Sports 01-20-2011

January 20, 2011
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Honor Roll Call

Providence College Dean’s List (minimum 3.55 GPA):  Kevin Celata, Andrew Connors.

Curry College Dean’s List (minimum 3.30 GPA):  Luiz Duque, Venida Gray, Jacqueline Hurley, Joseph Twomey.

Who gets the Heisman?

The Charlestown Youth Football program, which completed one of the most successful seasons ever, will hold its annual “Awards Night” banquet at the Knights of Columbus hall tonight, Jan. 20, beginning at 6 p.m.

Help keep me in the “loop”

If you know of a “Townie” who is participating in a sports or recreational activity (elementary school, high school, college, or otherwise), please E-Mail me at bunkerhillbillie@aol.com with the information and/or photographs and I will be sure to include them in a column.  I’d also love to hear about any honor roll students or scholar athletes, or just about any story which would recognize the accomplishments of past and present “Townies.”

95 Days ‘til Opening Day

Beginning on March 1 and running for seven weeks, Charlestown Little League will hold indoor pre-season practice sessions every Tuesday at the Charlestown Community Center gymnasium.  However, it is required that all players participating in the sessions be members of the Charlestown Community Center.  Membership is free and applications are available at the gym desk.  The practice times will be 6 to 7 p.m. for 6-9 year olds, and 7 to 8 p.m. for 10-12 year olds.  If weather allows, the practices will held outdoors on the field adjacent to the tennis bubble.

Getting along swimmingly

Congratulations and good luck to the seven members of the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club swim team who will be competing in the National Invitational Tournament.  The event will be held on April 8 through April 10, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Representing Charlestown will be Coach Marci Ferry, Meaghan Doherty (100-yard breast stroke), Jonathan Smith (50-yard free-style), Carly Cahill (50-yard free-style), Colby Cahill (100-yard free-style), Teaghan McLaughlin (100-yard backstroke), Lauren Connors (25-yard free style), and Matteo Grando (100-yard breast stroke).  Each swimmer will also be competing in multiple events.

A fundraiser to help defray costs for the team will be held at the Warren Tavern on Saturday, Jan. 22 beginning at 5 p.m.

Hope springs eternal

As the high school winter sports teams head into the second half of their schedule, some can set their sights on qualifying for the State Tournament.  It is truly a special accomplishment and experience.  The following teams (with local ties) are in contention for post-season play:

BOYS BASKETBALL:

Charlestown High School (8-1, ranked #10) – Currently in first place in the Boston City League, they have notched several quality wins against highly-regarded Division I opponents.  Coach Edson Cardoso has his towering hoopsters playing full-throttle, unselfish basketball.  The team is anchored by guards Akosa Maduegbunam, Rony Fernandes and Omar Orriols, center Tyrik Jackson and forwards CJ Dowdell and Iser Barnes.

South Boston High School (3-3) – After several “down” seasons, “Southie” is going about the “payback” business.  A post-season spot is still within reach as they are a team to be reckoned with.  Sensational “Townie” point guard Richard “CoCo” Duran is one the Boston City League’s most exciting players.

East Boston High School (3-3) – Perennial power “Eastie” has their backs against the wall and will need a second-half surge to get in position to qualify for post-season play.  History has proven that they are more than capable of doing so.  The team also includes “Townie” sparkplug guard Danny Goggin.

St. Clements High School (3-5) – Coach Leo Boucher’s Anchormen remain alive after a couple of key league wins.    Freshman forwards Abdi Abdullabi and Jesus Gambaro have shown tremendous improvement.

GIRLS BASKETBALL:

Mt. St. Joseph Academy (5-5) – In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Eagles have a 3-0 league record and a knack for pulling out nail-biting victories.  Junior “Townie” forward Kacie Kelly provides an “in the paint” rebounding presence.

BOYS HOCKEY:

Malden Catholic (7-2-0, ranked #1) – The Lancers will settle for nothing less than the Super 8 Title, and their play this season reflects that determination.  As usual, “Townies” are making huge contributions to the team’s success.  Junior sniper Brendan Collier is a scoring machine and senior Paul Wrenn anchors the defense.  Junior back-liner Paul Myers has also made his presence felt both offensively and defensively.

Boston Latin (5-1-2) – Senior “Townie” co-captain Conal Lynch is amongst the league’s leading scorers and a Globe/Herald All-Scholastic candidate.  Look for Boston Latin to make some noise in this year’s tourney.

St. Clements (5-4-0) – The Anchormen will have to get a state tourney birth the old-fashioned way, by earning it.  There is a definite “Townie” flavor to their roster which explains their “rough and tumble” style of play.  Co-captain Joe Codair leads a contingent that includes standout sophomore Kevin Flanagan, Connor Sullivan, Sean Wrenn, Brennis Scales, Alex Watson, Danny Settipani, Nick Codair and Dylan Murphy.

Latin Academy (4-3-0) – A playoff berth is well within their grasp but more than likely won’t be determined until their schedule nears completion.  Senior “Townie” leaders Ryan DeRosa and Michael Clough carry the offensive load and rookie Patrick Sullivan adds depth.

GIRLS HOCKEY:

Arlington Catholic (3-3-0) – Another team that is on the “bubble,” AC will need a second-half spurt to clinch a tourney birth.  “Townie” forward Alyssa Sullivan is emerging as an impact player and freshwoman Danielle Kelley is showing great improvement.

Prep school hockey update

New Hampton NH (13-6-1) – Winger John Humphrey and his Huskies team are on track to qualify for the prestigious New England Prep School Tourney.

Groton School (8-2-1) – Junior standout Michael Doherty (13 goals, 9 assists) is burning up the stat sheet as he stakes his claim amongst the plethora of “former-Townie” stars.

