

Q: You’re going to the University of New England. What made you choose that school?

A: "I had looked at several of the pharmacy schools in New England but I really liked how small UNE was and it was a beautiful campus. Another reason I chose UNE was that it was far away from home, but it was also close enough to come home if I wanted to."

Q: Bucksport had been a very strong team in Class B before moving to Class C. Did you look at some of those teams in Class A and Class B and wonder how you’d compete with them?

A: "During preseason and post season, we always play other teams that are usually in class A or B so we always get to compete with them and we always do well. We played a couple A and B teams this year and lost to one A team and tied Oceanside [winners of the Class B state title]. Last year, we won all our preseason games and this year in post season, we scrimmaged Bangor and won. It's always fun to play the teams in higher classes because we get told we only do so well since we're in class C, so we all get to prove ourselves."

Q: Has it hit you that your high school career is really over? What are your favorite softball memories?

A: "It hasn't really hit me that my high school career is over. I don't think it will until the banquet. My favorite memories are obviously the past two seasons where we won states and had the undefeated season but I really enjoyed just spending time with the girls. This year, our team was very close and we always would have fun in practice or when we would have team bonding. We went kayaking one time, which was a blast. Being able to play with such great girls and becoming friends the past two years and being coached by some of the best people have always been the greatest part of playing."

Ryan Rebar was good enough to be a dominant player on a Foxcroft football team that won the Class C state championship this fall, and win the state's Mr. Baseball award. In between, he starred on the basketball court this winter. On the diamond this spring, Rebar was 6-1 with a 1.02 ERA, and hit .339 with 12 stolen bases.

Q: What made you want to play three sports in high school? Did anyone ever suggest that you just concentrate on one sport?

A: "Growing up in a small town there was a always a lot of free time. Thankfully I got involved with sports and spent a lot of time with friends and family playing just about everything. I wanted to stay busy entering high school and playing three sports a year was great and fun for me. My Father and Mother enjoyed watching me play so I wanted to give them plenty opportunities too! Both my parents encouraged me to play three sports."

Q: In an interview after you won Mr. Baseball, you mentioned that you struggled at the plate when you were younger. How would you compare yourself as a hitter then to yourself as a hitter now?

A: "My younger years I wanted to hit anything that my bat could reach. The biggest thing I've noticed since then is developing patience and having the right approach when about to hit. Knowing the pitcher and their tendencies and making sure you aren't going to help them out is where I improved the most."

Q: What made Husson the right place for you? Was it the chance to play football and baseball in college?

A: "I loved the what Coach [Gabby] Price and Coach [Jason] Harvey were about. I really wanted to keep the same mentality of when I was going into high school. I want to stay as busy as I can and ultimately work hard and have fun. I'm very excited to play both football and baseball for Husson."

Q: Your baseball team had that game against Hermon where Caleb Richard got beaned and the Hermon coach ended up being replaced late in the season. What was your team’s feeling on that whole situation?

A: "It was something that you hope won't happen again to any team out there. The overall feeling of the team initially was to see if Caleb was OK because he got drilled pretty good. But after that we wanted to move on from the situation and focus on our goal of getting to a state championship."

Q: Dover-Foxcroft is a small town, and it seems like sports are really big there. Does that make it kind of special to play at Foxcroft?

A: "Dover-Foxcroft is made up of great supporting people that love to come cheer on athletics. It's always great to see fans in the bleachers cheering and clearly into the game. Foxcroft is a special place to play and I'll never forget the countless memories made on the football field, baseball field, and basketball court."

Q: How do you feel about your high school career across all three sports? Do you have any regrets?

A: "I've experienced a lot during my career that a lot of high school players never experienced. I'm blessed and forever grateful to my coaches and teammates for always doing their best. We've won a state championship in football, made a terrific run in basketball to make it to the semifinals in the final year of the Bangor Auditorium, and won an Eastern Maine championship in baseball. I've had a very successful career at Foxcroft and am hopeful to keep experiencing success entering college."

New England Roundup: Connecticut

July, 8, 2013
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The news surprised some and stunned others, but Jack is back.

Jack Cochran, one of the most successful -– and controversial -– high school football coaches Connecticut has ever seen, was hired as Harding High School's head coach in late June.

Harding, which is located in Bridgeport, hasn't posted a winning season since 1996 and is 9-91 during the last 10 years. It's Cochran's first job since he was the head coach at New London in 2008.

“It’s like a rebirth,” Cochran told the Connecticut Post. “It’s been a long three or four years and I’m excited to getting back to doing what I love: coaching kids.”

Cochran has also served as the head coach at Bloomfield and New Britain. His teams have made the playoffs 15 times in his 16 seasons, played for a state championship 14 times and won eight state titles. Cochran has a career coaching record to 160-24-2.
In 2007, while he was at New London, Cochran received a one-year suspension for a physical and verbal confrontation with an opposing coach during a weightlifting competition.

New London fired Cochran after Cochran's brief stint as the school's baseball coach resulted in CIAC sanctions and a three-year probation for Cochran. There have been illegal recruiting accusations as well, but Cochran may be best known as the coach who likes to run up the score.

Many feel the CIAC's score-management policy was put in place because of Cochran. The score-management policy allows for a head coach to be suspended if his team wins a game by more than 50 points. It was put in place one year after Cochran's New London team defeated Griswold 90-0, and is often referred to as “The Cochran Rule.”

Cochran's backers will point to the fact that 59 of his players have gone on to play at the Division I level, and the fact that he has a reputation for helping kids who are struggling in the classroom.

“We had a chance to hire arguably the best high school football coach in state,” said Neil Kavey, the athletic director for Bridgeport schools. “And when you have a program that has changed coaches as many times as (Harding) has in last few years, you know you need to take a shot with somebody with that skill and reputation.”

Cochran's son Casey was a quarterback on New London’s 2008 state championship team as a freshman and then transferred to Masuk, where he led the Panthers to the 2010 Class L championship. He now plays for the University of Connecticut.

Cochran became Harding's fourth coach in the last seven seasons. Harding's last winning season (7-4) came under Bill Cole in 1996.

BOYLE SHINES IN ALL-STAR GAME
Xavier quarterback Tim Boyle ran for a touchdown and passed for another to help the National Guard defeat the Marines 15-14 in the first Military Bowl/Hall of Fame Classic played June 29 at the University of Connecticut's Rentschler Field.

Boyle, who will play for Connecticut this season, completed 12 of 14 pass attempts for 134 yards. He was intercepted twice. He also carried the ball three times for 16 yards.

Boyle originally committed to play for Boston College, but opted for Connecticut after BC hired Steve Addazio as its head coach. The game featured the top high school players in Connecticut who graduated earlier this year. Prior to this year, Connecticut played Rhode Island in a postseason all-star game.

PIZZOFERRATO RESIGNS
Manchester found itself without a football coach when Marco Pizzoferrato resigned in early July. Manchester was 35-26 and failed to make the playoffs in Pizzoferrato's six seasons as head coach.

Pizzoferrato may be best known as the coach who turned in former Southington coach D.J. Hernandez for using a lost Manchester wrist band that listed the team's offensive plays during a 2010 game.

Manchester is one of 31 schools that will have a first-year head coach this season.

SAVIO SELECTS LOYOLA
Former Greenwich lacrosse standout Graham Savio committed to Loyola University in late June. An All-American, Savio helped Greenwich reach the FCIAC semifinals and CIAC Class L quarterfinals as a senior last spring.

Loyola lost to Duke in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 31, 2013
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What do the boys’ lacrosse teams from La Salle Academy, East Greenwich and Smithfield have in common?

Rhode IslandEach team is undefeated and is in first place in its respective division and, not surprisingly, is the odds-on favorite to capture a state championship.

The Rams (10-0 in Division I and 12-0), who are coached by Colonel Steven McConnell, the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, boast an offense that’s off the charts.

Through matches of May 21, the Rams have out-scored their opponents by a margin of 202-65.

