Boston High School: New Hampshire

Northeast 7v7: Prep claims North title

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
EXETER, N.H. -- James DiBenedetto had a hard time getting on the field when the St. John’s Prep football team had the ball last season. It’s unlikely the same will be true this fall.

DiBenedetto, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver, caught a touchdown pass and another pass for a two-point conversion to help St. John’s Prep defeat Tewksbury 16-8 to win the Under Armour 7-on-7 tournament’s North Regional on Saturday.

“We still have a strong running team here, but coach (Brian) St. Pierre likes to throw the ball,” DiBenedetto said. “As you can see, we’re a pretty strong with passing. It’s good to win this. This really shows how much chemistry the team has.”

DiBenedetto, who will be a senior this season, is a Topsfield resident who played primarily safety and outside linebacker last season.

“It was hard to find an offensive position for him last year,” said Mike O’Leary (son of former St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary), who coached the Eagles in the 7-on-7 event. “There was a senior at the X (wide receiver) last year, so he was all over the map (on defense). This year he’s moving to the offensive side of the ball.”

DiBenedetto was part of a deep group of receivers that seemed to separate St. John’s Prep from most of the competition Saturday. That group included 6-foot-4 tight end Jake Burt, wide receiver Michael Calascibetta and wide receiver Owen Rockett. Burt also caught a TD pass against Tewksbury. Rockett capped the scoring with a two-point-conversion catch.

Calascibetta is known as “Gloves” because he once was the only player to wear gloves to a quarterback/receiver camp. Burt, a Lynnfield resident, committed to Boston College in April. He said Virginia and Harvard were also in the picture when he chose BC.

“I wanted to play a higher level of football than the Ivy League, so BC was everything I wanted in a school,” Burt said. “It’s always good to start off the season with a win, no matter what kind of football it is. It’s still football.”

St. John’s Prep, which used both A.J. Carrigan and Oliver Eberth at quarterback, also won the North Regional last year, when the Eagles went on to win the tournament championship. Carrigan was with St. John’s Prep last season. Eberth is a transfer from Andover.

St. John’s Prep went 3-1 in pool play, and then won single-elimination games against Marshwood (South Berwick, Maine), Danvers and York, Maine, to reach the championship game. The tournament featured 40 teams.

“Our quarterback play was good,” O’Leary said. “They did just what we asked them to do. Between James and Jake, those are two very tall, tall kids. Very tough to cover for small corners out there.”

Championship bound: By reaching the North Regional’s championship game, St. John’s Prep and Tewksbury each advanced to the New England championship, which will be held July 30 at Bishop Fenwick High School (4 p.m.).

The New England championship will feature 10 teams: the finalists from each of the three regionals, plus four wildcard teams. The South Regional will be held today at Oliver Ames High School in North Easton, and the East Regional will be July 26 at Bishop Fenwick.

Jaguars make strong statement: Windham (N.H.) handed St. John’s Prep its only loss. The Jaguars were led by 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback Brendan McInnis, who will be one of the top QBs in New Hampshire next season.

Dartmouth, Brown, Merrimack College, Holy Cross and the University of New Hampshire are among the schools that have shown interest in McInnis.

“Dartmouth has emerged as the frontrunner,” McInnis said. “Right now I’m focused on getting to UNH (the site of New Hampshire’s state championship games), then I’ll try to make a decision.”

Windham won its first five games before it lost to Tewksbury in the quarterfinals.

New digs, same success: Former Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko led Marshwood to a 4-0 record in pool play, but the Hawks were eliminated by St. John’s Prep in the Round of 16.

Longmeadow had a 184-38 record in Rotsko’s 19 seasons as head coach. He guided Longmeadow to 15 consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

“You get a lot of work on both sides of the ball,” Rotsko said when he was asked about the value on 7-on-7 events. “This is a great opportunity to work on your pass game, work on your defense and also to look at personnel. The big thing is you don’t waste a week or two weeks in preseason having a kid playing in some position he’s not going to be able to play. It saves you a ton of time.”

Marshwood lost to Kennebunk in last year’s Western Maine Class B championship game, and is expected to be one of the top teams in Class B this year.

“We hope to be in the thick of it again,” Rotsko said.
Three New England skaters will represent Team U.S.A. at the upcoming Ivan Hlinka Tournament.

Malden Catholic forward Matt Filipe (Lynnfield, Mass.), Tabor Academy forward Erik Foley (Mansfield, Mass.) and Phillips Exeter defenseman Spenser Young (Brentwood, N.H.) made the cut.

Filipe and Foley were selected to the tournament featuring the best U-18 talent acrosse the glove, after both participated in the U.S.A. Hockey Select-17 Festival in New York.

The Hlinka Tournament will be held at sites in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in August.

Lawrence Academy's Garrison commits to BC

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
Chris Garrison and the Boston College football program had been flirting with each other for a long time before Garrison committed to BC last weekend. So long, in fact, that Frank Spaziani was BC’s head coach when the school offered Garrison a scholarship.

Garrison, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound tight end/split end who will be entering his senior year at Lawrence Academy, said he was sold on BC when he learned what kind of offense BC head coach Steve Addazio has planned for the Eagles in the near future.

“BC has been at the top of my favorites since they offered me two years ago,” Garrison, a Goffstown, N.H., resident, said. “Then a new staff came in and my big question was, ‘How are they going to use me?’

“Everyone knows they were a running team last year with a Heisman finalist (running back Andre Williams). Coach Addazio and Coach Day (offensive coordinator Ryan Day) explained to me the new vision for their offense. They’re building something new at BC. It’s more of a spread offense and they brought in a couple of dual-threat quarterbacks.

“Coach Addazio said he doesn’t like to use the example, but I’ll be playing a similar position that Aaron Hernandez did when he recruited him at Florida. They plan to use me more as a big wide receiver, but I’m sure I’ll still be doing some of the dirty work.”

Garrison, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at BC camp last week, also had scholarship offers from Maryland, Duke, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Syracuse and Wake Forest. BC was the second school to offer Garrison, after UMass.

Garrison said he felt a connection with Day, who played high school football at Manchester (N.H.) Central and then at the University of New Hampshire. Goffstown and Manchester neighbor each other.

