Boston High School: Stoneham

Top MIAA hoop performances: March 1

March, 2, 2014
Each and every night throughout the MIAA basketball playoff season, we will highlight the state's top performances. Here are my top performances from Saturday's slate of MIAA basketball state tournament play.

As a reminder, readers are encouraged to submit their top performances via email ( or tweeting at ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall (@BHallESPN). Deadline for all submissions each night is midnight.

1. Meghan Foley, Soph. G, Mystic Valley
Registered 33 points and 12 rebounds in a 68-61 win over Maimonides in a D4 North quarterfinal. Twenty-three of her 33 came in the second half as Mystic Valley overcame an eight-point second half deficit. Playing all 32 minutes, she only committed two turnovers.

2. Matt Weso, Jr. C, Arlington Catholic
Nearly had a 20-20 night for the Cougars in their 70-50 win over Swampscott in D3 North, registering 19 points and 20 rebounds.

3. Amy Assad, Jr. F, Millis
Totaled 21 points and 14 rebounds in the Mohawks' 50-35 upset of Greater Lowell in D4 Central.

4. Colleen Corcoran, Soph. F, Bishop Fenwick
Registered 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Shamrocks' 49-35 win over cross-town rival Attleboro in D1 South.

5. Shaquan Murray, Sr. G, New Mission
Filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, eight rebounds and six steals in the Titans' win over Burlington in D2 North.

6. Erin Antosh, Fr. F, North Middlesex
Catalyzed the Patriots with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Patriots' 52-38 win over Taconic in D2 West.

7. Diondra Woumn, Sr. G, Lynn English
Registered her 1,000th point, part of a 15-point effort, in the Bulldogs' easy defeat of Billerica in D1 North.

8. Sue Rose, Sr. G, Hamilton-Wenham
Racked up 10 assists, to go along with 15 points, in the Generals' win over Dracut in D2 North.

9. Devon Chase, Fr. F, Stoneham
Came off the bench to spark the Spartans with 12 points and 14 rebounds in a D3 North quarterfinal win over Greater Lawrence.

Maura Buckley, Sr. F, Arlington Catholic
Scored her 1,000th point, part of a 17-point outburst, in the Cougars' D2 North win over Pentucket.

Top MIAA hoop performances: Feb. 27

February, 28, 2014
Each and every night throughout the MIAA basketball playoff season, we will highlight the state's top performances. Here are my top performances from Thursday night's slate of MIAA basketball state tournament play.

As a reminder, readers are encouraged to submit their top performances via email ( or tweeting at ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall (@BHallESPN). Deadline for all submissions each night is midnight.

1. Alyssa Guyon, Jr. F, Ludlow
Monster night on the boards for Guyon, as she recorded 26 points and 21 rebounds in the Lions' 58-47 D2 West win over Quabbin.

2. Bridget Herlihy, Jr. F, and Brianna Herlihy, Soph. F, Braintree
The sisters combined for 29 points and 26 rebounds in the Wamps' 58-39 Division 1 South quarterfinal win over King Philip.

3. Tom Nadeau, Sr. G, Stoneham
Scored 26 points and added six assists in the Spartans' D3 North win over North Reading.

4. Kendra Hicks, Sr. F, Springfield Central
Notched a double-double in the Golden Eagles' D1 West win over Shepherd Hill, recording 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.

5. Lauren Carnevale, Sr. F, Pittsfield
Had a double-double in the Generals' 57-42 D2 West win over Belchertown, recording 18 points and 15 rebounds.

6. Chris Lockett, Jr. F, St. Mary's (Lynn)
Had 24 points in the Spartans' 70-48 rout of Maimonides in D4 North.

7. Steve McGrath, Sr. F, Stoneham
Along with 23 points, had eight rebounds, six steals and three blocks in the Spartans' win over North Reading

8. Joey Crane, Sr. F, Cardinal Spellman
Recorded a double-double in the Cardinals' rout of Dedham in D3 South, with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

9. Karlie O'Driscoll, Sr. F, Sharon
Came up with 15 pts, nine rebounds and 8 steals in the Eagles' 52-50 thriller over Oliver Ames in D2 South.

10. K.C. Cunningham, Jr. G, Worcester South
Had 20 points in the Colonels' 63-51 upset of top-seeded Fitchburg in D1 Central Quarterfinals.

Video: Stoneham's Labossiere throws it down

February, 6, 2013
PM ET producer Sherwyn Cooper passes along video of this terrific dunk by Stoneham junior guard David Labossiere, who gets elevation on a Lexington player attempting a charge in a 61-57 overtime win by the Spartans.

Recap: No. 10 Wilmington 1, No. 13 Winchester 0

January, 27, 2013

WOBURN, Mass. -- There is a new name tied atop the record books at Wilmington High. Actually, it is the same name, just with a different first initial.

Wildcats senior captain Cam Owens scored his 135th career goal to equal the school record that his brother Andy set just two seasons ago. Cam would be expected to take hold of the record on his own by the end of the season with still eight more games to play in the regular season.

Owens goal was also the lone score in Wilmington’s 1-0 win over Middlesex League rival Winchester on Saturday afternoon at O’Brien Rink. The win qualifies the Wildcats, the defending Division 2 state champions, for the postseason.

The game’s only goal came with just 8:02 remaining in the third period. Junior forward Brendan McDonough fired a long pass down the middle of the ice to find Owens streaking into the Winchester zone. Owens pushed towards goal and, forced onto his backhand, fired a pass across the crease toward freshman Billy Falter but the puck deflected off the skate of a defenseman into the net.

Wilmington head coach Steve Scanlon was pleased to come away with the win, but pointed to a number of chances that his team failed to take that would have killed off the game.

“We missed some good chances there late in the game, some open nets, but they’re a good team and a stubborn team,” Scanlon said. “We were fortunate to get the goal. We just preached to put the puck on net in the third and they did a good job.”

The Wildcats (11-2-0, 9-1-0) did not get off to a great start to the game and chances were at a premium for both teams throughout. Wilmington had the best chances in the first period when McDonough hit the post twice and Dylan DiNatale failed to tip in the puck on an empty net.

Scanlon blamed his team’s week layoff for the rough start to the game.

He added, “I thought the week off at this point in the season would help us. I think we were a little sluggish.”

The Sachems (9-2-2, 7-2-2) managed only two shots on goal in the first period and struggled to create clear-cut scoring chances. Referencing the goal that Wilmington scored, Winchester head coach Matt Spang explained that his team needed to make a more concerted effort to produce offense.