The story within the story is that La Salle attacks Brady O’Donnell and Joe Manown are the top two scorers in the state regardless of division.

O’Donnell, who’s a senior, has whipped home 56 goals and assisted on 33 while sophomore Manown has scored 49 goals and assisted on 38. What makes Manown’s proficiency all the more noteworthy is the fact he missed most of the 2012 season due to injury.

East Greenwich (13-0 in Division II and 13-2 overall), is riding the backs of 15 seniors who have played an integral role in the Avengers’ offense and defense.

Coach Brian Trapani’s team leads the division with 163 goals and has allowed a stingy total of 43.

Senior Colin Watikun and senior Colin Bernier lead the Avengers with 50 points apiece, Waitkun having scored 39 goals and assisted on 11 with Bernier having fired home 40 goals and assisted on 10.

Smithfield (12-0 in Division III and 12-2 overall) hasn’t lost a division game since the 2010 season.

Coach Joe Renzi’s Sentinels weren’t expected to be a contender since the team graduated 16 players from the 2012 squad. But attacks Brendan Benoit, Nick Gerlach and Matt Walker have led an offense that’s tied with Coventry in goals scored with 139.

MOUND KING
Team sport notwithstanding, the baseball program at Hendricken is heavily reliant on arguably the state’s best pitcher, senior Mike King who’s signed a letter of intent to play at Boston College.

King is a major reason why the Hawks lead Division I-North with a 16-0 record since he’s recorded an 8-1 record replete with 46 strikeouts and a mere six walks in 33 innings.

A right-hander, King didn’t allow his first earned run of the season until May 18 when Hendricken beat La Salle, 4-1. King spaced out six hits while going the distance – again.

King also helps himself at the plate with a batting average that’s hovered around .500 all season.

In a recent 5-1victory over Cranston West, King’s RBI single helped key a five-run first inning.

Another Hawk who’s been wielding a potent bat is John Toppa, grandson of the late Rogers High football coaching legend of the same name.

In a 4-3 victory over St. Raphael, Toppa’s fourth-inning double drove home the game-winning run. And in a 6-1 win over Cumberland, Toppa contributed a single, triple and two RBI.

Elsewhere:

* Central Falls pulled off the upset of the season regardless of division when the Warriors won their first game of the season – 5-2 over Division II-North leader Tolman (12-2). Emmanuel Antigua smacked a two-run single during a four-run fourth inning while Brandon Canuto went the distance for the victory. The loss sliced Tolman’s lead over second-place Scituate (13-3) to one game.

* North Kingstown’s Billy Young improved his record to 4-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 7-0, in a Division II-South game. Young allowed only two hits and fanned 10.

* East Providence’s Colin Costa collected two doubles, a single and five RBI as the Townies (14-1) held onto first place in Division II-Central by beating Mount Pleasant, 9-4. Teammate Colin Grant struck out 17 Kilties en route to the complete-game victory.

CLOSE SHAVE
Never let it be said that East Providence softball coach Rob Traverse isn’t true to his word.

A year ago, the Townies won only three of their first 12 games. Traverse made a “bet” with his players that if they won at least seven games this season he’d shave his head. They did and he did.

East Providence currently is in fifth place in the Division I with a 10-5 record – the Townies’ most impressive victory being a 2-0 blanking of North Kingstown (i.e. it was the Skippers’ first loss).

In that win over the Skippers, EP broke a scoreless tie in the eighth inning on Amy DeCastro’s single and Casey Traverse’s subsequent sacrifice fly.

In other games of note:

* Lincoln High to nobody’s surprise clinched the Division I title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament by beating La Salle, 4-1. Lindsay Mayer allowed only one run on two hits for the 14-0 Lions.

* Division II-East leader Moses Brown (10-5) blanked Central, 6-0, in a crossover game as Emma Rantanen tossed a one-hitter – losing her bid for a no-hitter when Dianna Torres singled with two outs in the sixth.

ENTERING THE HALL
Even though Central Falls is the smallest city in the state, its high school has produced a host of outstanding athletes.

Nine will be inducted into the Central Falls Athletic Hall of Fame on October 11: former boys’ basketball coach Ed McVeigh plus athletes Albert Cardosa, Jeff Desautel, James Dougan, Brian Goodhart, Kevin Guindon, Carmen Pizarro, Russell Standring, Ken Vaudreuil and Kinga Dobrzychi-Zuromski.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Maine

May, 31, 2013
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On May 16, a Foxcroft batter was hit by a pitch in a game against Hermon. Within a couple weeks, Hermon had a new baseball coach.

MaineNumerous media outlets have suggested that those two events are related. According to the Bangor Daily News, Foxcroft led 7-1 in the fifth inning and needed four runs to end the game by the 10-run mercy rule.

With one out, Brooks Law put down a suicide squeeze to score Foxcroft's ninth run. Law reached first on the play, then stole second and third. The batter was hit by the next pitch.

"It did seem suspicious because they were clearly getting very frustrated and it felt like the pitcher really reared back and put something extra on that pitch," Foxcroft coach Mark Chevalier told the BDN.

Aaron Brideau is no longer Hermon's coach. Junior varsity coach Justin Perry coached the hawks in their final regular season game. In his article about the incident, BDN writer Ernie Clark wrote, "The coaching change is believed to be related to the circumstances involving a batter hit by a pitch" in the game in question.

NEW DEFINITION OF PITCHER'S PARK
Madison High completed an undefeated softball season Wednesday with a 7-2 victory over Oak Hill. The Bulldogs are 16-0, and will go in as the No. 1 seed in Western C.

One of Madison's stars is junior pitcher Emily McKenney. With McKenney leading the way, the Bulldogs allowed only 27 runs during the regular season.

But other than the undefeated record, the highlight of Madison's season was a recent home game against Oak Hill. In the top of the first inning, Oak Hill batter Jamie Prue noticed McKenney seemed unusually close. When somebody brought out a tape measure before the fourth inning, it was discovered that the pitcher's plate was 40 feet away, not the regulation 43 feet.

"I got up there," Prue told the Kennebec Journal, "and I remember I squared up to the plate, and I was like, 'She's on top of me.' Three feet is a big difference in softball, and obviously, it was very noticeable. I could tell just by how she was leaping out of the circle. It was unbelievable how close she was."

McKenney, who is a strong candidate for the Moluntain Valley Conference's Player of the Year award, said she believed the pitcher's plate had been at 40 feet all season.

"I definitely told my stepdad at other away games, 'I feel really far away when I pitch,'" McKenney told the KJ. "But I never thought anything of it."

It should be noted that McKenney has pitched -- and hit -- well in both home and road games this spring.

FRIEDLAND, LEAVITT WIN TENNIS SINGLES TITLES
Lincoln's Jordan Friedland defended his state singles title, but Falmouth's Olivia Leavitt upset No. 1 seed and defending champion Maisie Silverman of Brunswick in the state tennis singles tournaments.

Friedland, the No. 1 seed, lost a total of 14 games in his five matches during the tournament. He defeated No. 2 seed Brendan McCarthy of Falmouth, 6-3, 6-0, in the finals.

Silverman rolled through her first four matches, as she lost only six games combined. But in the finals, Leavitt posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

That matched appeared to turn in the third game of the first set. Silverman was trailing and appeared to hit a winner and yelled a short burst of encouragement to herself. But Leavitt returned the ball, and then complained that Silverman broke the rules by shouting during play. Silverman was given a warning, and Leavitt went on to win the next eight games.

"After that I feel like I wasn't as focused as I was in the beginning," Silverman told the BDN. "But she played really well. She really didn't miss a shot at all."

A happier moment came on the first day of the Round of 48. In a second-round match, Johnny Xue of George Stevens Academy was looking a match point for a straight-sets win. Xue retired at that point because he would have been unavailable for his third-round match two days later. That enabled York's Andrew LaMonica to advance to the next round, where he lost to McCarthy, 6-3, 6-3.