He became the sixth in-state player from the Class of 2015 to commit to the Eagles, joining Shepherd Hill offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, Brockton lineman Aaron Monteiro, Everett defensive back Lukas Denis, St. John’s Prep tight end Jake Burt and St. John’s of Shrewsbury defensive back Davon Jones.

“After I talked to the BC coaches I spoke to my dad,” Garrison said. “I wanted to commit before next season, so I said, “Why am I waiting?’ The whole recruiting process was overwhelming at times.”

Garrison said his decision came down to Duke or BC. He was at Duke earlier this month.

“I was comfortable with Duke, but I was more comfortable with BC,” he said. “BC was where I wanted to go.”
This morning, the Gatorade Player of the Year winners were announced for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Bridgewater-Raynham catcher Joe Freiday was named the winner for Massachusetts. Here are the winners for the other five New England states:


The 6-foot-5, 242-pound junior right-handed pitcher and first baseman has led the Bulldogs to a 16-4 record and a berth in the Class L state tournament. Entering the postseason, Rossomando owned a 5-1 record and a 1.65 ERA on the mound along with a .313 batting average and 17 RBI. He had 69 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched, surrendering just 22 hits and issuing 14 walks. Rossomando was a First Team All-Conference and First Team All-State selection as a sophomore.

Rossomando has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and his school’s Unified Sports teams, for students with disabilities.

“Rossomando is a man amongst boys,” said Jeff Rago, head coach at Joel Barlow High. “He’s just at a different level than other high school pitchers.”

Rossomando will begin his senior year of high school this fall.


The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior catcher led the Hawks to a 17-1 record and a berth in the Division I state tournament, scheduled to begin May 28. A returning Second Team All-State selection as named by the Providence Journal, Martellini batted .467 with 14 extra-base hits, 25 runs scored and 41 RBI while committing just one error behind the plate through 18 games. A member of the All-Tournament Team at this past summer’s 2013 World Wood Bat Association Underclass World Championship, he started for Bishop Hendricken’s 2013 Division I state championship team as a sophomore.

Martellini has maintained a 3.14 GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a youth baseball instructor, he has volunteered on behalf of Habitat for Humanity and his school’s peer-mentoring program for students with educational and developmental disabilities.

“Gian Martellini is basically a college catcher playing high school baseball,” said Paul Murphy, head coach of rival Cumberland High. “He’s special. He’s a quiet leader and leads by example.”

Martellini has verbally committed to play baseball on an athletic scholarship at Vanderbilt University beginning in the fall of 2015.


The 6-foot, 185-pound senior left-handed pitcher and first baseman had led the Lancers to a 10-5 record at the time of his selection. Del Signore owned a 4-1 record and a 0.38 ERA through 15 games along with a .306 average and 17 RBI. He recorded 69 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched, surrendering just 16 hits and issuing 12 walks. Del Signore is a two-time First Team All-State honoree.

Del Signore has maintained a 3.53 GPA in the classroom. A student mentor in his school system, he has volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics and youth baseball camps.

“He’s got an above-average fastball, good control and a devastating curveball,” said Dan Keleher, head coach at Salem High. “He’s also a good position player who can hit the ball, and he’s an outstanding kid.”

Del Signore has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at Southern New Hampshire University this fall.


The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior right-handed pitcher and infielder owned a 3-1 record and a 1.17 ERA on the mound for the Red Storm (6-5) at the time of his selection. The state’s returning Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year, Greenberg also compiled a .519 batting average with six RBI and a .675 on-base percentage through 11 games. He was the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year and the Southern Maine Athletic Association Most Valuable Player as a junior.

Greenberg has maintained an A-minus average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of Ronald McDonald House Charities, youth baseball programs and community-cleanup initiatives. He has also raised funds to aid a school in Haiti.

“Greenberg is a great two-way player,” said Eric Fernandes, head coach at Marshwood High. “He swings a very good bat, and he’s a bulldog on the mound.”

Greenberg has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at Fordham University this fall.


The 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior right-handed pitcher and shortstop owned a 4-1 record and a 1.17 ERA for the Redhawks (10-2) at the time of his selection. Through 12 games, Supple fanned 36 batters in 24 innings pitched, surrendering just 10 hits. He also compiled a .343 batting average and drove in 17 runs. A Second Team All-Metro selection as a sophomore, he is a two-time Perfect Game Honorable Mention Underclass All-American.

Supple has maintained a 3.25 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of youth baseball programs.

“Supple is a very impressive player,” said Jim Carter, head coach at Mt. Mansfield Union. “He throws very hard, maybe in the low 90s, and he’s a good hitter. He’s got a lot of natural talent.”

Supple will begin his senior year of high school this fall.

At Hopkinton (N.H.), an unlikely overnight sensation

May, 14, 2014
May 14
At the end of last summer Hopkinton (N.H.) High School’s Jake Nelson was hoping his catching skills would earn him an opportunity to play at a mid-major Division 1 baseball program. A lot has changed since then.

For starters, Nelson began this season as Hopkinton’s No. 1 pitcher, a position he hasn’t played with any regularity since eighth grade. It’s also unlikely that he’ll play mid-major Division I baseball, since he’s now being watched closely by professional scouts and representatives from some of the top college baseball programs in the country.

Everything changed because of one pitch.

Nelson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior, attended a baseball camp at the University of Connecticut last August. He showed up as a catcher, his primary position since his freshman season at Hopkinton. He left the camp as a pitcher after creating a buzz with a fastball few people, if anybody, knew he possessed.

Here’s how it all unfolded:

After the camp’s first day, the UConn coaching staff invited any player who didn’t pitch that day to stay late and throw in the bullpen. Although he had pitched only two-thirds of an inning during his high school career, Nelson decided he would stick around and throw.

“I did it because I really had nothing else to do,” Nelson explained. “it was either that or head back to my hotel room.

“I threw one pitch and they shut me down for the night. Coach MacDonald (UConn pitching coach Josh MacDonald) said, ‘Are you sure you don’t pitch? Are you sure you don’t pitch at all?’ They told me I was going to be pitching the next day.”

Nelson, who throws right-handed, hit 91 mph on the radar gun the following afternoon. Several weeks later he was clocked at 93 mph during the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. Interest has increased since then.

Nelson has passed on scholarship offers from Boston College, Northeastern, Bryant, St. John’s and Hartford. He has offers from Duke and Georgia Tech, and is receiving interest from Vanderbilt, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia. He made an official visit to Vanderbilt last month.