“You’re going to have to score ugly goals and we’re going to have to get to the net a little better,” he remarked. “We have 22 guys on the bench and I need all of them to contribute, not just defensively, but offensively, too. You can’t just wait for one or two guys to get it done.”

Despite being outshot, 27-17, for the game, Winchester hung around and had a chance to tie the game late in the third period. With 2:31 left, the Sachems earned a power play, but were unable to create a great chance. Junior Nolan Redler had one good shot snapped out of the air by Wildcats goaltender Drew Foley, which kept it 1-0 in the final seconds.

Scanlon was full of praise for his junior goalie, who he described as “among the best goaltenders we’ve ever had.”

He added, “Drew gives you a chance to win every night of the week. He’s a tough goaltender. He controls rebounds and you need to pour a lot of shots on him to beat him and we don’t give up a lot of shots.”

Regardless of the scrappy nature of the game and the game-winning goal, Scanlon was proud to see his team step up and get the result that qualifies them for the postseason.

“We wanted to get a seat in the tournament so getting the result was what we were after,” he said.

Winchester will play No. 6 Reading on Wednesday, while Wilmington will travel to Stoneham.

ESPN Boston Week 9 football picks

November, 2, 2012
The Skinny: Although the Colonials enter this rivalry game after a letdown against Waltham last week, these teams always have a say in the determination of the Dual County League crown. The Warriors have worked toward reclaiming the division title with help from a talented cast of seniors who have two-way success with the football and the lacrosse teams, including Chris Giorgio, Henry Guild and John Sexton. A-B’s wing-T attack is led by a pair of promising juniors in William Tejada (14 TDs) and Tom Saponaro.

Scott Barboza: Bill Maver has the building blocks for a strong group next year, but this senior group from L-S has been primed to make their run during the last two years. The seal the deal for the division, but it’s a rivalry game, so throw the records out. L-S, 20-14.

Brendan Hall: The Warriors take the inside track to their third consecutive postseason berth, but because it’s A-B they do it in knock-down, drag-out fashion. L-S, 17-10.

The Skinny: Both teams sport a perfect South Coast Conference record entering Friday’s tête-à-tête and their only loss came against a common non-league opponent in Somerset-Berkley. Since their opening day loss, the Falcons have run off six straight wins, including a 5-0 record in the SCC. D-R’s ground attack is keyed by 6-foot-7 tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu, but the Falcons have also seen dividends in the passing game behind sophomore quarterback Nathan Kowalski. The Vikings, also undefeated in the SCC, have big-play ability with the electrifying Darien Fernandez in the backfield. Yet, Wareham has also brought the lumber on defense, surrendering just 26 points through five league games.

Barboza: In big SCC games, it’s hard to pick against a Dave Driscoll-led team. D-R, 16-14.

Hall: As usual, our loyal correspondent Corey comes up with some innovative names, this one “The Fernandez Express”. As long as Darien’s legs keep churning, the Vikings will stay ahead. Wareham, 17-13.

The Skinny: The Red Devils can sew up the Middlesex League Freedom division title with a win over the upstart Spartans. Stoneham saw its undefeated record blemish last week in a 42-28 loss to Wakefield, but the Spartans are capable of throwing a monkey wrench into the race behind Aaron Louis and Darius McPherson. Meanwhile, Burlington’s backfield tandem of Anthony Cruz and Marcus O’Diah has few equals in Eastern Mass.

Barboza: Cinderella’s ball comes to a halt. Burlington, 33-24.

Hall: Stoneham appears to have a quality foundation for the long haul, but in the short term this Burlington rushing attack will be too much for the Spartans to handle. Burlington, 28-14.

The Skinny: The defending ISL champs put their undefeated record on the line in a road game. Gov’s 40-6 win over Brooks last week kept its point-per-game average above 41 points a game as Tate Jozokos and Eli Morrissey continue their assault on opposing defenses. Mustangs junior running back Drew Jacobs continued his breakout season with four touchdowns last week in a throttling of Belmont Hill.

Barboza: Opposing teams better hope they have Jacoby Jones or Ellis Hobbs returning kicks for them because it’s a 108 yards or bust with Justin Yoon kicking off. Still, Gov’s offense takes over. Governor’s, 31-24.

Hall: The Governators haven’t lost a game since Jim O’Leary took over in 2011. How crazy is that? Governor’s, 30-20.

The Skinny: Wayland looks for the inside track in the Dual County League’s Small division, entering the game with one of the league’s stingiest defenses (10.6 points allowed), and two versatile targets in senior wideout Mark Bonner and junior tailback Robert Williams. C-C, the defending league and Super Bowl champs, lost Tim Badgley in the preseason, but running backs Evan Boynton and Shayne McCloskey have picked up the slack.

Barboza: Yeah, I went with the Patriots winning a long time ago, in fact before we learned Badgley would be out for the year. It’s political season, so consider me a swing voter here. Wayland, 14-7.

Hall: I have the feeling this game is going to be possession-based. In that case, give me the better defense. Wayland, 10-6.

(The Skinny: Lowell has been on an offensive tear the last four games, going 3-1 and averaging 43 points per game over that span. Cam Latta has spearheaded the surge, but can he outduel Andover’s C.J. Scarpa? The 5-foot-8 senior hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 6, meanwhile the Golden Warriors are averaging over 370 yards of offense a game.

Barboza: Calculators ready? Andover, 46-38.

Hall: Remember the 88-80, eight-overtime game between these two in 2010? Let’s do the honorable thing here and move the venue to the Tsongas Center. Andover, 45-40.

The Skinny: Auburn, one of the state’s stingiest defenses (5.1 points per game), holds first place in the SWCL A division, and can put a vice grip on it with a win over the Rams. Offensively, the Rockets have rode one of the state’s biggest lines to bull their way to over 2,000 yards rushing and over 2,700 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Drew Goodrich and Tyler Desjardins. But Northbridge quarterback Matt Phelan (1,344 passing yards, 11 TD; 673 rushing yards, 19 TD) will be one of the more slippery athletes the Rockets will have seen all season long. Can they contain him?

Barboza: Again, more than the score, I’m wondering what the line would be set at on these occurrences: how many times the Rockets venture to pass versus the Rams keeping it on the ground. Think it’s a push, but … Auburn, 31-27.

Hall: Classic clash of philosophies here: Jeff Cormier’s power running scheme versus Northbridge guru Ken LaChapelle and his pioneering run-and-shoot. Give me the team with the better line, in a physical battle. Auburn, 20-13.