The lightest moment of the tournament came when North Yarmouth Academy's Burke Paxton outlasted Cape Elizabeth's Peter Higgins, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in a three-hour match.

After reporting the score, Paxton said to the tournament directors, in reference to his next match later that afternoon, "How long do I have? An hour? Let's push it to the last second possible."

New England Roundup: Vermont

May, 22, 2013
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Rice Memorial's Cassidy Derda has her immediate plans in place.

After spending next season playing for Tilton (N.H.) Prep, Derda will begin her Division I basketball career by joining the St. Francis University program in New York City. Derda, a 6-foot-1 forward, gave a verbal commitment to St. Francis last week.

According to the Burlington Free Press, Derda also considered LaSalle and Farleigh Dickenson.

“I was very indecisive about it,” Derda told the Free Press. “I went back and forth. I believe in my heart that's where I'll be the happiest.

“That's been my goal since I was a freshman – to play at a Division I school. I talked to my family and coaches and we decided it would be be better for college after a year of prep.”

Derda transferred from South Burlington to Rice after his sophomore year. She led the Green Knights to the Division I championship game in her junior and senior seasons. Rice defeated Champlain Valley 46-41 to win the Division I title when Derda was a junior. She led Rice with 14 points and 12 rebounds in that game.

Derda averaged 16.1 points, 7-2 rebounds and two blocked shots per game last season.

Derda's decision to spend a year at Tilton Prep was made, in part, because a scholarship wasn't available at St. Francis until the 2014-15 season.

ST. JOHNSBURY HIRES ALERCIO
Former Castleton State College coach Rich Alercio has been named the head football coach at St. Johnsbury Academy.

Alercio served as Castleton State's coach for the program's first two seasons, but resigned after he allegedly violated NCAA rules by arranging student loans for one of his players. Alercio will also serve as St. Johnsbury's assistant athletic director.

“I am honored to be St. Johnsbury Academy's head football coach and assistant athletic director, and am thrilled with the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes and particularly the young men in our football program,” Alercio said in a press release. “I look forward to being a part of the Hilltopper community with its dedicated and loyal fan and alumni base.”

Alericio replaces Sean Murphy, who resigned earlier this spring.

Alerico guided Castleton State, a Division III program, to a 3-6 record in 2009 and a 5-4 record in 2010.

OFFENSE CARRIES U-32
Kristen Keene collected four goals and an assist, and Maggie Lague added three goals and an assist as the U-32 girls lacrosse team improved its Division II record to 10-0 by beating Rice, 13-12, last Wednesday.

Rice (7-2-1) beat U-32 in the quarterfinals last year en route to the Division II title.

The 13-goal effort was U-32's lowest offensive output of the season. BFA-St. Albans (9-0) is the only other unbeaten team in Division II. BFA-St. Albans lost to Rice in last year's championship game.

STILL PERFECT
Essex (Division I) and BFA-Fairfax entered the week as the only unbeaten softball teams in the state.

Essex, last year's Division I champion, was 11-0 and had scored at least 10 runs in seven of those games. The Hornets had also held their opponents to two runs or fewer in eight contests.

BFA-Fairfax was 12-0 and had scored 23 runs or more four times.

TWIN-STATE BASKETBALL COACHES SELECTED
Connie LaRose of Mount Abraham (girls) and Rutland's Mike Wood (boys) will serve as the Vermont head coaches for this summer's Twin-State Basketball Classic against New Hampshire.

The basketball doubleheader will be played at Essex High School on July 13. The girls contest will begin at 6 p.m., and the boys' game is scheduled to start at 7:45.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: Maine

May, 22, 2013
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Penobscot Valley High School softball coach Thom Coyle already knew how good Kayla Dube is. But when umpires starting raving to him about the movement on Dube’s pitches, Coyle decided to check it out from their perspective.

Maine“I’ve stood back there behind the umpire,” Coyle said. “I’ve never seen a ball actually spin upwards. A lot of girls, they can start it low and it goes up, but hers actually has movement on it.”

Dube is from Enfield, a town of about 1,600 people around Cold Stream Pond, and Penobscot Valley, a Class D school, has only about 175 students. Dube’s high school accomplishments belie her small-town roots. She has over 600 strikeouts in her career, and led the Howlers (PVHS is located in Howland) to the Class D state title last year. In the state championship game, facing a Richmond team that was averaging 11.7 runs per game, Dube threw a four-hitter with 14 strikeouts in a 4-2 victory.

This season, the Howlers are undefeated, and Dube has already thrown six no-hitters. She’s also batting around .300 with one home run, doing so despite a bad leg.

“I strained a muscle behind my knee,” Dube said. “It’s my landing foot, so it really has a bad effect on my knee.”

Dube said the strain could become a tear, and it is painful not only when she pitches, but sometimes when she’s just sitting down. Still, it’s her senior year, and there’s a state title to defend.

“They’d have to pull me off the field,” she said.

Dube has shown that kind of dedication for a long time. Every school year, from September to June, she travels to Bucksport every Sunday to work with pitching coach Bob Mercer. The ride is about three hours round-trip for a two-hour session with Mercer.

“She’s one of the hardest workers you’ll ever see,” Coyle said. “Whenever she does anything, she puts her head right into it, and goes all the way. She rises to the next level when she gets into trouble. She’s really one of a kind.”

With any Class D athlete in any sport in Maine, people always wonder how a star would do playing against teams from larger schools. In softball, Class D schools are all under 200 students. PVHS, which also faces some Class C schools, outscored its opponents 208-23 last season and 187-10 through its first 13 games this spring, making it clear the Howlers are too strong for most of their competition.

But Dube has faced teams from Class B in preseason. This spring, she faced Maine Central Institute, which won seven of its first 12 regular season games in Class B this year. Although it was her first time pitching outside this season, Dube struck out 21 batters in nine innings, and she said she’s always motivated when facing a bigger school.

“I want to prove that [even though] we’re in Class D, we can beat any team,” Dube said. “I think our team is good enough to compete with just about anybody.”

There’s also the question of how Dube will fare in college. Coyle says she’s been clocked at consistently between 55 and 61 miles per hour, and he thinks that can go up when she gets to college and starts lifting weights regularly.

“She’s definitely Division I or II,” Coyle said. “She can handle it. If she wanted to go to the University of Maine, there would be no problem there, because she’s already better the pitcher the University of Maine has.”

Dube is looking at Husson University, a Division III school, but says she has offers from other schools as well and has not made a final decision.

“I really want to play softball,” she said. “So a school with a good softball team that wants me would be great, but it also has to be a nursing school, because I’m going to be a nurse.”

CONY HIRES NEW BASKETBALL COACHES
Cony High School lost both of its basketball coaches within a few weeks of the end of the season. Tim Bonsant resigned from the boys’ job, while Karen Magnusson stepped down after leading the Cony girls to the Eastern A title game.

Cony recently hired its two replacements. Coincidentally, they’re both resigning from head coaching positions at Thomas College in Waterville to take the Cony jobs.

The new boys coach is T.J. Maines, a teacher in the Augusta school system who coached the Thomas men for the last seven seasons, compiling a record of 89-88. Maines led the Terriers to a winning record in each of the last five seasons.

Ted Rioux, the former Thomas women’s coach, takes over for Magnusson on the girls’ side. Rioux coached five years at Belfast Area High School, then won three consecutive Class B state championships at Waterville. His last two teams at Waterville went 11-8 and 4-14, and did not win a tournament game. He then took over the Thomas program and was in the process of building that team. Rioux’s record at Thomas was 12-38 over two seasons.

Oddly enough, the new girls coach at Skowhegan Area High School (another Eastern A school) was also a head coach at the college level last season. Bob Witts comes to Skowhegan after spending one season coaching the Unity College women. Witts led the NAIA in scoring with Hawthorne College in New Hampshire when he averaged 35.4 points per game during the 1980-81 season.

MESSALONSKEE’S VEILLEUX ON MEND
Courtney Veilleux’s coaches were hoping she’d be back by May. After all, Veilleux had surgery in February to remove one of her kidneys.