Coaches from Dartmouth and Harvard clocked Nelson at 92 m.p.h. Monday, when he pitched in a 6-5 loss to Bow.

“Everything has totally come out of nowhere,” Nelson said. “My entire intention of going down to UConn was to play baseball on the last weekend of the summer. I was just hoping not to embarrass myself when I pitched (at UConn) the next day.”

There is also the possibility of a pro career at some point. Nelson, who also plays varsity basketball for Hopkinton, said he has filled out paperwork for at least half of the teams in Major League Baseball.

“(As a catcher) there were real questions about how good of a hitter he would be,” said an American League scout. “Going in that direction his options were not that great. He’s a good athlete and he’s got arm strength. He’s just learning how to pitch right now.

“He’s in a great position. (Pitching) presented opportunities that wouldn’t have been there a year ago.”

Nelson, 17, plans to attend Phillips Andover Academy in the fall, when he will reclassify to the Class of 2015. He could be taken in next month’s MLB draft, and, if he does reclassify, he’ll be eligible for next year’s draft as well.

Perfect Game, which bills itself as the world’s largest scouting service, projects that Nelson will be taken in rounds 11 through 25 in this year’s draft, and in rounds four through 10 if he’s drafted next year. Perfect Game has him ranked as the 33rd best prospect among right-handed pitchers in the Class of 2015.

“He’s still in the draft mix, but I would say (turning professional) this year is far fetched,” said Nelson’s father, Tim. “I don’t think he’ll go anywhere near high enough in the draft to change his goal of playing in college. Prep school is another year of maturity. He’ll get bigger, stronger. Plus I think he’d like to play another year of basketball.”

Nelson, who still catches when he’s not on the mound, entered this season not having pitched in a varsity game since he recorded two outs in a mop-up role as a freshman.

“He always threw the ball back to the pitchers harder than they threw it to him, but I knew his plan was to play in college as a catcher,” Hopkinton coach Dave Chase said. “I guess I had given up on the thought that he was going to pitch because I didn’t want to jeopardize his future as a catcher.

“His mechanics have gotten better, but he’s a catcher who’s pitching right now.”

Nelson has played for the New England Ruffnecks, a Massachusetts-based elite travel team, in each of the last two summers. He said he will play for the Ruffnecks this summer as well.

In addition to his blistering fastball, he’s working on a slider and a changeup.

“Getting drafted would be exciting, but right now I’m trying to figure out where the best fit for me is in terms of college,” Nelson said. “I’m in such a good spot right now. I don’t think I have any bad choices.”

USHL Draft Phase 2 local roundup

May, 6, 2014
May 6
The United State Hockey League (USHL) Draft wrapped up Tuesday morning with Phase 2.

The second day of the draft proceedings is for players not protected by other teams which are of junior hockey-eligible age.

Here's a look at the New England-based talented selected on Tuesday:

5. Anthony Wyse (Newton, Mass.), D, Boston Advantage - Lincoln
15. Ben DiMaio (Pembroke, Mass.), D, Boston Advantage - Omaha
20. John Barry (Hanover, Mass.), D, Thayer Academy - Youngstown
22. Brian Bowen (Littleton, Mass.), F, Boston Junior Bruins - Green Bay
39. Ryan Shea (Milton, Mass.), D, BC High - Milton
47. Connor Wynne (Pomona, N.Y.), D, Milton Academy - Green Bay
48. Beau Starrett (Bellingham, Mass.), F, South Shore Kings - Dubuque
61. David Cotton (Parker, Texas), C, Cushing Academy - Dubuque
69. Matt Filipe (Lynnfield, Mass.), F, Malden Catholic - Cedar Rapids
79. John Marino (North Easton, Mass.), D, South Shore Kings - Chicago
91. Patrick Kramer (Bridgewater, Mass.), C, BC High - Youngstown
98. Derek Barach (Glenmont, N.Y.), C/RW, Salisbury School - Green Bay
103. Mike Brown (Worcester, Mass.), C, Groton School - Omaha
111. Tyler Sifferlen (North Andover, Mass.), F, Malden Catholic - Chicago
116. Adam Gaudette (Braintree, Mass.), C, Thayer Academy - Cedar Rapids
138. Johnny McDermott (Darien, Conn.), LW, Westminster - Tri-City
153. J.C. Brassard (Scituate, Mass.), D, Noble & Greenough - Youngstown
177. Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury), D, Rivers School - Green Bay
187. Tyler Drevitch (Middleborough, Mass.), C, Boston Bandits - Des Moines
212. Pat Shea (Marshfield, Mass.), C, Marshfield - Sioux Falls
233. Ty Amonte (Norwell, Mass.), RW, Thayer Academy - Youngstown
234. Ryan Cloonan (East Longmeadow, Mass.), LW, Boston Junior Bruins - Tri-City
244. Will Feeney (Foxborough, Mass.), D, Dexter School - Sioux Falls
269. Josh Verentes (Rehoboth, Mass.), F, Portsmouth Abbey - Chicago
273. Dennis Cesana (Providence, R.I.), D, Kimball Union - Green Bay
279. Billy Sweezey (Hanson, Mass.), D, Noble & Greenough - Waterloo
280. Ryan Ashe (Longmeadow, Mass.), D, Avon Old Farms - Fargo
342. Matt Foley (Longmeadow, Mass.), D, Phillips Exeter/Springfield Cathedral - Omaha
343. Harrison Markell (Andover, Mass.), D, Middlesex School - Waterloo
351. Hunter Luhmann (New London, N.H.), RW, Proctor Academy - Madison

Recap: Bishop Guertin 9, No. 6 L-S 8

May, 4, 2014
May 4
NASHUA, N.H. – It was a battle fitting of two of the top teams in New England and in the end it was Bishop Guertin holding on to defeat Lincoln-Sudbury, 9-8, at Rivier University.

The Cardinals held the ball for the last four minutes to seal the win. Bishop Guertin rode its endless depth to the victory. Six different Cardinals scored, and Guertin coach Chris Cameron was liberal in his substitutions from start to finish.

Nick Prunier, Dom St. Laurent, and Charlie O'Brien each had two goals for Guertin.