BC HIGH (3-4) AT XAVERIAN (2-6) (
The Skinny: What would you have said if we told you back in August these two teams would be meeting in November with a combined 10 losses? But that’s what we have here, as the two Catholic Conference foes will fight to stay alive in a conference that St. John’s Prep is favored to take a hold of. If linebacker Luke Catarius is a go for BC High, that should provide an interesting matchup for Xaverian and its talented skill corps of Austin DeCarr, D.J. Pagliuca and Hunter Taute. The key matchup will be in the interior, where two close friends and Division 1 commits will square off – Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (Michigan) versus BC High guard Jack McDonald (Virginia).

Barboza: Going with my preseason Catholic Conference pick in this one for whatever that’s worth – though it’s still probably worth more than Facebook stock. BC High, 21-17.

Hall: Give both teams credit here, they’re still fighting hard. But at this point, the Eagles have a little bit more momentum. BC High, 21-10.

The Skinny: Once again, these teams engage in a winner-takes-all battle for the Old Colony League crown in this week’s Game of the Week. Some elements to watch entering this one will be to see how the Red Raiders secondary is able to shake off a lackluster performance last week against Billerica. Similarly, B-R had its troubles with La Salle Academy and its spread attack a couple weeks back, so we’ll see how the Trojans’ secondary is able to deal with Barnstable quick and nimble wideouts. Let’s not overlook the running backs in this one, however. Hayden Murphy figured prominently into last year’s win by Barnstable in this game and Trojans sophomore sensation Brandon Gallagher (12 TDs) will be one to watch for years to come.

Barboza: Because it’s what Dan Buron wants us to do anyway, and for the fact I think the Red Raiders repeat. Barnstable, 30-24.

Hall: Any time you have an NFL veteran coaching the secondary, you have to think things will shore up after a bad week. Barnstable, 35-28.

ESPN Boston Week 8 football picks

October, 26, 2012
The Skinny: Both teams enter with a 1-0 MVC record, coming off their first league games last week. Lowell rolled over Billerica 56-34 while Central Catholic slipped past Chelmsford 28-21. Cam Latta has picked up where R.J. Noel left off at quarterback this year for Lowell at quarterback, throwing for 12 touchdowns and running for seven more. Central Catholic running back Santino Brancato leads the Raiders with eight touchdowns on the season, none bigger than his final score last week with 41 seconds remaining which was the game-winner over Chelmsford.

Scott Barboza: This will be high-scoring, but relatively tame by MVC standards. Central, 34-28.

Brendan Hall: Because Lowell can score in bunches, and because it's the MVC, take the over. Central Catholic, 38-31.

The Skinny: After a hot start, Chelmsford is trying to snap a three-game losing streak and risk falling behind in the competitive Merrimack Valley Conference's large division. They'll have their hands full against one of the state's most prolific offenses, averaging nearly 400 yards and 39 points per game, between quarterback C.J. Scarpa and receivers Andrew Deloury, Will Heikkinen and Cam Farnham.

Barboza: I think the Lions will try to play ball control for a while, but that can only last so long against the high-octane Andover offense. Andover, 42-31.

Hall: Do you see a recurring theme with our MVC picks? Offense, offense, offense. Andover, 40-35.

The Skinny: Like several other key league matchups this weekend, this matchup can potentially put one team in the driver's seat for the Dual County Large title. It's no secret what L-S brings to the table, but workhorse Chris Giorgio is among the league's toughest running backs. Westford counters with jack-of-all-trades athlete Justin Mount, who fills multiple roles on both sides of the ball.

Barboza: Picked the Warriors to win the DCL Large in the preseason and I'm not about to step back now. But the Warriors get it done by a chin. L-S, 14-13.

Hall: Flip a coin in this one. I landed on the Ghosts. Westford, 24-17.

The Skinny: Each of these teams received a boost in different ways last week. The Boxers saw the return of their starting quarterback and emotional leader Auggie Roberts in a drubbing of Big Three rival Durfee. Meanwhile, a Blue Devils offense that has had its troubles in recent weeks, shook off the rust to muster a gut-check, two-minute drive to pull out a last-second victory at Central Mass. rival St. John’s of Shrewsbury, led by quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie. Now, both teams meet in a non-league, late-season measuring stick game to see just how far these offenses have come. Not to mention, both teams can really lay the lumber on defense.

Barboza: Blue Devils ride the wave of momentum. Leominster, 28-20.

Hall: It won't be a shutout, but it won't be as shocking an upset when the Blue Devils take two straight for the first time, anyone? Leominster, 21-14.

HINGHAM (6-1) AT NO. 6 DUXBURY (7-0)
The Skinny: An eagerly awaited battle for the inside edge at the Patriot League Keenan division title, the competition should be as fierce at the tailgate as it will be on the field when the Dragons put their Eastern Mass. best 33-game winning streak on the line. A stout Duxbury defense, led by Mr. Football Award challenger Marshall McCarthy will have its hands full with the Harbormen’s wing-T and backfield led by Ricky Sullivan.

Barboza: The Dragons run their streak to 34 games, but it won’t be without difficulty. Duxbury, 13-7.

Hall: As usual, the Dragons will pull something together in the second half and do just enough to win. Duxbury, 20-17.

NEEDHAM (5-2) AT NO. 10 NATICK (7-0)
The Skinny: After a solid start to the season, Needham is now looking to avoid a two-game losing skid and dropping three of its last five. What better an opponent to try to snap the skid than against one of the state's prolific offenses, led by quarterback Troy Flutie (1,477 passing yards, 19 TD, 4 INT; 555 rushing yards, 7 TD) and receiver Brian Dunlap (41 catches, 784 yards, 11 TD). Needham is also coming off a 31-0 shutout loss to a Walpole squad that was missing its top running back to injury.

Barboza: No chance the Red Hawks aren't undefeated setting up a winner-take-all against Walpole. Can't wait. Natick, 31-17.

Hall: Every time we predict a high-scoring affair involving a Bay State team, it never goes as planned. So I'm going with something fairly pedestrian. Natick, 21-12.

The Skinny: The Red Rocketeers will need a win to keep pace with Mansfield (2-0) in the Kelley-Rex division race. The X-factor will be the availability of senior running back and defensive back Alex Jette. While it’s expected Jette will play, the extent to which he’ll be able to contribute is very much up in the air. Still, North is readily able to move the ball on the ground thanks to a physical offensive line anchored by left tackle Eric Beckwith. Mansfield got off to a great start in last week’s blowout of King Philip and the Red Rocketeers’ secondary will have its hands full with playmakers Brendan Hill and Mike Hershman. The Hornets have seen junior linebacker Alexander Ruddy (team-leading 55 tackles, 8 TFL) embrace a larger role this year.