“I had an appointment in Lewiston with an urologist,” Veilleux told the Morning Sentinel. “He told me that when my mom was pregnant with me, my kidney didn’t fully develop, and it just filled up with fluid. So it was just a really thin layer of kidney material and the rest was all fluid that was just sitting there, getting bigger and bigger.”

While the average kidney is about the size of a fist, one of Veilleux’s kidneys was approximately the size of a football. After being unable to take mour than four or five swings in batting practice during the early days of preseason, Veilleux has played every game in center field for the Eagles, and is hitting over .400. She plans to play at Thomas College next spring.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 17, 2013
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Different year. Same story.

Rhode IslandOr to put it another way, Hendricken is giving every indication that it’s zeroing in on a state-record 18th Division I baseball championship.

Through games of May 7, the Hawks led Division I-North with an 11-0 record – one game ahead of arch-rival La Salle (10-1) whom Hendricken edged, 3-2, on April 17.

Going into the season, veteran coach Ed Holloway knew he would have his ace on the mound in the person of First Team All-State selection Mike King (who’s already signed a letter of intent to play for Boston College).

But the Hawks’ pitching staff has developed into something more than a one-trick pony.

Senior Dillon Manfredi and sophomore Mike McCaffrey have developed into reliable starting pitchers who’ve given Hendricken valuable depth.

Most importantly, the Hawks have shown an uncanny ability to win close games (games decided by one run).

Following is a list of Hendricken victories that underscore the above point:

* McCaffrey went the distance on a two-hitter as Hendricken edged Cranston East, 1-0. The game was tied 1-1 entering the last of the sixth when John Toppa singled with two outs to plate the go-ahead run.

* Manfredi tossed a complete-game four-hitter as Hendricken nipped Johnston, 2-1.

* King hurled a two-hit, 13-strikeout shutout as Hendricken blanked Woonsocket, 2-0. King also helped himself at the plate as he lofted a first-inning sacrifice fly and doubled home a fifth-inning run. King pulled off a major escape act in the top of the seventh when the Villa Novans loaded the bases with none out only to have the Hendricken ace fan three consecutive batters.

* Eddie Markowski’s single in the bottom of the ninth broke a 1-1 tie and gave Hendricken a 2-1 victory over Lincoln.

* King struck out nine and allowed only five hits as the Hawks clipped Cranston West, 2-1. Hendricken utilized the long ball to win this game when Nick Boland belted a solo homer in the top of the seventh inning.

TOWNIE TIME
While Hendricken long has been the dominant baseball team in the state, the same can’t be said of East Providence.

But this year may be different for a school that’s never won a state baseball title.

The Townies moved into sole possession of first place in Division II-Central with a 10-0 record thanks to 3-2, come-from-behind victory over second-place Central (8-2). Jerry Espinal and Keith Grant combined on a six-hitter as the Townies swept the season series from the Knights.

Prior to that game, the Townies outlasted Warwick Vets, 8-4, with Nick Karalekas collecting two hits, two RBI and four stolen bases.

Led by Karalekas plus Alex Hurley, Jasiah Hatch, Mike Allienello and Marc LaValley, the Townies have been pounding the opposition into submission.

Want proof? East Providence out-scored its first 10 opponents by a combined margin of 99-20.

AROUND THE DIAMOND
In two other games of note, North Kingstown beat South County rival South Kingstown, 3-1, and moved into a tie for first place in I-South with each team having a 9-2 record.

The Skippers’ Dom Grillo went the route on a two-hitter – allowing an RBI double in the first and not surrendering another hit until the sixth. In addition, he fanned eight Rebels.

Brian Cox accounted for North Kingstown’s runs, with an RBI single in the fourth and an RBI double in the sixth.

Exeter-West Greenwich (2-8), which has been struggling in Division II-South, rallied from a 6-1 deficit and upset West Warwick, 10-6.

The Scarlet Knights trailed 6-1 entering the fourth when Matt Grenier came on in relief. Grenier blanked the Wizards (4-5) on zero hits over the last 3 1/3 innings which enabled him to notch the victory.

DEFENSE MISSING
Defense was left on each team’s respective bus when the girls’ lacrosse teams from Moses Brown and East Greenwich met in a Division I crossover game.

The Quakers’ Meghan Buonanno scored eight goals and assisted on one while teammate Alexandra Pinsky recorded an unbelievable total of seven goals plus six assists during a 25-19 victory.

Ironically, the Avengers’ Marielle Kraft out-did Buonnano and Pinsky by scoring nine games.

Moses Brown improved to 7-1 in I-North.

AROUND THE RIM
Division I champion La Salle landed two players on the All-State Girls’ Basketball First Team – sophomore Davida Dale and senior Priscilla Dunphy.

Dale led the Rams in scoring with a 17.7 average and was voted MVP honors in the Division I Tournament.

Dunphy, who’ll play her college basketball at UMass-Lowell, averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and two assists for a La Salle team that finished 21-4 overall and won its third consecutive state title.

Rounding out the top five are Exeter-West Greenwich sophomore Taylor Buckley, the Gatorade Rhode Island Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year; Westerly senior Hannah Dobson who finished her career as the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,589 points; and Barrington senior Caitlyn Nolan who averaged 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

HEADING NORTH AND SOUTH
Elizabeth Scala, who played hockey at Bay View Academy before transferring to the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, has signed a letter of intent to play for Syracuse University.

Central senior Carlos Mangum, who earned All-American and All-State honors in the weight throw, has accepted a full ride from the University of Miami. Most recently, Mangum was ranked fourth in the nation in the hammer throw with a heave of 212-feet, 9-inches.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Vermont

May, 16, 2013
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The Rochester girls’ softball team was outscored 50-2 on May 4, when it lost both ends of a doubleheader against West Rutland. Rochester dropped the first game, 27-1, and lost the second contest, 23-1.

VermontA 19-2 loss to Rivendell Academy on Monday dropped the team's Division IV record to 0-7, but the news hasn't been all bad.

The doubleheader against West Rutland marked the first time Rochester had played a game at home since Hurricane Irene ruined the school's softball field in 2011.

“It was awesome to be out there,” Rochester coach Lisa Blair told The Burlington Free Press. “The players were just so excited to finally play there. The girls get a better field.”

Rochester, which won the Division IV state title in 2011, traveled to each of its games last season while a new field was constructed. Rochester's field now features a new electronic scoreboard.

LAMOTHE RETURNS TO HOME FIELD
Former Lyndon Institute pitcher Buddy Lamothe was honored before Lyndon's baseball game against Montpelier last week.

Lamothe, who led the Vikings to the Division II state title in 2009, suffered a spinal cord injury during a swimming accident two years ago that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Lamothe was playing for San Jacinto College in Texas when he was injured.

Lamothe had a 0.77 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings for San Jacinto. He was drawing interest from professional teams before the injury, and the Houston Astros picked Lamothe in the 40th round that year after the accident occurred.

MOVING UP
Girls’ lacrosse will likely have a new look next season.

The Vermont Principals' Association has proposed that BFA-St. Albans, Burr and Burton and Rice move from Division II to Division I starting in 2014. Rice and U-32 were both unbeaten after six games this season. Rice was 4-1-1.

If the proposal is approved, those three teams would join Brattleborough, Burlington, Champlain Valley Union, Essex, Middlebury, Mount Anthony, Mount Mansfield, Rutland, South Burlington and Spaulding in Division I.

Division II would have 15 teams: Chelsea, Colchester, Green Mountain Valley, Hartford, Harwood, Lamoille, Montpelier, Oxbow, Randolph, St. Johnsbury, Stowe, Stratton, U-32, Vergennes and Woodstock.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE?
The Essex softball team won the 2012 Division I state championship, and may be the team to beat again this season.

At 7-0, Essex is the only unbeaten team in Division I. The Hornets have outscored their opponents 83-17 in their seven victories.