“Nick Prunier, who came in off the bench, had two big ones right away,” Cameron said. “We run seven middies, two faceoff guys, three LSMs, we have five long poles who can play. We have a lot of depth down the line, and I think we needed that today.”

Lincoln-Sudbury came out of the gate rolling, jumping to a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter. Eric Holden had two of his three goals in the opening barrage. Greg Roder scored the first of his three during the run as well.

The Warriors were able to consistently move the ball in the opening period and put up more shots in that quarter (10) than in any other quarter. However, a slew of penalties allowed the Cardinals to get back in it.

“We didn't execute little things,” Lincoln-Sudbury coach Brian Vona said. “We didn't deserve to win. They're a very good team; they're best players executed some big moments and played big the whole game.”

The Cardinals flipped the script the last 11 minutes of the second quarter. Guertin utilized its substitution advantage and scored six goals to into halftime up 7-6.

St. Laurent, who scored both of Guertin's second half goals, said that once he and his team worked out the jitters they were able to get down to business.

“I think we came out a little bit timid, a little bit nervous,” St. Laurent said. “But once we pulled ourselves together the sky's the limit when we're playing our brand of lacrosse.”

The Guertin offense was aided by solid defense and even stronger goaltending. Jake Sonberg turned aside eight shots for the Cardinals including a pair in the fourth quarter that preserved the lead.

“It was definitely a new experience,” Sonberg said. “I honestly haven't been shot on by poles that well. The biggest thing for me was watching the ball the whole way and addressing the defense because they really stepped up today.”

Lincoln-Sudbury was able to reel in Guertin's attack in the second half and chip away at the lead. Roder scored a goal midway through the third and again in the fourth quarter to keep the Warriors within a goal.

“When Greg was dodging up top he was patient,” Holden said. “He didn't rush things or take too many bad shots. He waited for the third or fourth dodge; he waited for a good time to go and capitalized on his shots.”

A penalty with 1:41 left doomed Lincoln's attempts at tying the game as the Cardinals were able to salt away the win.

Guertin, who has beaten its five New Hampshire opponents 96-29, relished the challenge of playing another of the Commonwealth's best teams. The Cardinals beat Needham, 10-9, on April 22.

“I live for it,” Sonberg said. “It's no fun playing those 15-2, 18-2 games. I don't get anything out of that. This game experience is what really drives and is what I play for.”

With move up, Pembroke (N.H.) coming under fire

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
In what some are calling an attempt to have Matt Alosa removed as Pembroke Academy’s boys basketball coach, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Division I athletic directors and principals are not including Pembroke on next season’s Division I schedule.

Alosa has guided Pembroke to the last two Division II championships, but Pembroke successfully petitioned to move from Division II to Division I starting with the 2014-15 season. A group of Division I athletic directors met with Pembroke officials last month, and explained that the decision to not include Pembroke on the schedule stemmed from concerns about players transferring to Pembroke and recruiting allegations that have been directed at Alosa and the Pembroke program.

Last December the NHIAA ruled that two Pembroke players were ineligible because of “residency issues.” Both players transferred to Pembroke after the 2012-13 school year, and both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa (Matt’s father).

“In my opinion it comes down to our coach, the coach’s father, the Granite State Raiders and the people who think they’re funneling players to our program,” Pembroke headmaster Mike Reardon said. “In the meeting (last month) I said, ‘Let me ask you. Given our situation what would you do?’ I had an AD tell me: ‘You need to fire Matt Alosa.’

“Matt is not only an outstanding basketball coach, Matt has conducted himself in exemplary fashion. Could something be going on that I’m not aware of? Absolutely. But we don’t have that information. We never have. If I had anything to act on I would act on it instantaneously.”

Alosa was a standout player at Pembroke who later played at Providence College and the University of New Hampshire. He became Pembroke’s coach in 2006, and has guided the Spartans to a 49-1 record during the past two seasons.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Matt Alosa said. “I haven’t recruited anybody. I’ve done nothing but my best to help the kids of Pembroke.

“We had two players suspended and they paid their penalty. We were allowed to petition to Division I. I don’t understand how we can have an elite program and not be allowed to play (in Division I)? Because of a few false allegations? It’s unjust stuff.

“This is unprecedented, but I can tell you Pembroke isn’t going to cancel the basketball season.”

According to Pinkerton Academy athletic director Tim Powers, Pembroke was told it would be allowed to compete in Division I next season if it presented a plan that would prevent players from transferring to Pembroke for primarily basketball reasons. Pembroke came up with a plan, but the Division I athletic directors and principals deemed it unsatisfactory.

“They submitted a plan, but we still had concerns and told them we were going to move forward with the schedule without them,” Powers said. “I don’t know what their next step will be. We just want to make sure we all abide by the same rules.”

Both Powers and Reardon said a return to Division II is not an option for Pembroke. The Spartans could play out-of-state opponents, but to be eligible to compete for an NHIAA championship a team must play at least 50 percent of its games against New Hampshire opponents.

“I think the concerns are that Matt Alosa is the coach,” Reardon said. “If he’s gone we’ll probably get a (Division I) schedule. If he stays, no schedule.

“I’m not going to terminate someone’s employment based on innuendo and rumor.”

Londonderry sets eyes on return to N.H. State Final

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
Ask any New Hampshire high school baseball coach to identify the team to beat in Division I this season and you’ll likely hear the same answer: Londonderry.

The Lancers have two of the best pitchers in the state, and returned six starting position players from a team that earned the No. 1 seed for last year’s Division I tournament.

“The bullseye is on Londonderry,” Alvirne coach Mike Lee said. “They’re definitely the team to chase. Head and shoulders above the rest.”

Of course coaches were saying the same thing about Londonderry at this time last year, and the Lancers failed to win the state championship. Exeter, the No. 11 seed, upset Londonderry 3-2 in the Division I title game.

The Lancers are scheduled to begin their 2014 season April 17 at Manchester Memorial.

“In terms of how people look at us...We were the No. 1 team last year and look what happened,” Londonderry coach Brent Demas said. “I think the returning players on this team are drawing a lot of motivation from last year. The sour experience of last year is sticking with these guys and it’s driving them.”

There’s no denying the talent on Londonderry’s roster. Despite losing staff ace Ryan Moloney, who’s now making significant contributions for the University of Massachusetts baseball team, the Lancers have two senior pitchers who will give them an advantage on the mound for most games: lefthander Rob Del Signore and righty Tom Corey.