Barboza: In each of the team’s last four meetings, the AWAY team has collected the victory. Not about to buck the recent trend. Mansfield, 26-21.

Hall: Per tradition, the away team wins this one with an epic possession in the final five minutes. Mansfield, 20-13.

The Skinny: King Philip was soundly delivered a rude awakening a week ago at Mansfield, in a 46-33 loss, and now looks to avoid falling behind in the Hockomock's Kelly-Rex division by extending Attleboro's losing streak. The skid currently stands at three games for the Bombardiers after a 4-0 start, and can't seem to get over the hump -- take, for instance, Malique Clark's nearly 300-yard rushing performance in a 44-41 loss to Franklin last week. An Attleboro win would surely create even more confusion at the top of the division.

Barboza: Warriors defense gets back on track, but it won't be easy against Clark. KP, 21-14.

Hall: I'm all for chaos when it comes to Hockomock bracketology. Get out your TI-83's, folks. Attleboro, 30-20.

The Skinny: It's been a long time since Stoneham has had this good of a start, but the Spartans still face questions about a perceived weak schedule. This is their chance to prove doubters wrong, with defensively-sound Wakefield coming off a 33-0 shutout loss to Burlington.

Barboza: In a word, "SPARRRTAAAHHHHHH!" Stoneham, 20-16.

Hall: Because what the heck, I love rolling the dice, and I want to keep my boss and resident Stoneham-ite Dave Lefort happy. Stoneham, 17-13.

The Skinny: The Mustangs and Hillies are looking to break free from a logjam of 3-2 teams in the middle of the ISL standings. Milton Academy is led by junior Drew Jacobs, who already has four multi-touchdown games this season. The Mustangs also have one of the biggest offensive weapons in the ISL on the foot of place kicker Justin Yoon.

Barboza: Yoon’s foot provides the difference. Milton Academy, 13-10.

Hall: Let me preface this by saying Justin Yoon can kick for anyone any day of the week. Belmont Hill, 14-10.

The Skinny: Its hopes of an undefeated season no more, Roxbury Latin looks to get back on the saddle and stay in contention for the ISL championship and a NEPSAC Bowl berth. A win here over the Knights, with its solid line and elite target in Wake Forest-bound tight end Brendan O'Neil, would bolster those odds. And the Foxes have the horses to do it, led by Boston College-bound quarterback MacKay Lowrie.

Barboza: Knights can take advantage of the matchup along the line of scrimmage. They'll win the point of attack battle. BB&N, 28-27.

Hall: I'll never count out a John Papas-coached team as long as the guy is in the business, but Latin can win track meets. Roxbury Latin, 35-30.

Stoneham's Almeida named Patriots Coach of the Week

October, 23, 2012
Bob AlmeidaCourtesy of New England PatriotsAndre Tippett with Stoneham's Jared Macone, coach Bob Almeida, AD Dave Pignone, Matt Dabenigno and Frankie Sparco.
With Stoneham off to a perfect 7-0 start, Spartans head coach Bob Almeida was named this week's New England Patriots Coach of the Week.

Here's more from the team's release:
Stoneham High School’s Bob Almeida has been named this week’s New England Patriots High School Coach of the Week in recognition of his team’s 26-7 victory over Wilmington High School on Friday, Oct. 19. With the victory, the Spartans improve to 7-0 in Coach Almeida’s first season as head coach after serving as head coach at Wilmington High from 1996 to 2007. Stoneham now leads the Middlesex Freedom Division following a 2-9 season in 2011. The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will donate $1,000 to Stoneham High School’s football program in Almeida’s name in recognition of his Coach of the Week selection.

Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, the team’s executive director of community affairs, visited Coach Almeida and his team on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Stoneham High School. The visit and check presentation will be featured on the team’s weekly television magazine show, Patriots All Access, which airs at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, on WBZ-TV in Boston and will be available immediately after on

This is the 17th year in which the Patriots join the National Football League in conducting the High School Coach of the Week program, which recognizes outstanding high school coaches and promotes youth football throughout New England. Tippett oversees the program as part of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s commitment to youth football initiatives.

“I enjoyed meeting Coach Almeida and the Spartans during my visit to Stoneham High School,” Tippett said. “I’m proud to present this award to Coach Almeida and his team in recognition of another great win in a fantastic turnaround season. The Spartans have shown great discipline and commitment to the team during their winning streak. The Patriots are pleased to reward Coach Almeida and Stoneham High School with a donation to the football program and we wish them the best throughout the rest of the season.”

At the conclusion of the season, one high school coach will be named the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year and will receive an additional $2,000 contribution toward the school’s football program.

Recap: Kicks for Cancer victory on and off the pitch

September, 30, 2012
The cliché in sports is that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.

There are always exceptions, however.

From Newton North freshman Conor Larkin scoring the lone goal to beat rivals Brookline with Pop Pop on the back of his jersey to the entire Wakefield team wearing shirts that read Angelo in honor of their coach’s father, the meaning of the 2012 Lois Wells Kicks for Cancer soccer tournament extended far beyond the Concord-Carlisle High School community that hosted it.

The tournament, now in its sixth season, has expanded from its original idea of a one-game fundraiser in honor of Concord-Carlisle assistant coach Steve Wells’ mother Lois, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 2007. This year 12 teams took part showcasing both the depth of soccer talent in the area as well as the generosity of the communities in which they compete.

Wells, speaking hours before the Patriots took the field against Lincoln-Sudbury, was amazed at the amount of support the tournament has received, “For my family and me, it just means so much and, I think, for the Concord-Carlisle community it’s really something that everyone looks forwards to every year and I think now that we’ve added other local towns it’s something that they get excited for too.”

One of the interesting features of the tournament is that players do not wear their normal team jerseys, but rather don light blue or pink T-shirts with the names of people in their lives that have been affected by cancer. From family members, to friends, and (at least in the case of one player) Bob Marley, the shirts reinforce the message that the games are about more than just wins and losses.

The original idea for the tournament was developed by Concord coach Roy Pavlik and he spoke of the attitude that the players take towards the tournament, “For some of the kids, it’s the highlight of their year. The crowds are big, but I think they get the idea that they have an opportunity to do something special here. It’s more than just about a soccer game.”