TOUGH TO HIT
"Kayla Wood didn't allow a hit through nine innings of the Brattleborough softball team's season opener against Hartford, but the scoreless game was suspended in the 10th inning. Wood will try to complete her no-hit pitching performance when the suspended game resumes on May 29.

"Randolph Rachel Johnson had thrown two no-hitters through her team's first four games this season. Johnson, a sophomore, didn't allow a hit in victories over South Royalton and U-32.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
6:10
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White Mountains Regional won last year's Division III softball championship, but there's a lot to like about this year's White Mountains team as well.

New HampshireThe Spartans, who improved their Division III record to 13-0 by beating Kennett, 5-1, Monday, are the only unbeaten high school softball or baseball team in New Hampshire. White Mountains has dominant pitching and a .460 team batting average.

"We have some unrecognized girls who have been playing pretty good defense too,” White Mountains coach Forrest Hicks said. “I feel we’re a complete team. These girls have played together a lot."

White Mountains has 10 players on its roster who played in more than 100 games for the Way North summer league team last year. Junior pitcher Erica Millett is among those players. Millett is 11-0 with a 0.56 ERA this spring.

White Mountains, which beat Stevens of Claremont to win last year's title, has surrendered 13 runs in its 13 games.

"If Erica’s not the best pitcher in the state, she’s probably very close," Hicks said. "She throws multiple pitches, she throws hard and she has great control."

All but one player in the White Mountains starting lineup is batting over .400. Rebecca Hicks (Forrest's daughter) is batting a team-high .547, followed by Kaylee Savage (.523) and Chelsea Payer (.517).

Forrest Hicks said he expects Gilford and Campbell to be among the major obstacles between White Mountains and another state title.

"I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I’m really not surprised by how the girls have been playing," he said. "We were competitive against a lot of good teams in the summer. The only real surprise has been the consistency of our defense."

LET THERE BE LIGHTS
Pinkerton Academy football fans will have their Saturdays free this fall.

Lights are scheduled to be installed at Pinkerton Academy's football field and track in time for the Astros to play their 2013 home games on Friday nights. Last season, Pinkerton was the only Division I football program without lights.

"I've been told that we are good to go," Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. "They have announced it to the public. The lights will go up in May and June."

Pinkerton's first home night game will be Sept. 13 against Manchester Central. The Astros will also play Londonderry, Concord and Goffstown at home this season.

COACHING CAROUSEL
Claude Gagnon's tenure as Spaulding's football coach was a short one. Gagnon resigned in late April after spending one season as the the Red Raiders' head coach. Spaulding athletic director Kevin Hebert said Gagnon, who is self-employed, had to make some commitments in his personal life that prevented him from returning for a second season.

“He's a builder and things have been pretty busy for him, and his son is in the military and heading back to Afghanistan, so he'll have to help take care of his grandson while he's gone,” Hebert said

Spaulding was 3-8 overall and 2-6 in Division II last season. Gagnon's replacement will be Spaulding's fifth head coach in as many years.

TOUGH TO BEAT
The Bedford boys' lacrosse team extended its winning streak to 33 games by posting a 13-6 Division II triumph over Bow on Monday.

Bedford's winning streak, which began last season, includes victories over three Division I opponents this season: Exeter (11-10), Hanover (11-7) and Londonderry (16-6).

PITCHING IN
Hanover's Joe Cravero tossed a no-hitter against rival Lebanon on May 8. Cravero, who will play for Holy Cross next season, struck out 16 – including 11 of the last 12 batters he faced – in Hanover's 8-0 victory.

MEMORABLE MILESTONE
The Alvirne baseball team's 11-1 triumph over Salem on Monday was career victory No. 300 for Mike Lee, who is in his 30th season as Alvirne’s head coach.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report.

New England Roundup: Maine

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
11:04
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Waterville senior Bethanie Brown is coming off a winter season where she posted new state records in the mile and 2-mile. She was also state champion in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 last spring. She also found time to be a state finalist in the Poetry Out Loud competition and blog for a high school running website, and she recently won the 2013 Maine Principals' Association Award, which takes into account a student's academic excellence, outstanding school citizenship, and leadership.

MaineBrown will be running for the University of Connecticut this fall. She recently took time to answer some questions about UConn and her high school career.

Q: What made you decide on the University of Connecticut?

A: "It was a number of things. Overall, out of all of the colleges that I looked at, it seemed to be the best fit for me. Recruiting junior year and especially last summer and fall was a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I got multiple calls every week last summer, and got to talk to a lot of coaches about their college, the team, and their coaching style. I finally narrowed it down to my top five, and those were the ones I took official visits to. After visiting each one and thinking about all the pros and cons of each school, I felt like UConn was the best fit. The University is big, so I’ll have lots of options open for majors, which is important since I’m sort of undecided. I really like the coach, and I feel like her coaching style will work well with my personality. I met the team and really liked them, and I also know some people in Connecticut so it won’t be as nerve-wracking to live there without my parents."

Q: You mentioned in one of your blogs about running laps and seeing the same neighbors walking their dogs five times. Obviously, there's some drudgery in running. What kinds of things do you do to stay motivated?

A: "Yes, I tend to joke about that. Since one loop of my neighborhood is 0.9 miles, it’s kind of like a giant track! It’s fun to see all my neighbors when I’m out running. We’ll say hello and even chat sometimes when I finish my run. It’s nice to have neighborhood support. Obviously, running loops can get boring at times, so when I feel bored I switch it up and run other routes. But, as a track person, I like running in circles! During the track season I usually run near the high school instead of in my neighborhood, so that gives my running a little bit of variety.

"In terms of staying motivated, it’s not that hard because I like to run. There are days when I’m tired, and maybe not as anxious for my run as on other days, but I know the importance of continuity in training, and so I just do it. But I usually look forward to racing and going to practice, because running is something that I genuinely enjoy."

Q: You and the Waterville girls have had such an incredible run during your high school years. Do you find yourself thinking a lot about how your high school career is almost over?

A: "I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that this is actually my last high school track season. It feels so normal to be a part of the Waterville track team! It has been an incredibly exciting experience to go into each year aiming for a state title as a team. It creates a supportive, focused atmosphere, because each person knows that they need their teammates to do their best in order to win. As a freshman, I was intimidated by the team of older kids who were so good at their events, and so knowledgeable and serious about track. I remember being nervous to compete, but really enjoying being a part of such a successful team. Now, I guess I’m the older, serious track athlete. It feels strange to think I won’t be there next year to help out the team. I will miss it so much, even though I’m excited for next year too. It’s been so fun."

Q: Ian Wilson is regarded as one of the best coaches in the state. What makes him so good at what he does?

A: "He’s really serious about track, and he devotes a lot of time to the team. He studies and continually learns more about the sport, so even though he never ran track, he is really good at helping his athletes to have good mechanics. He can look at someone who has never run track before, and know what they will be good at. He has made a lot of individual state champions, and, well, the team championships speak for themselves. It might seem like Waterville has a lot of talent, but really, it’s that kids who have just as much talent as any other kids in any other school are spending 6 days a week at track practice, running and doing strength work, and working really hard to improve.

"Every meet, he emphasizes the importance of getting better each week. He plans tough, demanding workouts for his team, and the team toughs it out because they respect him and are motivated by him and his goals for the team. Not only is he good at the training side of track, he is also really good at the psychology of it too. He tells motivating stories, puts motivational quotes on the practice plan every day, and knows how to make his team feel confident in their abilities. He has a good sense of what motivates certain individuals, and what helps them specifically to do well.

"As a freshman, I was a little scared of him, I will admit. Scared because he seems very intimidating. In reality, he knows what he’s doing, and isn’t actually as scary as I thought he wasthat is, as long as you stay clean from drugs and alcohol, wear practice uniforms, never miss practice without permission, and give 110% effort in practice and at meets. He’s the coach you’ll hear bellowing from the sidelines at track meets. Trust me, it’s like magic. When he yells, you do go faster. Even if you feel like you’re giving your all, you just find another gear. It’s sort of like a lion’s chasing youbut instead it’s Wilson yelling at you. Overall, he’s just a really experienced, knowledgeable, motivating coach. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with him."

