Boston High School: Meghan Green

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 4, 2013
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Shelby Herrington won her battle with the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association.

New HampshireHerrington, a junior, has played for the Bishop Brady (Concord) boys hockey team for the past two seasons, but the NHIAA ruled that Herrington could no longer skate for the boys team when Bishop Brady formed a cooperative girls team with Trinity High School of Manchester this year.

NHIAA bylaws state: “Interscholastic athletics involving mixed [boys and girls] competition is prohibited except in those instances where the member school does not offer equivalent activities for girls.”

Herrington has been centering Bishop Brady's second line.

Herrington's parents filed a suit against the NHIAA, and on Dec. 19 Merrimack County Superior Court judge Richard McNamara ruled that Herrington could continue to play for the boys team.

At issue is whether or not boys and girls hockey are considered “equivalent activities.” The Bishop Brady girls team doesn't practice as often as the boys team, and the girls team also has many players from Trinity, a school located 20 miles away. The boys teams has no players who do not attend Bishop Brady.

McNamara wrote: “This finding, though, does not lend any support to the [NHIAA's Council Appeal] Board's conclusion that the two teams provide 'equivalent activities' for each gender but, rather, lends support to the opposite conclusion.”

NHIAA executive director Pat Corbin expressed concern with the judge's decision, and the effect it night have on other NHIAA sports. He said the ruling could allow a boy cut from his team to play for a girls team.

“A concern is if this becomes a precedent for all other sports,” Corbin told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “All those things come to light.”

MERRIMACK'S BATTISTA RESIGNS
Joe Battista's five-year tenure as Merrimack High School's head coach ended Dec. 17, when he submitted his letter of resignation. The Tomahawks have a 15-40 record over the last five seasons.

“I feel I gave Merrimack everything I had,” Battista said. “A lot of kids gave me a lot. I just couldn't turn the program into a consistent winner.

“I started thinking about it [resigning] toward the end of the season. I thought it would be best to see what else is out there for me. I'm energized and motivated. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next. I will be coaching somewhere next year.”

The highlight of Battista's five years with the program came in 2010, when the Tomahawks finished 7-4 and were one victory shy of making the Division II playoffs. Merrimack will compete in Division I next season, when NHIAA football will shrink from six divisions to three.

Merrrimack was 0-11 last season, a season that ended with a 41-14 loss to Souhegan on Thanksgiving. Battista, 42, wasn't on the Merrimack sideline on Thanksgiving for reasons that are still unclear.

“No comment on that,” Battista said. “I left Merrimack on good terms. There are no bitter feelings.”

KERSHAW AMED SHRINE COACH
There was talk that the Mascenic Regional (New Ipswich) football program might fold because of low participation numbers when Ray Kershaw became the team's head coach. Three years later Kershaw had the Vikings in the Division VI championship game.

Kershaw, a 46-year-old Springfield resident, was rewarded for his team's 2012 season by being named New Hampshire's head coach for this summer's Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. New Hampshire will face Vermont on Aug. 3 at Dartmouth College.

“It was very exciting for me when I found out I'd be New Hampshire's coach,” Kershaw said. “It's a great honor because of what the game is all about.”

Proceeds from the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl benefit Shriners' Hospitals for Crippled and Burned Children.

Both teams will being practicing for this year's game on Aug. 27.

MASCENIC ENDS LOSING STREAK
When the 2012-13 girls basketball season began no player on the Mascenic Regional girls basketball team had won a varsity game.

That changed when Mascenic beat Hillsboro-Deering 41-34 on Dec. 14. The victory ended the program's 94-game losing streak that began in the 2006-07 season. Mascenic has had five head coaches in the last six years.

Sarah Sharp scored a team-high 11 points in the win.

SHERBURNE SELECTS NIAGARA
Jamie Sherburne, a junior on the Bishop Guertin girls' basketball team, recently committed to play college basketball at Niagara University, a Division I program that competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

She is the second BG player who has committed to a Division I school. Meghan Green announced last July that she will continue her career at Boston University.

Sherburne and Green helped BG win the program's first state championship last March.

Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and publishes the New Hampshire Football Report: www.nhfootballreport.com.

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

December, 14, 2012
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The high school ice hockey season arrived last week, and with it came controversy.

New HampshireThe issue that created headlines involved Shelby Herrington, a junior at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. Herrington has played varsity hockey for Bishop Brady's boys team the last two years, and intended to do so this season as well. Bishop Brady formed a cooperative girls hockey team with Trinity High School in Manchester this year, however, and the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association declared Herrington ineligible to play for the boys team.