While the tournament is very personal to the Concord-Carlisle team, other coaches and teams have also become very connected to the event. Wakefield coach Matt Angelo was emotional following his team’s 2-0 win over Stoneham. He had no idea that the team had decided to wear shirts honoring his father Mike, who had been diagnosed with double myeloma in 2006.

“My guys decided to honor him as a team, they all put Angelo on their backs,” explained Angelo. “It’s special. There is a different feeling when you come here. It makes you think about the greater meaning.”

These thoughts were echoed by Newton North coach Roy Dow as he deflected a question about his team’s victory over Brookline, “Today the main thing we talked about was what we’re here for, it’s not to beat Brookline, and it’s to raise money for cancer (research). People die from cancer and what that says to me is life is short and there’s no reason not to leave everything out on the field.”

Following each game, teams gathered to take photos with their shorts and each time (and without prodding from parents or coaches) the player insisted that photos be taken of the names that each had chosen to play for. Wells noted this feeling that surrounds the tournament, “It’s something that has gone way above soccer and that’s very special to see, as a coach, to be able to do something bigger than the game itself.”

Game Notes:
" Belmont and Lexington played to a scoreless draw in one of the 1:00 games. Belmont’s sophomore goalie Robbie Montanaro made seven saves for his third shutout of the season. Lexington goalie, Joey McWeeney, made four saves for his second shutout.

" Wakefield beat Stoneham 2-0 in the other 1 p.m. game. M.J. Urbano scored the opener on an assist from Josh LaPlace. LaPlace would score the clincher and Alan Conlon kept Stoneham out for his fourth shutout of the season. Wakefield is now 3-3-3 on the season.

" Newton North edged out its rivals from Brookline 1-0 for its 2nd win of the season. Freshman Conor Larkin scored his 2nd goal of the season, and second game-winner, in the 19th minute. Andrew Leaper held on for a clean sheet.

" Reading improved to 5-3-1 with a 1-0 win over Woburn. Dane Sullivan scored the game’s lone goal off an assist from Jackson Conroy. Lee Jacobs was in net for the Rockets.

" In one of the nightcaps, No. 3 ranked Acton-Boxborough finished with a scoreless draw against Wayland.

" The other late game was a 3-0 victory by No. 2 Concord-Carlisle over Lincoln-Sudbury. The hosts took the lead in the 9th minute on a goal by senior captain Stowe Simonton. In the 27th minute sophomore Mitchell Palmer tack on the second before junior midfielder Leo Fondriest finished the scoring 9 minutes after halftime. Senior Cray Novick earned the shutout in goal (his sixth shutout of season).

MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll: Week 3

September, 25, 2012
It was a relatively quiet week in our latest MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week.

While there was some internal jockeying for position, no teams dropped out or moved into this week's poll.

However, there are plenty of big games coming up with Saturday's Kicks for Cancer tournament being played at Concord-Carlisle. Here's a breakdown of the matches to watch along with schedule:

Games to Watch:
Newton North vs. Brookline - These's two teams met in the first round of the MIAA Tournament last season, and it was a heated affair to say the least. Records go out the window in this Bay State Conference derby.

Concord-Carlisle vs. Lincoln-Sudbury - The reigning conference Champs in the DCL Small and Large will meet up at the evening time kickoff. The Patriots won the first matchup on Sept, 13, but the Warriors will be gunning to hand C-C its first loss of 2012.

Game Schedule
Lexington vs. Belmont – 1:00 pm on Turf 1

Stoneham vs. Wakefield – 1:00 pm on Turf 2

Brookline vs. Newton North – 3:30 pm on Turf 1

Reading vs. Woburn – 3:30 pm on Turf 2

Concord-Carlisle vs. Lincoln-Sudbury – 6:00 pm on Turf 1

Acton–Boxborough vs. Wayland – 6:00 pm on Turf 2

Bay State Games: July 9 recap

July, 9, 2012
Bay State Games communications coordinator Craig Kaufman sends along results from today's action, which included the first games of baseball and softball:

WOBURN, Mass. –- The opening day of scholastic competition saw the softball and baseball tournaments of the 2012 Bay State Summer Games get underway from the campus of Bentley College and the Veterans Field Complex in Waltham, Mass. Three baseball games and six softball games began the showpiece events of the 31st Bay State Games.


Southeast 7, Metro 2
Metro took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on a two-run single by Malcolm Nachmanoff (Boston), but Southeast scored the next six runs, with pairs in the third, fifth and sixth. Pinch hitter Sean Roche (Rockland) scored twice and Southeast took advantage of two late errors to score three unearned runs.

Patrick Hurley (West Roxbury) was dominant in relief for Metro, striking out five in two innings but was victimized by those miscues. Third baseman Cameron Hanley (Walpole) was on base twice for Southeast, scoring a run, stealing a base and driving in a run with a single to left field in the third.

Northeast 4, Coastal 3
Northeast clinched a walk-off victory in the bottom of the seventh when pinch hitter Colby Ingraham (Georgetown) delivered a bases loaded single up the middle to score pinch runner Mike Driscoll (North Reading).

Coastal shortstop Jimmy Gamache (Mattapoisett) was 2-2 on the afternoon, scoring two of Coastal’s runs and swiping a base in the process. He hit a triple in the fourth inning and crossed the plate on an RBI single by Ryan Kowalski (Taunton).

Andrew Deloury (Andover) had himself a 2-2 day and drove in a run in the fifth, scoring Brendon Canavan (Carlisle) to give the Northeast a 3-2 lead, before Coastal re-tied the game a half-inning later.

Coastal starter Matthew Peterson (South Dennis) went three innings of work, yielding two hits and no earned runs, while not issuing a walk and striking out three. Victor Molle (Peabody) got the victory for Northeast.

Coastal had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh, but Drew Wethington (Fairhaven) was tagged out trying to score from third base on a passed ball.

Mike Bruemmel (Bridgewater) and Ian Chaney (Fall River) also drove in runs for Coastal.

West 2, Central 0
Andrew Ringie (Pittsfield) rocked a triple to left center field in the fifth inning to score catcher Dan McGuill (East Longmeadow) and break a scoreless tie. The West added another run in the bottom of the sixth when Justin Carey (Shutesbury) walked, stole second and advanced on a groundout before scoring on a wild pitch. McGuille almost made the score 3-0 with an RBI double, but Liam Nolan (Pittsfield) was called out on an appeal play for missing third base and the teams went to the seventh inning with the West up 2-0, where pitcher Asher Young (Amherst) closed the door.

The West pitching was superb, holding Central hitters to three hits, one by Mike Woll (Millbury) in the fourth, who reached second base but was caught stealing trying to swipe third, ending the best threat for the Central on the day.