Q: Bill Stewart wrote a column in the Morning Sentinel, urging people to go watch you run so they could see greatness. What were some of the reactions you had when you read that column? Did your teammates kid you about it?

"My parents told me about it and read me some quotes from the article, because they really liked it, but they didn’t have me read it. They are saving it for me to read at the end of the season. They don’t want to put too much pressure on me. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from members of the community who saw the article and thought it was very nice, so I’m excited to read it. A parent of one of my friends told me that he liked seeing that article because he had been telling people at work for a while that they should come and watch me run."

Q: Alex Jenson is such a key part of your team, and she's out for the season with an injury. What's it like to watch a teammate go through that?

A: "It’s really hard because I know it must be so frustrating for her to watch other people compete, and not be able to. It’s her senior year, and she has loved being coached by Wilson, and has been such a key part of our team even since freshman year. I live near her, and so we have been friends since she moved to Waterville in fourth grade and we rode the bus together. I’ve always been impressed with her talent and work ethic, and I know that she’ll find a way to stay positive through this disappointment because she’s really tough."

Q: What kind of goals do you have for this season?

A: "My goal is to improve! It sounds so simple, but it can be difficult to keep finding ways to improve yourself. And when you finally get a PR, it feels so good! It’s a feeling of accomplishment to know that you just ran faster than you have ever run before. This season, I started off with a lifetime PR in the 3200 (two-mile) of 10:22, and so I’d be thrilled to improve that time. In my races I have to run at the front a lot, which is different than running with a pack of girls, and can be hard to do sometimes. So, another goal is to just be really focused and tough even when I’m just racing the clock."

NEW INDUCTEES FOR MAINE SPORTS HALL OF FAME

The Maine Sports Hall of Fame inducted 10 new members at its annual banquet May 5 at the Augusta Civic Center. Included on that list are four people who are inducted based on their contributions to Maine high school sports:

- Skowhegan field hockey coach Paula Doughty, who has won 438 career games and 14 Class A state championships. Doughty has twice won the National Coach of the Year award, and her teams have won 11 of the last 12 Class A state titles.

-Cony girls basketball coach Paul Vachon. Now the athletic director at Cony, Vachon compiled a 451-40 record while coaching the Rams. He won 11 regional and seven Class A state championships.

-Football coach John Wolfgram, who has won a total of 10 state championships at four different high schools. Wolfgram's Cheverus team won 34 consecutive games from 2010 to 2012. That broke the previous state record of 31, set by Wolfgram's South Portland team from 1995 to 1997.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

With spring season under way, here are eight athletes you should know about. This isn’t meant to be a list of the best athletes in their sports, but it is clear that all of them can be expected to be at the top of their game this season:

Ryan Rebar, Foxcroft baseball: An outstanding three-sport athlete, baseball is Rebar’s best sport. He’s a pitcher and shortstop. “A sign of a top notch pitcher is the ability to put up great numbers even when he does not have his best stuff,” says Marc Calnan of Examiner.com. “Ryan Rebar does that. I have covered many games that Rebar has pitched between high school and American Legion in the last four years. I have not seen any situation overwhelm him. As a shortstop, he is as smooth as anyone in any class.”

Sonja Morse, Cony softball: Softball is still a game dominated by talented pitchers, and Morse carried Cony to the state title last year and could do so again this spring. Morse went 13-0 with 0.50 ERA last season, with 146 strikeouts in 87 innings. At the plate, she hit .479 and drove in 30 runs in 22 games. In the state final against South Portland, Morse retired the first 20 batters before losing her perfect game on a two-out single in the seventh of Cony’s 2-0 victory.

Patrick Ordway, Waynflete tennis: Ordway won the state singles title as a sophomore, and seemed poised to do it again last spring. He was the No. 1 seed and breezed into the semifinals, losing a total of five games in his first three matches. But in the semis, Ordway was stunned by fifth-seeded Jordan Friedland of Lincoln Academy, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Friedland went on to win the state title, and is back as a senior to defend his title. Their teams don’t meet in the regular season and can’t meet in the playoffs, but if Ordway and Friedland meet in the state singles tournament, it will be a fun match to watch.

Maisie Silverman, Brunswick tennis: Silverman was the state singles runner-up as a freshman in 2011, and took the title last year as a sophomore, defeating Falmouth senior Annie Criscione, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Silverman was also tested in the tournament by Waterville’s Colleen O’Donnell and Falmouth’s Olivia Leavitt, both of whom are back this year. Brunswick is also out to defend its team Class A state title.

Nicco DeLorenzo, Kennebunk lacrosse: The name rolls off the tongue, but he’s more than just a name. According to a preseason feature article in the Portland Press Herald, DeLorenzo, a junior at Kennebunk, has already verbally committed to play at Colgate. DeLorenzo had 120 ground balls last season, and is a presence as a long-stick midfielder.

Lauren Steidl, Cape Elizabeth lacrosse: Steidl is coming off a season in which she scored 58 goals and dished out 26 assists as the Capers reached the Western B championship game. Steidl will play for Princeton next year. She’s actually one of two 50-goal scorers on the Cape Elizabeth roster. Talley Perkins, who will play at Boston University next season, had 50 goals last year.

Alex Shain, Sanford track and field: Shain was a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist after rushing for 1,400 yards and scoring 28 touchdowns for the Sanford football team this fall. He does the running thing pretty well in the spring, too. Shain is the defending Class A state champion in the 100 (11.33 seconds) and the triple jump (42 feet, 6.75 inches). He was also part of the school’s state champion 4x100 relay team, and placed fifth in the long jump (20 feet, 0.25 inches).

Bethanie Brown, Waterville track and field: Brown has one of the best résumés of any runner around. Last spring, she won the Class A state title in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 55.23 seconds) and 3,200 (10:34.79) then went out and won both of those events at the New England championships. She also helped Waterville’s 4x400 relay team win the state title. The winter, she set Class B state indoor record in the mile and 2-mile. Brown is headed to the University of Connecticut this fall. In a preseason column, the Morning Sentinel’s Bill Stewart wrote, “As you fill the calendars with what you hope to see this spring, particularly when the weather pleasantly warms, do yourself a favor and go see Waterville senior Bethanie Brown run. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.”

New England Roundup: Connecticut

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
5:10
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Next winter, Bill Gerosa will get to sleep in.

Gerosa resigned as Notre Dame-West Haven's boys hockey coach Thursday after holding that position for the last 15 years. He guided the Green Knights to the Division I state title in 2002 and 2012.

“It's time for me to do something different,” Gerosa told the New Haven Register. “I really don't want to get up at 5 a.m. anymore.

“I had a great experience at Notre Dame, but I need to do other things even though I don't know what those other things are right now.”

Gerosa will also retire as an English teacher at Notre Dame after the current school year.

Gerosa, 68, began his high school coaching career at Guilford in 1987 and remained with that program through the 1995-96 season. Guilford won the Division II state title in 1994.

Gerosa was an assistant coach for the Fairfield University men's hockey team during the 1996-97 season, and became the Notre Dame-West Haven coach in 1998-99.

Notre Dame had a 215-115-0 record with Gerosa behind the bench.

FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE HIRES CAMERA
Vincent Camera is the new varsity football coach at Fairfield Ludlowe. Camera spent the last six seasons as the head coach at Platt Tech, which started its program in 2007.

“Vinnie was the standout candidate in the interview process and we are looking forward to him joining our staff at Fairfield Ludlowe,” Fairfield Ludlowe athletic director Dave Schulz said in a statement.

A 1997 East Haven High graduate who played football at Fairfield University, Camera posted a 24-37-1 record at Platt Tech The Panthers were 6-4 last season –- the first winning season in the program's history.