Hebron Academy ME (10-7-1) – Michael Settipani (6 goals, 15 assists) continues to impress and is one of his team’s most reliable wingmen.

Brewster Academy NH (5-10-0) – Towering junior defenseman Aaron Titcomb received the game’s #1 star as he blasted a laser beam slap shot past the goalie with 28 seconds left to topple Tabor Academy 6-5.

The gym

Ever since I can remember, my dad has been refereeing basketball games.  Now that age has crept up and his days of “making calls” are over, I often reminisce about the times when my older brother Dennis and I (in our pre-teen years) would tag along with him to the various “hoop” venues in and around Boston.

Whether at the Tobin gym in Roxbury or the “Lexi” in Charlestown, most of the gymnasiums in Boston were exact replicas of each other.  There was always a weight machine attached to a wall (with the accompanying pulley cables), a set of parallel bars, a pommel horse, wrestling mats, a punching bag hanging on a section of chain link and, of course, the bizarre overhead inclined track.  A corner set of metal spiral stairs usually led up to the track.

My brother, on more than a few occasions, had to rescue me from the bowels of the track as I was unable to navigate my way back to the safety of the spiral stairs platform without help.  I can’t recall ever noticing an adult use the track, or gym equipment for that matter.

My dad once posed that question to “Lexi” gym director “Speedy” Kane who, incredibly, jumped up on the pommel horse and performed a flawless 30-second routine worthy of an Olympic gold medal.  Days later, however, when we returned, “Speedy” was walking with a distinct limp and complaining of back pain.

Before each game my father officiated, he would ask the opposing coaches if my brother and I could “man the table” (Denny on the book, me on the clock), no doubt to keep an eye on us (OK, on me).  We had both become proficient at it though, despite our youth and perceived inexperience.

Today’s sports scorebooks include a block-letter “example” page of how error-free notations should appear.  Every game book Denny ever kept score in looks exactly like that page.  He was also able to quickly and accurately respond to any question a coach would ask during a game.  I, on the other hand, was the weak link and usually culpable whenever things went sour.

As the “clock” person, I was required to start and stop the clock, sound the horn for substitutions, and signal the end of a quarter (or game).  Electronic scoreboards weren’t prevalent at the time so I mostly used a self-winding, circular clock which had to be set manually.  According to my brother, I often signaled the end of a quarter either a minute too soon or a minute too late.  I was also given a small silver horn, which when blown into, sounded eerily similar to the scale-horns the nuns used at St. Mary’s before forcing us to sing “Kumbaya” or “Up With People.”  Most times my father had me use his spare whistle because it was much louder.

Boston Park League basketball of the 1960’s was comprised of neighborhood teams (usually either all-white or all-black) that had become fierce rivals, not unlike their football counterparts.  The players were blue-collar, family men who not only enjoyed the game but were looking for a strenuous workout to let off some steam.  Some were even former high school or college stars.  Racial tensions ran high throughout the City during this era so it was not unusual for “all hell to break loose” in the middle of a game over a seemingly minor infraction whistled by a referee.

Overall though, I sensed that the players appreciated my father’s promptness, impartiality (many a cousin who fouled out in the first half of a game can attest to my dad’s impartiality), attention to officiating protocol, and fearlessness to go where perhaps other refs would not.

My father also regarded the McCabe brothers, Brian and Steve, as capable “Townie” referees.  They carried themselves with an aura of authority, not unlike Wyatt Earp, and whenever they were assigned to work a game with our dad, Denny and I were always filled with relief.  We knew the McCabe’s would “have our dad’s back.”

My dad often officiated the Park League playoff games, where the competition was intense and the sense of unease off the charts.  It was not uncommon for my brother and me to hear comments, after a whistled infraction, questioning our dad’s progeny, or worse.

One particular championship game stands out.  It was held at the Tobin gym and pitted the South Boston “Brownies” against the powerhouse “Roxbury Tire” team.  The overhead track was “a sea of Scalli caps” and it felt like there wasn’t enough air in the gym for everyone to breath.  “Southie” featured the outside shooting of Ray Flynn and pinpoint passing of Brian Wallace.  I don’t recall the names of the Roxbury players but, without a doubt, the best player was their towering, athletic center.  His teammates were smart enough to know that getting him the ball on every possession would dramatically increase their chances of winning.

Immediately, Roxbury’s center and Flynn established their scoring presence with a series of acrobatic, slashing drives and “feeling it” jump shots.  The more points they accumulated, the harder they got fouled.  As the game progressed, both players continued their highlight-reel performance, not unlike Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins did in their classic playoff encounter.  With the intensity at a fever pitch and the action under the boards turning into a rugby match, “it” finally happened.  A referee’s whistle was blown, one player shoved another and a full-out melee ensued.

One player took a swing at my father, who deftly employed a jiu-jitsu avoidance maneuver.  Both bodies tumbled over backwards and my dad’s black-framed glasses were catapulted across the gym floor as he lay in a heap.  I caught my dad’s eyes and he smiled and winked, but remained motionless (an excellent strategy given the circumstances).

Denny and I went about the business of quickly retrieving the missing glasses as a hasty exit from the gym moved to the top of our priority list.  I’m not sure if it was Divine Intervention, but, order was restored in a matter of minutes without further incident.  To everyone’s credit, the violence did not escalate, though it certainly could have, and the game proceeded to its conclusion with the “Brownies” posting a one-point win.  Afterwards, the players shook hands and another Boston Park League basketball season was permanently etched in the record books.

As was the Kelly routine on the nights our dad officiated, we stopped by the Green & Friedman bakery in South Boston and devoured delicious, mouth-watering cream puffs, half-moons and bismarks on the ride home.