Coastal 3, Southeast 1 (10 am)
Coastal scored first in the 4th inning by Julia Sullivan (Sandwich) who also scored in the 6th by an in the park home run by Ashley Truman (Berkley). Sullivan had 2 hits in the game. Southeast got there only run in the 7th taking advantage of two errors by the Coastal team. Danielle Burgess (Millis) who was on base 3 times had the only run for the Southeast team.

Northeast 7 Metro 0 (10am)
After a slow start for both teams Northeast was the first team to score in the 5th inning. Marissa Cammarano (Bedford) came across the plate for Northeast to score their first run followed by Mikayla Wallace (Peabody) and Courtney Green (North Andover). In the 6th the Northeast bats came alive again erupting for 4 more runs to seal the win. Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham) scored twice along with Danielle Moran (Lynn) and Terri Ferrazzani (North Reading) each scored one run. Metro had three hits in the 5th inning but had one runner cut down and left the other two on base.

Metro 5 Central 0 (noon)
Metro came out on fire in the 1st inning scoring two runs by Courtney Leddy (Cambridge) and Marlene Sullivan (Waltham). Sullivan started things off in the 3rd by hitting a single following Allison Caloggero (Medford) hitting a double who both came into score in the 3rd. In the 5th to seal their win, Alexandria Craig (Waltham) hit a single and came into score. Central put up a fight the whole game. Nicole DeFazio (Northbridge) hit a single for them along with Alicia Wagner (Uxbridge) also having a single. Their efforts came up short with Metro getting the win.

West 9 Southeast 1 (noon)
West started things off in the first inning with an inside the park homerun by Tasha Polaner (Orange). Sami Stolar (Hampden) then followed with a double and was driven in by Mary Greco (Hatfield) who hit a double. The West bats came alive again in the 4th where Polana hit her second in the park home run of the day. Stolar and Greco followed with singles. An additional three runs where scored by Rebecca Carkhuff (Amherst), Brooke Fairman (Huntington), Courtney Newsome (Sunderland). Stolar also scored in the 6th. Southeast battled with two hits by Danielle Burgess (Millis) and Meghan Shay (Abington) a piece along with Caroline Shay (Abington) having one hit on the day. Christine scored the Southeast only run off of a double by M. Shay. Due to their efforts they fell short to West.

Coastal 4 West 3 (2pm)
Megan Logan (Westfield) West started things off in the 4th by walking, where she was then driven by MacKenzie Yelle (Belchertown) who hit a double. In the 5th inning, Polana hit a double followed by Stolar hitting a single both players scored in that inning. Coastal came alive in the 7th, where Jackie Kielty (Middleboro) got on base due to a third baseman error. Meghan Riley (North Reading) then came up to the plate; hit a single, which scored Kielty. Mickayla Cobb (Middleboro) hit a single followed by Juliana Fergurson (Sandwich) getting walked. Katie Wood (Westport) and Sullivan both hit singles to score Cobb and Fergurson to win the game.

Northeast 9 Central 1 (2pm)
Northeast started things off in the 2nd scoring three runs by Rachel Couto (Chelmsford), Meaghan Leary (Andover) and Jordan Day (Andover). In the 3rd and 4th inning they scored Olivia Brothers (Peabody) and Couto. In the 5th Leary, Cori Simmons (Salisbury), Day, She Carney and Couto to put the Northeast in good standing to clench the win. Central put up a fight having hits by Olivia Peterson (Westford), Nicole DeFazio (Northbridge), Mackenzie Brisbois (Douglas) and two hits by Samantha Wise (Uxbridge) who was also the only one to score for Central.

ESPNBoston hockey midseason All-State teams

January, 24, 2012
F - Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic
F - Ryan Fitzgerald, Malden Catholic
F - Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep
D - Jared Beckwith, Catholic Memorial
D - Jake Secatore, Woburn
G - David Letarte, St. John's Prep

Others garnering consideration:
Tom Besinger, Soph. F, BC High
Tom Cahill, Sr. F, Pembroke
Liam Centrella, Sr. F, Andover
Frank Crinella, Sr. F, Springfield Cathedral
Peter Cronin, Jr. G, BC High
Kevin Emmerling, Sr. F, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Connor Fenton, Sr. D, Braintree
Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Soph. F, St. Mary's of Lynn
Brian Furey, Sr. D, BC High
Danny Holland, Sr. F, Woburn
Pat Houghton, Sr. D, Westford Academy
Mike Iovanna, Jr. F, Malden Catholic
Mike Kelleher, Jr. F, Central Catholic
Chris LeBlanc, Sr. F, Winthrop
Conal Lynch, Sr. F, Boston Latin
Colin MacGillivray, Jr. D, Malden Catholic
Nikko Markham, Sr. D, St. Mary's of Lynn
Bobby Mullins, Sr. F, St. Mary's of Lynn
Brian Pinho, Jr. F, St. John's Prep
Casey Shea, Sr. F, Woburn
Shane Starrett, Jr. G, Catholic Memorial
Joe Strangie, Jr. F, Danvers
Kyle Williams, Sr. G, Central Catholic

F - Natalie Flynn, Arlington Catholic
F - Kayla Smith, Woburn
F - Kati Goguen, Acton-Boxborough
D - Martha Findley, Duxbury
D - Emily Loebs, Acton-Boxborough
G - Courtney Davis, Woburn

Others garnering consideration:
Cassandra Connolly, Jr. D, Woburn
Lily Connolly, Jr. F, Duxbury
Jackie Denning, Jr. F/D, Lexington
Rachel Donahoe, Sr. D, St. Mary's of Lynn
Jane Freda, Jr. F/D, Hingham
Haley Gaughan, Sr. F, Canton
Samantha Girard, Fr. F, Dedham
Erika Kelly, Sr. F, Watertown/Melrose
Cali Loblundo, 8th G, Acton-Boxborough
Brooke Matherson, D, Walpole
Caroline McCarthy, Sr. F, Belmont
Tori Messina, So. D, Hingham
Annie Messuri, D, Acton-Boxborough
Megan Messuri, Soph. G, Arlington Catholic
Hannah Murphy, Jr. F, Duxbury
Rachel Myette, So. G, Duxbury
Shannon O'Neil, G, Austin Prep
Danielle Phalon, Sr. F, Stoneham
Casey Schaejbe, Sr. G, Arlington
Sarah Schwenzfeier, Jr. F, Hingham
Caroline Shaughnessy, So. D, Duxbury
Kaitlyn Spillane, Jr. F/D, Franklin
Bethany Welch, Jr. G, Walpole
Rebecca Zappalla, Sr. D, Arlington Catholic

5th Annual 'Kicks for Cancer' this weekend

September, 27, 2011
The fifth annual Lois Wells Memorial "Kicks for Cancer" event commences this Saturday afternoon, at Concord-Carlisle High School. This year sees the largest field yet, with 12 teams set to face off on two fields.