Fairfield Ludlowe finished with a 5-5 record last season. Former Fairifield Ludlowe coach Matt McCloskey resigned at midseason when his team was 1-5. Fairfield Ludlowe won its last four games.

CROMWELL SEEKING REPEAT
The Cromwell baseball team won last year's Class S title, and the Panthers appear to be just as strong this season.

Cromwell improved its record to 13-1 and stretched its winning streak to 12 games when it beat Old Saybrook 11-2 last Wednesday. Cromwell hasn't lost since it dropped a 6-2 decision against Haddam-Killingworth on April 5.

Logan Lessard pitched a complete game and struck out seven against Old Saybrook. He improved his record to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.52.

The Panthers aren't lacking pitching depth, as Doug Davenport is 5-0 with a 0.90 ERA, and Christian Budzik is 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA. Davenport was the winning pitcher –- either as a starter or in relief -– in Cromwell's final four tournament games last season. He finished the season with a 9-1 record and a 2.09 ERA.

ON THE RISE
Weston's Emily Savage set a state record in the pole vault at the Penn Relays, where she cleared 13 feet, 1-1/2 inches. Savage beat Emma King of Oakdale High School in Maryland (12-91/2) to win the event.

Darien's Robin Bone set the previous record (12-61/4) in 2010. Savage's performance also established a meet record.

FORAN TERRITORY
Former Foran boys basketball standout Steve Schuler has been named to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame's 2013 class.

Schuler, currently the women's basketball coach at Post University, will be inducted during a June 22 banquet in Worcester, Mass.
Schuler scored more than 1,300 points at Foran. He played college basketball for St. Joseph's College in Standish, Maine, and completed his college career seventh on the program's all-time scoring list. He is the only player in St. Joseph's history who never lost a home game.

GENTILE GIANT
Windsor Locks pitcher Mike Gentile struck out a school-record 19 batters during a no-hitter against Canton on April 22. Windsor Locks won the game 2-0.

Gentile, a senior who throws left-handed, walked two and one batter reached on an error. The victory improved his record to 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA.

Gentile also carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of an April 11 game against Ellington. He ended up allowing two hits in his team's 4-0 triumph.


Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and has been covering high school sports throughout New England sine 1992.

New England Roundup: Connecticut

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
3:22
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Last Wednesday was an emotional day for those associated with the Foran High School baseball program, and it had little to do with Foran's 5-0 loss to rival Law.

<img src="http://a.espncdn.com/espncitysites/boston/prod/assets/hs_connect_110.jpg" alt="Connecticut" class="floatright" />Earlier that day Foran named its baseball field after Ken Walker, who served as Foran's baseball coach from 1986 to 2003, and then from 2011 to 2012. He passed away last June at age 60.

Walker won 279 games during his tenure as Foran's baseball coach – all of his teams qualified for the state tournament – but he also guided the Foran football team to the 1994 Class M title.

Walker graduated from Milford High School in 1969 and then played baseball at Central Connecticut State. He was a three-sport athlete in high school (he also played football and basketball) and coached at all three Milford high schools: Milford, Foran and Law.

“I saw, probably, every public school athlete that came through Milford in the last 48 years,” former Milford baseball coach Dick Jeynes told the Connecticut Post. “In my opinion, he's arguably the best all-around. That's my opinion because he was outstanding at all three – football, basketball and baseball.”

Walker's son Garrett replaced is father as Foran's baseball coach.

“I've never thought about it as anybody else's field except his,” Garrett said. “In my eyes, it's finally getting the name I think it deserves.”

DIAMOND GEMS
Ten players to watch during the 2013 CIAC baseball and softball seasons:

Baseball
"Anthony Alicki, P/1B (Foran): Senior has committed to play at Franklin Pierce, one of the top Division II programs in the country.

"Charles Ameer, P/SS (Weston): Has been clocked in the low 90s. Will continue his baseball career at St. John's.

"Matt Blandino, P (Bristol Central): A possible selected in June's MLB draft, Blandino has committed to play at Central Connecticut State.

"Michael Concato, P (Amity): Concato, a senior, posted an 11-2 record with 108 strikeouts and a 0.61 ERA last season. He will play at Brown.

"Manny Cruz, P/INF (Wolcott): Hit .503 with 28 RBIs, and was 6-0 on the mound last season. Has committed to Southern New Hampshire University.

"Kyle Dunster, P/OF (Greenwich): Dunster, a junior, has committed to play at Boston College.

"Griffen Garabedian, OF (Notre Dame-West Haven): Batted .403 and stole 12 bases as a junior last season. Has committed to play at the University of Connecticut.

"Aaron Hill, INF. (Fitch): Hill has also committed to play at the University of Connecticut. He hit .395, scored 21 runs, collected 19 RBIs and stole 11 bases last season.

"Will Rios, P (St. Bernard): Only a sophomore, Rios has already committed to the University of Maryland.

"Ryan Testani, P (Shelton): Helped Shelton win the Class LL state championship last season, when his posted a 9-3 record and a 1.31 ERA. Testani has committed to Seton Hall.

Softball
"Fallon Bevino, OF (Foran): A three-year starter, Bevino hit .450 with 22 RBIs last season as a sophomore.

"Sydney Ferrante, SS (Southington): Batted .453 with 46 RBIs as a junior last season.

"Hannah Ford, C/3B (New Fairfield): Ford, a junior, hit .525 with 25 runs scored and 21 RBIs last season.

"Katelyn Haff, 2B (Waterford): Senior led her team with a .477 average last season, when she collected six triples, four home runs and 33 RBIs.

"Jess Harkness, P (Foran): Posted a 23-2 record with 270 strikeouts in 186 innings last season.

"Kaitlyn Lajoie, P (Rockville): Had a 22-2 record and a 0.76 ERA to help the Rams win the Class L title as a junior.

"Erika Leonard, SS (Rocky Hill): Hit .494 with 40 hits and 19 RBIs for last year's Class M champion.

"Katie Petroski, INF (Seymour): Had a .505 average with 55 RBIs and 45 runs scored last season as a sophomore.

"Jenn Vazquez, C (St. Joseph): Has committed to play at Manhattan College. Hit .468 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs last season.

"Kayla Votto, 2B (Coginchaug): Senior led her team in batting average (.500), triples (12) and RBIs (36) last season.

GREENWICH GIRLS START STRONG
The Greenwich girls' lacrosse program has won the last two Class L championships, and, judging by the early results, this year's team appears capable of extending that streak.

Greenwich is off to a 5-0 start and has outscored its opponents 84-36. Greenwich's latest victory was a 16-8 triumph over Stamford on Friday. The Cardinals were without leading scorer Emily Johnson (hamstring) for that contest, but senior Emma Christie stepped up and scored a career-high five goals against Stamford.

The Greenwich program has won nine games in a row, dating back to last season.

BOYS OF SUMMER
Players selected in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Classic Military Bowl draft for the game that will be played June 29 at Rentschler Field:

Connecticut Marines Team: Quinn Fleeting, Windsor, QB; Cole Ormsby, Windsor, DE; Kevin Dean, Xavier, OL; Jeremy Clarke, Woodland, OL; Sean Merrill, Sheehan, OL; Mike LaSala, Wilton, OL; Ryheime Moore, Windsor, WR; Raeshaun Finney, Ansonia, WR; Teno Simpson, Hillhouse, LB; Rahmi Roundtree, Woodland, WR; Denzel Moscova, St. Joseph, WR; Devonte Dillion, Windsor, RB; Isiah Swain, Middletown, LB; Joe Pacheco, New Fairfield, RB; Andre Gee West Haven, S; Lamont Waites, New London, LB; Brandon Marquis, Farmington, DL; Nick Spitz, Southington, LB; Donery Evans, Hyde, DL; Eddy Williams, West Haven, LB; David Campbell, Bloomfield, RB/CB; Akeino Chamberlain, Middletown, LB; Caleb Camacho, New London, WR; Dennis Flanagan, Amity, OL; Sixto Acosta, Newington, LB; Jesse Adelberg, Greenwich, K; Mike Alexander, Bulkeley, S; Ian Auger, Coginchaug, LB; William Barrett, West Haven, OL; Nathan Bonafonte, Southington; S; Andrew Campbell, Middletown, LB; Brennan Diaz, Oxford, QB; Nygel Gladney, Crosby, LB; Cam Gravina, Hand, OL; Zak Hedberg, Newington, OL; Spencer Hill, Windham, FB; Rakim Jordan, Prince Tech, LB; Jevon Lawrence, Manchester, DL; Brandon Marquis, Manchester, DL; Terrance N'Dabian, Bunnell, CB; Emmett Odegard, Greenwich, LS; Lance Ormsby, Windsor, LB; Christian Outlaw, Middletown, OL; Rashad Ramsey, Windsor, WR; Roy Ricahards, Manchester, RB; Miguel Santos, Xavier, DL; Mike Semacik, Fitch, OL; O'Brien Sinclair, Middletown, WR; Carlton Steer, East Hartford, TE; Shane Steinman, Rocky Hill, RB; David Tanner, East Hartford, RB; Jh'mel Trammell, Ansonia, LB; Chris Traore, Windsor, LB; Jalon White, North Haven, QB; David Wilcox, Waterford, DL; Chuck Wooding, Glastonbury, RB.

Head coach: Rob Fleeting, Windsor. Assistant coaches: John Ferrazzi, Sheehan; Roy Roberts, Newington; Sal Morello, Middletown; Duane Maranda, New London; Harry Bellucci, Hartford Public; Scott Jenkins, Windsor; and Derrick Lewis, Bassick.

Connecticut National Guard Team: Tim Boyle, Xavier; QB; Nick Gaynor, Northwest Catholic, DB/RB; Zack Creeron, Xavier, OL/DL; Je'Vaughn Moore , Hillhouse, QB/DB;; Max Schumann, Xavier, OL/DL; Justin Potts, Platt, RB/DBback; Max Tylki, Xavier, LB; Terrell Huff, Windsor, DB; Chris Luster, Xavier, WR/DB; Jonah Dorsey, Xavier, OL/DL; Kyle Wilson, Ledyard, OL; Terrell Fairweather, Hillhouse, LB; Kadialy Toure, West Haven, LB; Marc Wildman, Housatonic, DL; Brandon Robertson , Montville, TE; Daequane Clark, New Britain, WR; Ed Croft, Shelton, K; Sam Miranda, New London, WR; Alex Borkowski, Branford, LB; Mick Pernell, Naugatuck, WR; Derek Villard, Cromwell, RB; Dan Herbert, Newtown, WR; Jelani Roman, Notre Dame-Fairfield, LB; Jake Pelletier, St. Joseph, WR; John Shannon, Bullard Havens, RB; Mike Nichol, Wolcott, QB; Saffwan Davis, Fitch, RB; Austin Kingsbury, Windsor Locks, FB; Antonine Byrd, Capital Prep/Classical Magnet, WR; Dillon McMahon, Derby, WR; Hector Rodriguez, Berlin, OL; Ryan Murtha, Montville, OL; Justin Pelazza, Branford, OL; Robert Roehrich, St. Joseph, OL; Mitch Blanchette, Berlin, OL; Ben Morales, Ledyard, OL; Bobby Bozym, Ledyard, OL; Abdullah Dukalay, Hartford Public, DB; Kevin Main, Berlin, DB; Justin Develis, Newtown, DB; Mustaphe Noibi, Fitch, DB; Christian Clark, Windham, DG; Cal Karpi, Ledyard, DB; Mike Pulaski, St. Joseph, LB; Chris Golger, Fairfield Prep, LB; Devin Stewart, Northwest Catholic, LB; Alex Kyprianou, New Milford, LB; Patrick Kirkwood, Fitch, LB; Miles Pompeii-Grove, Holy Cross, LB; Al Harris, Windsor, DL; Andrew Klarman, Branford, DL; Eric Collodel, Woodland, DL; Bryan Monaco, Masuk, DL; Lester Smith, Fitch, DL; Colton Schilling, Guilford, DL.

Head coach: Jim Buonocore, Ledyard. Assistant coaches: Sean Marinan, Xavier; Jemal Davis, Norwich Free Academy; Tim Shea, Woodland; Duncan Dellavolpe, Warde; Tanner Grove, Montville; John Marinelli, New Canaan; Andy Guyon, Xavier; Chris Silvestri, New Canaan; and Chris Eckert, Cromwell.

FITCH PICKS PANUCCI
Jodan Panucci, 26, was named Fitch's varsity football coach last Tuesday.

Panucci has spent the last five years as an assistant coach with the program. He was an offensive lineman at Fitch and a team captain in his senior season.

Panucci replaces Mike Emery, who stepped down last year after 17 seasons as Fitch's head coach.

FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE SELECTS DAILEY
John Dailey has been named the varsity boys basketball coach at Fairfield Ludlowe. He replaces Brian Silvestro, who retired following the 2012-13 season.

Dailey has been with the Fairfield Ludlowe program as a freshman coach, a junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant coach for the last six seasons. He coached the varsity team for four games last season while Silvestro dealt with a medical issue.

Roger Brown is a staff writer with the New Hampshire Union Leader, and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

New England Roundup: Vermont

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
2:55
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There was no shortage of candidates to replace Brad Parker as Champlain Valley Union's girls' soccer coach.

VermontAccording to a story in the Burlington Free Press, a five -person search committee narrowed the field to five individuals – four of whom were interviewed – before selecting former CVU boys' soccer assistant coach Stan Williams.

Williams graduated from CVU in 1989, and was an assistant coach with the CVU girls program in 2001, 2003-04 and 2010. He also served as the program's co-head coach with Parker in 2002.

Parker, who resigned in February, guided CVU to a 340-45-42 record and 11 state championships in his 25 seasons as head coach. He was selected as the national coach of the year in 1997.

“It's a program with pressure, but also a program that anybody would want to coach,” Williams told the Free Press. “It's obviously an exciting position. This job has always been something I've held out there as a job I've wanted.”

CVU has won the last two Division I titles. Fifteen players are eligible to return from last year's team.

Williams has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for the CVU boys soccer team. He also coached the CVU girls basketball team from 2002 to 2009.

MMU BASEBALL ADDS FAMILIAR FACE
The Mount Mansfield Union baseball team posted a 9-2 triumph over Milton in its first game under interim coach Bob Slayton, who agreed to a one-year commitment to the program when head coach Brian Chandler decided not to coach the team this spring after the birth of his second child.

Mount Mansfield appears to be in capable hands since Slayton, 66, guided MMU to four Division I state championships and 356 victories in 34 seasons before he retired in 2008.

Chandler was an assistant under Slayton for nine seasons before he became head coach when Slayton retired.

GOAL-ORIENTED
Rice Memorial's Emily Cutting recorded her 100th career varsity goal in a season-opening lacrosse victory over St. Johnsbury.

Cutting collected five goals in last year's Division III title game, a 13-11 triumph over BFA-St. Albans. She also scored five goals in Rice's second game of the season, a 10-9 loss to BFA-St. Albans. Kate Dillon scored with one second remaining to give BFA-St. Albans the victory.

ALL-STAR BASKETBALL GAMES RETURN
The Twin-State Basketball Classic, two all-star games between players from Vermont and New Hampshire, will be held July 13 at Essex High School. The girls game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., and the boys game will follow.

The Twin-State Basketball Classic was once a must-see event for high school basketball fans in each state, but was discontinued in 2010 after a 30-year run. The New Hampshire boys and girls each have an 18-12 edge in the series.

The rosters and coaches for each team are expected to be released in May.

WILLINGHAM HEADED TO PREP SCHOOL
Rice Memorial forward Marcus Willingham announced that he will attend Tilton (N.H.) Prep next season. Willingham had 17 points and 14 rebounds when Rice defeated St. Johnsbury in last month's Division I championship game.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader and has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.

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