Del Signore, who will play for Southern New Hampshire University next season, was 6-0 with two saves and a 0.81 ERA last season. Corey, who is headed to Franklin Pierce, was 6-3 with one save and a 1.07 ERA.

“We lost a big arm in Ryan Moloney, but we do have two pitchers who will give you a chance to be competitive every week,” Demas said. “We’re probably a little more concerned with the offense.”

Del Signore plays first base when he’s not on the mound, and hit .384 with a team-high 21 RBI last season. The other returning starters are catcher Colby Joncas (.367), second baseman Mike Ryan (.343), third baseman Jeff Kayo (.293), center fielder Zach Tavano (.286) and right fielder Brett Evangelista (.300). Evangelista led the team with 21 stolen bases last spring.

Each of those six players is entering his third season on the varsity roster.

“We do have a lot coming back, and we played well last year,” Demas said. “Experience is the strength of the team. We also have some young kids who are showing a lot of potential and they’re learning from a great group of guys. We’re going to be really competitive.”

It should be a focused team as well. The loss to Exeter in last year’s title game -- Londonderry beat Exeter 16-0 during the regular season -- likely means the Lancers won’t look past any opponent this season.

“If anything, while it hurt at that point, it was a very teachable moment,” Demas said. “We didn’t show up to play and look what happened.

“I think these guys expect to have a lot of success, but they should know they can’t just show up and win. They have to outwork everybody.”

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

Timberlane (N.H.) snaps 81-game losing skid

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
Like a golfer whose only birdie comes on 18th hole, the highlight of the Timberlane Regional (Plaistow, N.H.) boys basketball team’s season came in its final game.

Timberlane carried an 81-game losing streak against Division I competition into Friday night’s matchup with Keene, but ended that drought by punctuating the regular season with a 71-56 victory at Keene’s Purbeck Gymnasium.

It was Timberlane’s first victory in league play since it defeated Concord 71-61 on Jan. 29, 2010.

“We didn’t talk much after the game, but there was a lot of emotion let out,” said second-year Timberlane coach Jeff Baumann. “It was a good bus ride home.

“I’m very proud of how we’ve competed all season. The team was getting better all year, that’s just a relative term.”

Senior guard Erik Nelson led Timberlane with 24 points. The Owls received 14 points from sophomore point guard Jason Hughes and 12 from junior forward Cam Donnelly. The loss left Keene (0-15) as the only winless team in Division I.

Timberlane did beat Traip Academy of Kittery, Maine, in 2011, but that victory came during a holiday tournament and did not count in the regular-season standings.

Timberlane and Keene were tied at halftime, but Timberlane took control by outscoring Keene 18-9 in third quarter. The Owls opened the quarter with a 14-2 run.

Timberlane’s streak was seven shy of the national all-time record. Mifflinburg (Penn.) Area High School ended an 88-game losing streak in 1976.

Friday night’s contest was the final Division I game for the Owls, who will drop to Division II next season.

“This is a nice way to go into the offseason,” Baumann said. “We were confident coming in that we could win this one. Getting this off our back will be beneficial moving forward.”

Berkshire's Harrison named Gatorade Soccer POTY

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Jack Harrison of Berkshire School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Harrison is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Soccer Player of the Year to be chosen from Berkshire School.

The 5-foot-10, 155-pound junior midfielder led the Bears to a 19-1-1 record and the New England Prep School Athletic Council Class A tournament championship this past season. Harrison scored nine goals and passed for 17 assists. An All-New England selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Harrison is a two-time Western New England Prep All-Star. He concluded his junior year with career totals of 26 goals and 41 assists.

Harrison has maintained a B average in the classroom. A school tour guide and ambassador, the native of England has volunteered locally as a youth soccer coach and as part of multiple community-service initiatives in association with Berkshire’s Helping Hands organization.

“Jack Harrison might not have been the most exciting player we faced this season but he was probably the most effective,” said Ozzie Parente, head coach of Taft School. “He is ridiculously talented and he stands out even on that loaded Berkshire squad. He just controls the game and distributes the ball really well. He is really the man that makes the whole operation run.”

Harrison has verbally committed to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at Wake Forest University beginning in the fall of 2015.

Connecticut - Matheus Souza, Conrad
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior forward scored 24 goals and passed for 10 assists this past season, leading the Chieftains (13-5-2) to the Class LL state tournament quarterfinals. The Connecticut Junior Soccer Association Male High School Player of the Year, Souza was a three-time Hartford Courant First Team All-Area honoree and an All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He concluded his prep soccer career with 59 goals and 26 assists.

Souza has maintained a B average in the classroom. A native of Brazil who did not speak English when he came to Conard as a freshman, he has volunteered locally with Lead By Example, a teen-led campaign to promote healthy decision-making. He has also donated his time as a lifeguard and as a child-care provider at his church.

“Matheus Souza is always a marked man and still manages to take over games,” said Matt Denecour, head coach of New Britain High. “He scores at will and moves on and off the ball well. He combines speed, strength and especially skill and essentially carried his team offensively.”

Souza has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at the University of Connecticut this fall.

Rhode Island - Komla Dogbey, Hope
The 6-foot-2 senior forward scored 21 goals and passed for 12 assists this past season, leading the Blue Wave (6-9-1) to the Division I state tournament. An All-New England selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Dogbey was a Providence Journal First Team All-State honoree and a member of the Rhode Island Soccer Coaches Association’s Mike Dynon Academic All-State Team. He concluded his two-year prep soccer career with 36 goals and 23 assists.

Dogbey has maintained an A average in the classroom. A native of Togo, he has worked as a tutor for refugees in Providence and volunteered locally as part of multiple community-service initiatives in association with his church youth group.

“Komla is a very fast and strong player,” said Joao Santos, head coach of Central High. “His physical strength and speed are his best weapons. Although he doesn’t possess a lot of technical skill, he was able to score many goals because of his superior speed and size.”

Dogbey remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

Maine - Wyatt Omsberg, Scarborough
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound senior midfielder scored 19 goals and passed for 12 assists this past season, leading the Red Storm (17-1) to the Class A state championship. An All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Omsberg was also chosen as the Class A Player of the Year and the Portland Press Herald Player of the Year.