Kicks for Cancer is held in memory of the late Lois Wells, a Concord resident who passed away in 2007 from cancer. She was the mother of Steve Wells, the team's assistant coach and a 1999 graduate of Concord-Carlisle.

Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults. Raffle prizes will be given away, and there will be gourmet concessions. Donations are being accepted here. All proceeds benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

3 p.m.
Lexington vs. Belmont
Brookline vs. Newton North

5:15 p.m.
Reading vs. Woburn
Stoneham vs. Wakefield

7:30 p.m.
Concord-Carlisle vs. Lincoln-Sudbury
Acton-Boxborough vs. Wayland

ESPN Boston MIAA softball picks

June, 2, 2011
Before the MIAA state softball tournaments get underway this afternoon, we're breaking down the brackets and picking some winners.

Division 1
Favorites: Chelmsford (19-1), Lynn Classical (20-2), Malden (17-3)
Sleepers: Concord-Carlisle (17-3), Central Catholic (15-3), Acton-Boxborough (15-5)
Barboza's take: Chelmsford claimed the top seed after turning a nearly flawless (minus one hiccup against Methuen) regular season as MVC Large champions and enter the tournament as favorite. Lynn Classical looks to continue its storybook season while Malden will go as far as ace Kiara Amos can take them. Central Catholic could be the one to watch here as it may have the strongest pitcher in the bracket with Meg Donegan.
Prediction: Chelmsford over Central Catholic and Acton-Boxborough over Bishop Fenwick in the semifinals; Chelmsford over A-B in final.

Division 2
Favorites: Amesbury (18-2), Burlington (18-2), Reading (17-3)
Sleepers: Dracut (14-5), Tewksbury (14-6), Stoneham (11-9)
Barboza's take: Amesbury enters as the top seed, but you could say that Burlington, who finished atop the Middlesex League, is the favorite to come out of this sectional. Fellow Middlesex entrants Reading and Stoneham should also prove to be tough outs. Burlington's potential quarter-final matchup against Dracut could determine the winner.
Prediction: Reading over Tewksbury and Burlington over Saugus in semifinals; Burlington over Reading in final.

Division 3
Favorites: Whittier (18-2), St. Mary's of Lynn (18-2)
Sleepers: Marian (15-5), Latin Academy (14-6)
Barboza's take: Akin to their girls' hockey team, until someone unseats St. Mary's, it's their tournament.
Prediction: Whittier over Marian and St. Mary's over Shawsheen; St. Mary's over Whittier.

Division 1

Favorites: King Philip (20-0), Norwood (18-0)
Sleepers: Mansfield (18-2), Bridgewater-Raynham (17-3), New Bedford (13-7)
Barboza's take: King Philip and Norwood have been the two most dominant teams in Eastern Mass and went wire-to-wire ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively in our ESPN Boston Top 25 poll. We're looking for the matchup of KP ace Meghan Rico going head-to-head with the Mustangs' Ali Maloof and Lauren Duggan.
Prediction: King Philip over B-R and Norwood over New Bedford in the semifinals; KP over Norwood in the final.

Division 2
Favorites: Abington (19-1), Hopkinton (18-2)
Sleepers: Coyle-Cassidy (16-4), Bellingham (16-4), Dedham (14-6), Plymouth South (13-7)
Barboza's take: This section is stacked from seed No. 1 to No. 21 and might be the most intriguing in the state. South Shore champion Abington and TVL crown-winners Hopkinton take the top two seeds, but we see this one as wide open with the potent Coyle-Cassidy and Bellingham lineups able to tear through top-flight pitching. We also wouldn't be surprised to see Plymouth South emerge from the back the pack.
Prediction: Abington over Coyle-Cassidy and Plymouth South over Bellingham in semifinals; Abington over Plymouth South in the final.

Division 3
Favorites: Nantucket (17-3), Avon (16-4), Case (14-6)
Sleepers: Bishop Connolly (17-3), Bristol-Plymouth (13-4)
Barboza's take: It's always hard to pick against the alma mater, and Connolly's had a fine season, but we can't help but think this one comes down to Avon and Case. Nantucket will look to hold serve as the top seed.
Prediction: Avon over Nantucket and Case over Connolly in semifinals; Case over Avon in the final.

Division 1

Favorite: Milford (19-1)
Sleepers: St. Peter-Marian (17-3), Holy Name (14-4), Shrewsbury (15-5)
Barboza's take: We've pegged the Scarlet Hawks as the favorite from Day 1 and they've maintained the No. 3 position in our statewide Top 25 poll all season long. The question is whether St. Peter-Marian, Holy Name or Shrewsbury have enough to pull off an upset.
Prediction: Milford over Shrewsbury and St. Peter-Marian over Holy Name in semifinals; Milford over SP-M in the final.

Division 2
Favorite: Hudson (18-2)
Sleepers: Narragansett (18-2), Grafton (17-3)
Barboza's take: Much like D3 North is to St. Mary's, D2 Central is to Hudson. It's simply the Hawks' world and everybody else lives in it. We wouldn't be at all surprised if Hudson repeats at state champions behind Jurnee Ware.
Prediciton: Naragansett over Groton-Dunstable and Hudson over Grafton in semifinals; Hudson over Naragansett in the final.

Division 3
Favorites: Assabet (16-2), Uxbridge (16-4)
Sleepers: Hopedale (15-5), Worcester Tech (15-5)
Barboza's take: We're looking for the top seeds to bear out in this one, until the semifinals.
Prediction: Assabet over Hopedale and Uxbridge over Murdock; Uxbrudge over Assabet.

Division 1

Favorite: Amherst (19-1)
Sleeper: Agawam (16-4)
Barboza's take: Most, including us who had Amherst ranked No. 4 in the state to begin the season, thought the Hurricans would run away and hide this season. That is until Agawam dealt them a shocking defeat midway through the spring. Amherst later returned the favor, beating the Brownies in the teams' second meeting. Now, we're looking forward to a third.
Prediction: Amherst over West Springifled and Agawam over East Longmeadow in semifinals; Amherst over Agawam in the final.