Herrington challenged that decision and a court order allowed her to begin the season with the boys team. A final ruling on whether or not the NHIAA is within its rights to prevent Herrington from playing with the boys team is expected later this month.

Robert Carey, Herrington's attorney, has argued that the NHIAA is attempting to deny Herrington a spot on the boys team solely on the basis of her sex.

If the court rules in Herrington's favor there is concern that other talented girls will attempt to play for boys teams – thereby weakening the girls sport -- and that some boys may even attempt to skate with the girls.

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, NHIAA executive director Patrick Corbin sent a letter to Bishop Brady that included the following:

“If a sport is offered for boys and a comparable sports is offered for girls, then the girls must play on the team of their gender. There is no consideration or provision that accounts for competitiveness or ability in the by-laws.”

Another female, Danielle DiCesare, played for the St. Thomas Aquinas (Dover) boys team in 2007-08, the first season the NHIAA offered girls hockey as a varsity sport. DiCesare women's college hockey at Princeton.

FOOTBALL CHANGES SHAPE
New Hampshire high school football will have a different look next season, when the state will scrap the six-division format that has been used for years and place its 57 varsity teams in three divisions.

Eight teams from each division will qualify for postseason play, which will create an additional round of playoffs. Four teams from each of the six divisions advanced to the playoffs last season.

Critics of the old alignment argued that there was no need for six divisions – and six state champions – in a state the size of New Hampshire.

“We already have teams that are not very happy with it, but we have to give something a shot here,” said Plymouth coach Chuck Lenahan, who is a member of the NHIAA football committee. “Hopefully it works out well. We have a lot more flexibility with it. Maybe we'll have to tweak it a little, but I think it's good that we're trying something.”

Student-athletes transferring from one school to another is not uncommon, but in no sport has player movement been the major focus of a season preview as it is in high school basketball.

HAWK TALK
Guard Dimitri Floras returned from prep school (Kimball Union Academy) to lead Merrimack to the Division I boys basketball championship last season. If the Tomahawks win another title in 2012-13 they'll have to do it without Floras, who is now suiting up for Vermont Academy.

Although Manchester Central is the consensus favorite in Division I, Merrimack's backcourt will make life tough on Merrimack opponents. Sophomore point guard Austin Franzen has transferred from Bishop Guertin and will team with junior Eric Gendron to form one of the best guard combinations in the state.

ANOTHER TITLE IN THE CARDS?
Bishop Guertin of Nashua won last year's Division I girls basketball state title, and the Cardinals entered this season as the overwhelming favorite as well.

BG returned five starters from its 2011-12 championship team, including junior point guard Jamie Afterburner and Boston University-bound forward Meghan Green.

BG opened its season with a 91-36 victory over Salem. Last year's championship was the school's first in girls basketball.

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

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
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Pinkerton Academy's greatest strength this winter can be summed up in two words: potting pucks.

New HampshireYet a defensive play in the closing minutes of the Division I boys' hockey final helped the preseason-favorite club from Derry hold on for a nail-biting 3-2 win.

“The crowd was so loud, it was (about) settling them down (during a time out),” Pinkerton coach Casey Kesselring said. “I said, 'Hey, we're up one. We're in the driver's seat. All we need to do is play a solid 5 minutes and bring it home.”

Ryan Hall – in front of an estimated 3,000 fans – made the stop that cemented the victory March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The senior defenseman disrupted a golden chance for Manchester Memorial High to pull even with a furious third-period comeback. Brady Bilodeau on a mini-breakout charged toward netminder Matt Marchman with three minutes, 25 seconds left in regulation.

Hall, trailing the play, stretched and poke the puck away. Bilodeau never had the chance to launch the potential game-tying bid.

“That was big. He's going in to tie it. Ryan gets all puck,” Kesselring said. “He probably would tell you, honestly, that he got caught out of position a bit. But he made up for it. That was the main thing.”

The top-seeded Astros (19-2-0 Div. I) controlled play for the majority of the contest. They built a commanding three-goal lead with markers from J.D. Dudek (first period), Zach Sanford (second period) and Dominic Corsetto (third period).

But, as the clock dipped below the 7-minute mark, the second-seeded Crusaders (16-5-0 Div. I) erupted for two goals in a 25-second span.