Omsberg has maintained an A average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of a homeless shelter, Meals on Wheels and youth soccer programs.

“Omsberg is the real thing,” said Rocco Frenzilli, head coach at Portland High. “He’s long, quick, knowledgeable. He’s very technically sound and he really sees the field. He makes everyone else better.”

Omsberg will attend Dartmouth College this fall, where he will play soccer.

New Hampshire - Daniel Hazlett, Hanover
The 5-foot-7, 155-pound senior forward scored 16 goals and passed for seven assists this past season, leading the Marauders (19-0-1) to the Division 1 state championship. An All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Hazlett was also named First Team All-State.

Hazlett has maintained a 3.41 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of the CROP Hunger Walk and youth soccer programs.

“Hazlett is very difficult to defend,” said Scott Dunlop, head coach at Concord High. “He has great speed on the ball and his first touch is outstanding. It takes a collective team effort to contain him.”

Hazlett will attend Dartmouth College this fall, where he will play soccer.

Vermont - Zack Evans, Champlain Valley Union
The 5-foot-11 senior defender led the Redhawks (16-2) to the Division 1 state final this past year. An All-New England selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, Evans anchored a defense that allowed just seven goals and notched 13 shutouts. He scored three goals and passed for three assists, and was a two-time Burlington Free Press First Team All-State selection. Evans has maintained a 3.68 GPA in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society and his school’s Athletic Leadership Council, he has served as a peer mentor and has volunteered locally on behalf of youth sports camps.

“Evans reads the game very, very well from the back,” said Scott Mosher, head coach at Essex High. “He’s strong defensively, but he can also be productive in transition. As soon as he wins the ball, your team is under pressure.”

Evans has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on scholarship at the University of Vermont this fall.

Recap: No. 3 AC 2, Bishop Guertin (N.H.) 1

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
ARLINGTON, Mass. -- Arlington Catholic may have skated away from Monday afternoon's non-conference hockey tilt with a feeling it deserved better.

For the record, the Cougars held off Bishop Guertin, 2-1, inside Ed Burns Arena, but for their effort, the belief here was this one should not have been that close.

But in the game of hockey, even if you are dominating your opponent, a win is still a win no matter how you attain it. The No. 3 Cougars will take it and move on.

"Hey, a win is still a win right?" said Cougars longtime coach Dan Shine, who picked up career victory No. 499 with a chance for 500 when AC hosts Austin Prep Saturday night. "We'll take the win."

The Cougars controlled the offensive end for much of the 45 minutes, putting up 38 shots, including 19 in the second period. Had it not been for the brilliant performance by Cardinals goaltender Griffin Scanlon, it's anyone's guess what the finally tally could have been.

"I thought their goalie played real well and I thought they did a good job closing up gaps in the middle of the rink," Shine said. "We did have a lot of nice clean shots that were blocked by their defensemen. That's just good defensive play by our opponent because I felt we did a lot of things right. We've been harping on our kids to move the puck, get in space and create opportunities. At times today we were doing that but again, it goes back to their goalie playing very well for them."

The Cougars, which suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday against St. Mary's of Lynn, improve to 8-1-1. BG, whose roster is made up primarily of underclassmen, drop to 2-8-1.

Throughout the season, the Cardinals have found life difficult once they have the puck inside an opponent's defensive zone. Scoring goals has been a premium. However, against AC, the offense was able to strike first.

Just 1:39 in, and with his team already on the power play, sophomore winger Mike Barrett pushed back a rebound from the right point to give BG the early 1-0 lead.

It lasted for approximately three minutes. The Cougars defensemen had been doing an admirable job moving the puck around the perimeter just inside the blue line and hardly receiving any pressure from the Cardinals. While all this was going on, the AC forwards and center were switching in an out in front of the crease in an attempt to screen Scanlon on a long shot or re-direct anything coming from outside. The latter of two came into play after junior Ivan Mikhaylov deflected a shot in front that sailed over Scanlon and into the net, knotting things at 1-1.

Following the first intermission, AC took its game up a notch. Perhaps not happy with their play over the opening 15 minutes, the Cougars picked up their speed and skill strengths. Passes had become much tighter and more direct, and their ability in handling the puck across the neutral zone and along the half walls was more precise. Throughout the period, the Cardinals found themselves often chasing any Cougar with the puck on his stick or getting caught out of position.

It took AC all but 1:10 into the frame to take the lead. After two hard shots were stopped by Scanlon in succession, the goalie was unable the corral the second attempt. The puck slid out to the front of the net where sophomore Andrew Somerville was standing all alone. The forward flipped it into the net.

"We're just looking to capitalize on any chances that we can get," Somerville said. "We try to work the puck deep and play our game. Ugly wins like this do happen but we still got the win. We do need to start coming out better to begin games. It seems in the first period we come out a little slow and then we tend to catch up later on. It's been working for us so far but that's not always going to be the case so we need to focus on coming out to start games on a better edge."

AC was resourceful throughout the second period, attacking Scanlon virtually on every shift down ice. Scanlon, however, proved his worth. After giving up Somerville's marker, he never flinched and stoned the Cougars the rest of the way in keeping his team in this contest.

"Griffin played really well for us," said Gary Bishop, now in his 22nd year with the Nashua, N.H. based school. "He's been a very good goaltender for us in all of his four years here. He doesn't panic and made some great stops today. This could've been a 4-1 game at the end of the second period. We're happy with our goaltending. We just need to find ways of getting the puck into the back of the net. We've been struggling all year long to convert. We don't get plenty of chances but we do get some chances. We just haven't been able to finish. We're not bearing down around the net."

The Cardinals put up a much-better effort in the third period. At both ends of the ice, they were matching the Cougars stride-for-stride. On two occasions, they had solid opportunities to notch the equalizer.

However, AC senior netminder John Richard (17 saves) came up a pair of big stops when he needed to help keep the Cougars in front for good.

Trinity, Central ready for Sunday matinee clash

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
For New Hampshire sports fans, it’ll serve as an appetizer before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Manchester Central and Trinity of Manchester, widely considered to be the two best high school boys basketball teams the Granite State has to offer, will clash Sunday (1 p.m.) at Trinity’s McHugh Gym. Each team is 5-0, and the winner will have sole possession of first place in the Division I standings.