Division 2
Wahconah (19-1)
Sleeper: Palmer (16-4)
Barboza's take: When in doubt, take the seedings.
Prediction: Wahconah over Palmer in the final.

Division 3
Turners Falls (20-0)
Sleeper: Ware (15-3)
Barboza's take: Turners Falls has been perhaps the most dominant team in the state, not named King Philip, throughout the season. And we don't see the defending D3 West champs taking a fall in this tourney.
Prediction: Turners Falls over Gateway and Ware over Mt. Everett in semifinals; Turners Falls over Ware in the final.

St. Mary's downs Stoneham for D3 North title

March, 13, 2011

LOWELL, Mass. -- St. Mary’s (22-4) scored a 65-53 victory over top-seeded Stoneham (19-4) on Saturday in the Div. 3 North final at the Tsongas Center.

The 12-point margin of victory, coupled with a lead of 20 at one point in the first half, could have qualified for a comfortable win. Unless of course you are No. 2 St. Mary’s head coach Jeff Newhall.

“That was the most uncomfortable game that I think I’ve coached all year,” said Newhall, whose team will move on to face Coyle & Cassidy in the state semifinals on Monday at the TD Garden. “Even in the fourth quarter, up 19, it’s just a credit to Stoneham.”

There were times when Newhall could have felt a little uneasy about trying to grab the first Div. 3 North title for St. Mary’s. After dominating the first quarter, which included a 14-2 run to start the game, things started to unravel towards the end of the second.

St. Mary’s grabbed a 20-point lead when freshman Brianna Rudolph (seven points) blocked a shot and scored on a pull-up on the other end with 3:24 left to go in the second quarter.

After the timeout, St. Mary’s got caught out of position several times on defense and started committing fouls. When Stoneham got to the line in the penalty it capitalized with nine straight successful free throws at one point.

That ability to score point also allowed Stoneham to set up a full-court press, which worked well against a team that features three freshman who play big minutes. Stoneham went on a 17-6 run to end the half, highlighted by a NBA-range 3-pointer from Vanessa Bramante to go in to the half down, 37-28.

“In our locker room it was quiet and we had long faces,” said Newhall. “I thought we were in trouble.”

But the time to cool off did more help for St. Mary’s than it did for Stoneham. Kirsten Ferrarri opened the third with a trey and Jennie Mucciarone added two more to fuel an 11-0 run to push the lead back up to 20 in an instant.

“We went from a mind set of that we were up 20 and we are definitely going to win. To halftime we are up nine and could be in trouble. To alright we got the momentum back, but it was never a comfortable game,” said Newhall.

Stoneham was able to make a few runs the rest of the way home, but those back-breaking 3’s came back to haunt the top-seeded team.

“They went on the run and I’m sure it hurt the girls a little bit,” said Stoneham head coach Angela Billings.

Bramante was a big part of the comeback in the first half for Stoneham as she scored 14 points in the first half. But Newhall had a little wrinkle up his sleeve, as he switched Cassi Amenta on to Stoneham’s high-scorer.

The strategy worked.

Bramante was held to two points in the second half, while Amenta finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“(Amenta) was tremendous in the second half, she played great defense,” said Newhall.

Defense vaults No. 10 Reading to Middlesex title

February, 19, 2011

READING, Mass. -- Unable to solve archrival Stoneham and its variety of presses and zones through the first 16 minutes of play, the Reading girls basketball team found itself challenging one another in the locker room at halftime, to step it up on their own defensive end.

Clearly, the message didn't fall upon deaf ears. The No. 10 Rockets finished the third quarter on a 17-2 run and cruised from there, never letting the lead cut to single-digits again as they downed the No. 15 Spartans, 69-56, to clinch the Middlesex League title outright after splitting it three ways a season ago.

Reading improved to 19-1, and swept the season series with the Spartans in this last year of a one-division Middlesex (the league splits into Large and Small divisions next season with the arrivals of Arlington and Wilmington). Stoneham fell to 16-2.

"At halftime, we talked about defense," said senior forward Carlene Kluge, who ended up with 13 points and five rebounds on Senior Night. "Our defense was not what we wanted it to be in the first half, so in the second half we picked it up. We got the steals, and made it more of a running game, so that was good."

Holding a 30-26 lead at the break and struggling with the many looks Stoneham head coach Angela Billings threw at them -- from a full-court man-to-man press, sideline traps and various 2-3 and 1-3-1 looks -- the Rockets looked to speed things up in the third quarter. Coupled with their size advantage, boasting at least four starters taller than 5-foot-8, it was a tough dosage to handle.

Five-foot-10 sophomore guard Olivia Healy (22 points, 12 rebounds, five steals) was at the forefront of the replenished attack, deflecting entry passes on the wing to start a series of fast breaks, and push the ball in transition to try and draw three-point plays. Reading outscored Stoneham 23-14 in the third to seize the lead for good, but it was the play of Healy and sophomore Morgan O'Brien (18 points) over the final two minutes that stretched the lead into the teens.

First, Healy swiped an entry pass at the three-point line, slipped by Stoneham point guard Ariana Tuccelli (11 points, five assists, five steals) and laid it in easily on a breakaway. The next trip down, she pulled up on the left wing for a three-pointer, holding her follow-through as the ball sank.

O'Brien then finished it out with 22 seconds left in the quarter, rebounding her own errant three-pointer and drawing a foul on the way up to a successful put-back, and then converting the free throw for a 53-40 lead headed into the final stanza.

Overall for the second half, the Rockets shot better than 41 percent from the field, and were 15 of 20 from the free throw line.

"Third quarter, our defense picked it up," Reading head coach Kim Penney said. "I thought our denial defense on the wing was much better. (We were) much more aggressive in the lanes, we got some steals."

When asked what sparked her in that third quarter, Healy said, "Wanting it so much. Wednesday we had off, but Thursday we had a great practice. It was all defense, we didn't take it easy, and it was like a spark under all of us. We just went. We just kept going."

As well as the Rockets can run, the first half showcased their ability to gun, too. They were 6 of 10 on three-pointers in the first half, including three from O'Brien, and went on an 8-0 run late in the second quarter to take a four-point halftime lead.

Senior center Melissa DalPozzo also had 11 points for Reading, while senior Alison Brennan also reached double-figures for Stoneham with 10 points.

"I told them I could not have asked for a better effort tonight," Billings said. "I mean, Reading shot lights out, without a doubt. You know, we got into foul trouble, that didn't help, but I thought our effort was outstanding."