“We got down three goals. We talked to the kids,” Memorial coach Mark Putney said. “There was no quit in this team.”

Colin Williamson one-timed Bilodeau's back-door feed. Jacob Boylan, on the next shift, lofted a backhand shot from the slot.

The comeback was on. Memorial – seeking its first hockey title since 1995 – was within striking distance with 6-plus minutes to play.

Then, the bid to tie emerged. Memorial's senior captain, the club's heart-and-soul leader, had the puck on his stick with the game up for grabs.

But he never pulled the trigger. Hall didn't allow it.

“We definitely put on the pressure,” Bilodeau said. “We fought hard. They played a great game defensively, even offensively. Great coaching. You really can't say anything bad about them.”

Division II – Sophomore goaltender Stevan Tempesta made 26 championship-game saves, the last 11 stops nothing short of sensational. Top-seeded Bedford High, also on the strength of Kurt Mitchell and Jason Campbell goals, dethroned defending champion and 3-seed Dover High, 2-1.

Bedford (17-3-0 Div. II), as a result, skated to its first hockey crown March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena. Dover, unable to bury the equalizer in the final minute, finished 14-6-0 in league action.

Tempesta turned back multiple game-tying bids with the state title at stake. Dover's odd-man rush generated a golden chance. A scrum for the puck in heavy traffic also gave the Green Wave hope.

“You hold on for that final 10 seconds and it's the longest 10 seconds in your life. I just didn't want to blow it,” Tempesta told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “That was probably my best game all season.”

Division III – Kennett High of Conway claimed its third championship, each of them won during an unprecedented run of league dominance. The top-seeded Eagles, appearing in a league-record fifth straight final, edged No. 2 seed Alvirne High of Hudson, 4-3, in overtime.

Anthony LaRusso locked up the win. The junior forward buried a feed to the back door with 26.3 seconds remaining in the extra session March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena.

The goal was LaRusso's second of the contest. Kennett capped its campaign at 20-1-0 overall (19-1-0 Div. III) and secured hardware to go with the 2009 and 2010 NHIAA plaques.

Alvirne, playing for its first hockey championship, finished with an 18-2-0 league record.

Division I (girls) – The first line of Maddie Dewhirst, and twin sisters Madison and Tessa Hill all closed their careers as 100-point scorers.

The senior trio also factored in all five goals of the final, fueling second-seeded Hanover High's 5-1 championship win over Upper Valley rival and top seed Lebanon High March 10 at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Hanover (16-2-0 Div. I) celebrated its third consecutive championship, and fourth No. 1 finish in the five years of NHIAA girls' hockey. Lebanon ended its season 16-2-0 in league play.

Madison Hill struck for a title-game hat trick. Dewhirst delivered two goals and two assists. Tessa Hill tallied five assists.

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New England Roundup: New Hampshire

January, 19, 2012
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Draining the game-winning shot is a dream shared by most, if not all, hoop junkies.

New HampshireNow add this element to the drama: Knocking down the 3-pointer that serves as the knockout punch to your former team.

Manchester Central High's Dawson Dickson didn't just dream such a scenario. He lived it Jan. 10. The sophomore point guard's trey earned the Little Green a 41-40 Division I boys' basketball road win over fierce Queen City rival Trinity High.

“I've wanted to hit a game-winning shot my whole life,” said Dickson, who transferred from Trinity, this year's championship favorite, after his freshman year. “I didn't even think about the situation. I was open, so I shot it.”

Reacting rather than thinking served the sophomore well. McHugh Gym – one of the smaller, yet most electric hoop venues in the state – was packed.

“It was my old school and bragging rights were on the line,” Dickson said.

It was hot. It was loud. And, hardly surprising, the home team's unforgiving student section didn't give Dickson a break for four quarters.

On the court, the game was tied at 38-apiece inside the final minute. Dickson, a year removed from shooting countless jumpers on Trinity's home court, hadn't attempted a single 3-point shot.

Until, that is, a defensive breakdown left him open beyond the arc.

Muscle memory – and a go-for-the-jugular mindset – kicked in. Dickson lofted the 3-ball with 52 seconds to play.

Dagger.

Central's one-possession lead, however, was trimmed to a point. The Pioneers also had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but couldn't convert the critical field goal.

Dickson's former team was saddled with its first league loss of the season.

As for the underclassman, hardly overwhelmed with the game in the balance, what was he feeling once the score went final?

“Relief,” Dickson said. “The Trinity kids were on me the whole game.”

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