“It’s nice to be 5-0, but we have a lot of work to do,” said Trinity coach Dave Keefe, who guided the Pioneers to last year’s Division I championship. “We’re still a work in progress.

“I know a lot of people are saying it’s going to be a Central-Trinity final, but I don’t prepare my kids like that. Our goal is to finish in the top four. Central has five kids who can hurt you, not one, two or three like most teams.”

The regular-season matchup between Trinity and Central was originally scheduled for Dec. 17, but the contest was postponed by bad weather. The game began the following night, but was suspended because moisture on the floor at Trinity made playing conditions unsafe.

The game will resume today with the score tied, 13-13, and 2:13 remaining in the first quarter.

Trinity has a clear size advantage. Central will have to contend with Wenyin Gabriel, a 6-foot-7 center; and Carmen Giampetruzzi, a 6-foot-4 forward. Giampetruzzi is headed to Boston College to play baseball.

“Their size is absolutely a concern,” Central coach Doc Wheeler said. “We’re physically smaller than our opponents in most of our games. Slowing down Carmen will be a big deal.

“We share the ball real well and we work real hard, but to be honest we have a lot of things to clean up. That (tournament) game showed both teams what we have to work on. We both have an idea how to do it better.”

The teams also met in the semifinals of the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament in December. Central received a career-high 38 points from junior guard Brett Hanson and posted a 66-55 victory that night, but the non-league game does not count in the Division I standings.

Keefe called today’s matchup between city rivals the kind of game the players will be talking about when they grow old.

“These are special games,” he said. “It should be fun for the kids.”

COURT CONTROVERSY: Pembroke Academy is appealing the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s ruling that made two of the school’s boys basketball players ineligible for the 2013-14 season.

Rob Wilson, a 6-foot-7 junior, and Adam Presutti, a 6-foot-8 senior, both transferred to Pembroke before the start of the current school year and were practicing with the team until the NHIAA announced its decision in December. The ruling came before Pembroke’s first game.

Wilson played at Londonderry High School last season, and Presutti spent last season at Merrimack Valley in Penacook.

Pat Corbin, the NHIAA’s executive director, said each player violated the NHIAA by-laws regarding transfers.

The NHIAA handbook states that students are not allowed to transfer schools for primarily athletic purposes. If it is deemed that a player does transfer for athletic purposes, the player will be ineligible for 365 days.

“In my judgement there were other issues that did not make either of these an appropriate move,” Corbin said. “I can’t get into specifics because there are now attorneys representing both young men.”

Corbin’s ruling was upheld by an NHIAA eligibility committee, a group that includes principals, athletic directors and coaches from high schools throughout New Hampshire.

“The final level of due process is our appeals board,” Corbin explained. “We’re trying to put something together for next week.”

The controversy stems from the fact that Wilson and Presutti both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa. Former Providence College and University of New Hampshire guard Matt Alosa, Frank’s son, is Pembroke’s head coach, and an assistant coach with the Granite State Raiders. Both have heard accusations that they steer their AAU players to Pembroke, but have denied the accusations.

“My dad does coach the older kids in the (AAU) program and I’m in the gym when I can get there to help out,” Matt Alosa said. “It’s not our practice to get kids to move. Whether it’s high school or AAU, I’m here to help the kids get better.”

According to Pembroke Academy headmaster Mike Reardon, both Wilson and Presutti live in the Pembroke Academy school district.

“We’re a school, not an investigative unit, but our process convinced us that both boys are here legitimately,” Reardon said. “They’re not here (just) to play basketball, although basketball is part of their identity.

“Obviously we’re hoping both boys can play this year. That’s why we’re doing this.”

BREAKING BAD: The Timberlane of Plaistow boys basketball program had its losing streak reach 70 games with Friday night’s 58-39 loss to Manchester West.

The West program had lost 22 of its previous 23 Division I games. Its only victory during that span came against Timberlane.


Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.

NMH's Hussein named Gatorde XC Runner of Year

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Mohamed Hussein of Northfield Mount Hermon School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. Hussein is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Northfield Mount Hermon School.

The 5-foot-6, 130-pound senior raced the New England Preparatory School Track Association Division I individual championship this past season with a time of 16:06. A First Team All-NEPSTA selection, Hussein earned 14th place at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships, crossing the line in 16:01.1.

Hussein has maintained a 3.67 GPA in the classroom. A member of his school’s Debate Team, Business Club and Model Senate, he has volunteered locally on behalf of a food bank and as a peer tutor.

“Mohamed Hussein has quickly become a leader in our school as well as a top runner,” said Northfield Mount Hermon head coach Grant Gonzalez. “He is sincerely beloved by his peers and is one of the kindest, most caring students I have had the privilege of knowing in my career.”

Hussein will attend Amherst College this fall, where he will compete in cross country and track and field.

Hussein joins Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Cross Country Runners of the Year Jonathan Green (2012-13, St. John's High School), Wesley Gallagher (2011-12, Pembroke High School), John Murray (2010-11, Shrewsbury High School), Patrick McGowan (2009-10, Mansfield), Mike Moverman (2008-09, Oliver Ames), and Robert Gibson (2007-08, Brookline) as athletes who have won the cross country award since its inception in 2007.

Here are the winners for the five other New England states:


The 5-foot-6, 115-pound junior raced to the Class L state championship this past season with a time of 15:34, leading the Blue Wave to the state title as a team. Ostberg finished third at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championships and took 11th nationally at the NXN Final, in 15:31. He also won the Bethel Invitational, finished second at the New England Cross Country Championships and was third at the State Open championships.

Ostberg has maintained a 4.01 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally as an emergency medical technician.

“This was the first year that Alex was actually healthy for championship season,” said Darien coach Tyson Kaczmarek. “He’s one of the most dedicated and hard-working athletes I have ever coached. He does all the extra things a runner can do to be their best.”

Ostberg will begin his senior year of high school this fall.


The 6-foot senior distance runner raced to the state’s open individual championship with a time of 15:49.01 this past season, leading the Hawks to a sixth consecutive state title as a team. A two-time First Team All-State selection as named by the Providence Journal and Rhode Island Track Coaches Association, Tierney also won the Class A championships in 15:32.24. He captured fifth place at the New England Cross Country Championships in 15:17.10, and then took 11th at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championships in 16:01.8.

Tierney has maintained a 3.15 GPA in the classroom. A member of his school’s peer ministry and mentoring initiatives, he volunteered on behalf of his church’s youth group, The One Fund, the Special Olympics and the Making a Difference Foundation. He has also traveled on six service-mission trips along the Eastern seaboard.

“Colin continues to impress me every day with his intense work ethic and never-quit attitude in every race,” said Bishop Hendricken head coach Jim Doyle. “I have never seen an athlete with his incredible determination and ability to accomplish his goals. He is a standout athlete who also is a student, a gentlemen and a friend to his teammates and competitors. He has amazing potential for greatness and he has the talent, attitude, will and work ethic to make good things happen in his college running career.”

Tierney remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.


The 5-foot-11 senior distance runner raced to a second consecutive Meet of Champions individual title with a time of 15:50 this past season, leading the Bears to third place as a team. The state’s returning Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, Brassard also won a second straight Division II individual championship in 15:51. The two-time Runner of the Year as named by the Union Leader, Concord Monitor, Foster’s Daily Democrat and New Hampshire Cross Country Coaches Association, Brassard captured 10th place at the New England Cross Country Championships in 15:48.10. He took 22nd at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championships in 16:18.7.

Brassard has maintained a B average in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as part of food drives for the needy and community cleanup efforts, he has volunteered locally on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America, the Special Olympics, Court Appointed Special Advocates and The Way Home, an affordable housing non-profit.

“Beyond the obvious data that shows him being New Hampshire’s top boys’ runner, he’s an example of sportsmanship and positive character,” said Dave Irving, head coach of rival Merrimack Valley High. “Jeremy has shown nothing but the utmost respect for all athletes I’ve seen him interact with. Any desire to win is immediately set aside upon crossing the finish line, and he’s often congratulating finishers from second to 100th place. He is absolutely the kind of runner I would love to coach on my own team.”

Brassard has verbally committed to an athletic scholarship at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois beginning this fall.


The 6-foot-1 senior distance runner raced to the Class C individual state championship with a time of 17:00.87 this past season. Also the Runner of the Year as named by the Portland Press Herald, Holt-Andrews took third place at the New England Cross Country Championships in 15:12.90. He placed fifth at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships in 15:36.8, and then captured All-American honors with a 10th-place finish at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 15:30.

Holt-Andrews has maintained an A-minus average in the classroom. He has donated his time as a peer tutor and youth running instructor.

“I’ve watched his confidence and personal growth really take off over the past four years,” said Nick Scott, head coach of rival Boothbay Region High. “He has always been a very talented runner, but even amid his success appeared hungry for more. Each of his four years, he has steadily increased his athletic abilities and capped off his senior cross-country season in an absolutely tremendous way. As an opposing coach, I have the highest respect for Josef.”

Holt-Andrews remain undecided upon a collegiate destination.


The 5-foot-7, 125-pound junior raced to the Division 2 individual state championship this past season with a time of 16:34.8, leading the Highlanders to the state title as a team. Nishi also won the NVAC Championships, the Burlington Invitational and the Jim Smith Invitational. He was the top Vermont finisher at the New England Cross Country Championships, 19th overall, and at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships, 31st overall.

Nishi has maintained a 4.13 GPA in the classroom. Also a standout Nordic skier, Nishi has volunteered locally on behalf of a food pantry and youth running programs.

“Sam has a unique ability to peak at the most opportune time,” said Harwood coach John Kerrigan. “His best races occur during the most important events.”

Nishi will begin his senior year of high school this fall.

Londonderry (N.H.) boys hoop off to surprise start

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
Take a look at New Hampshire’s Division I boys basketball standings, and you’ll see all the expected names at the top.

Trinity of Manchester, last year’s Division I champion, is alone in first place with a 4-0 record. Bishop Guertin of Nashua, last year’s runner-up, and Nashua South, a semifinalist a year ago, are both 3-0. Manchester Central, which beat Trinity in the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament, is 2-0; so is Merrimack, which has the reigning Division I Player of the Year in senior guard Eric Gendron.

The only other unbeaten team? Londonderry, a school known more for football, baseball and its marching band than its boys basketball program. The Lancers have never won a state title in boys basketball or even reached a championship game, but they have a chance to improve their record to 4-0 when they play at Spaulding of Rochester tonight.

Londonderry has a first-year head coach in Nate Stanton, who was an assistant at Salem each of the last two seasons. The Lancers also have a handful of above-average marksmen.

The Lancers have made 26 3-pointers in their three victories, which has Stanton a bit concerned.

“That’s our problem,” Stanton said. “I want to attack the basket. We rely way too much on the 3 and it gets us in trouble.

“Our biggest thing is defense and full-court pressure, and the kids are buying in.”

In addition to its three Division I victories, Londonderry went 2-1 in the Greater Lowell Holiday Basketball Tournament. The team’s loss came against Chelmsford, which went on to win the tournament.

There’s no one go-to guy on Londonderry’s roster. Instead, the Lancers have a bunch of guard-forward types who can all score when called upon.

Freshman guard Jake Coleman scored a team-high 16 points (four 3-pointers) when Londonderry opened its season with a 74-52 victory over Manchester Memorial; junior Marc Corey tossed in a game-high 23 (four 3-pointers) during Londonderry’s 64-63 victory over Winnacunnet of Hampton; and senior Drew Coveney scored a game-high 18 (four 3-pointers) when Londonderry beat West 66-34.

Coveney, who didn’t play last season because of a knee injury, made 27 three-pointers as a sophomore.

“They’re all interchangeable,” Winnacunnet coach Jay McKenna said. “All shoot. All handle. All do a lot of really nice things.”

“We do have some good shooters,” Stanton added. “Every night anybody can step up. We need to play unselfish because we have multiple guys who can put in 20. We’re good, but we still have more to work on.”

Here’s another encouraging sign if you’re a Londonderry fan: Each of the team’s three victories have come on the road. Tougher tests await, however. Stanton will likely find out much more about his team when the Lancers play back-to-back games against Bishop Guertin and Central later this month.

“They shot the ball very well against us,” Memorial coach Jack Quirk said. “If they continue to shoot the ball like that they’re going to win a ton of games.”

Roger Brown covers New Hampshire High School Sports for ESPN Boston. Follow him on Twitter: @603SportsMedia.