Tag: Somersworth

Championship Snapshots: Past hoop memories galore

By Mike Whaley

This week’s Jam Session hears from fans, coaches and former players and coaches as they recall special moments from past championship games.

There are quite a few varied takes. You have a celebratory bus ride past adoring townspeople; injuries overcome and deficits, too; a player standing on a rim after the game; a basket scored for the other team; a lucky nickel; trampoline dunking in practice the day before the final; and how about one win at a time all the way to 25-0 and a few other perfect thoughts. Let the memories begin!

Bill Douglas • 1971 Austin-Cate Academy

Bill Douglas, player, Austin-Cate Academy, 1971 Class S boys champs – With the Class S title in hand against Epping in the waning minutes at the University of New Hampshire, old Austin-Cate Academy of Center Strafford cleared the bench, recalled Douglas, the team’s star guard. Freshman Eddie Maccarelli made a steal and blazed down the floor in the final seconds, laying the ball in just before the buzzer – but in the other team’s basket. Final score: ACA 66, Epping 55. Douglas said he later found out that if Macarelli, who he dubbed “Wrong Way,” had scored for Austin-Cate the Wildcats would have tied the Class S record for most points by a winning team in a championship game with 68. Maccarelli is the only Austin-Cate player to have played on the school’s two state championship hoop teams. He was also on the 1974 title team as a senior. ACA made four trips to the Class S championship during a five-year span in the early 1970s. The school closed in 1980.

Frank Weeks, coach, Alton, 1975 Class A girls champs – Weeks recalls in the ‘75 final vs. Hillsboro-Deering, Alton led by just 20-14 at the half. However, they had a huge 18-0 surge in the third quarter that propelled them to a convincing 49-24 championship win – the first of three championships in four years. Alton, which became part of Prospect Mountain HS with Barnstead in 2004, won again in 1976, lost in the 1977 final and won in 1978, along the way building a 64-game winning streak. Two of its players – Amy Birdsey and Diane DeJager – scored over 1,000 points, and a third, Pam Smith, had over 970. A fourth, Arlene Dejager, a force on the boards, recorded over 1,000 career rebounds. Weeks also recalls at practice the day before the championship, he felt they were well prepared and there was nothing else to be done to get ready for the game. So he let the girls pull out the trampoline and the team spent the rest of the practice working on their dunks. “It was a very good group of young ladies,” Weeks said. “They were physically talented and committed. They enjoyed playing basketball.”

1976-77 Oyster River senior captains Jody Mooradian and Laurie Herbst admiring the championship plaque with coach Cathy Coakley.

Jody Mooradian, player, Oyster River, 1977 Class A girls champs – Mooradian had this memory from game day in 1977, which she recounted in 2019 to Seacoastonline after coach Cathy Coakley’s death: On the day of the state championship game, the bus was 30 minutes late. Coakley, always cool and calm, handled it perfectly. “Instead of getting nervous, she said, ‘OK, everybody let’s start dressing now in the bus.’ We all started putting on our shorts and our sneakers, then when we got off the bus we were ready to go.” Mooradian added, “Some people, even in college, when things start happening, coaches will let the situation take over. I just remember that — ‘just start getting dressed.’ That’s a thing that kind of sticks with you. How do you react? She was very professional. She made it happen. That helped us win, that little adventure.” Indeed, the Bobcats beat perennial power Alton, the two-time defending champs, in the final, 49-46, at Saint Anselm’s College for the school’s first girls’ hoop title. It snapped the Apaches’ 64-game winning streak to cap a perfect 20-0 season for Oyster River.

Mike Whaley, fan, 1976 Class L boys championship game – One of Whaley’s favorite championship memories (when he was a high school teen growing up in the Durham area) took place in the waning seconds of the 1976 Class L final, played at UNH between Trinity and Portsmouth. With the score tied at 58-all and time running out, a Portsmouth player called a timeout the Clippers didn’t have. A technical foul resulted. “Back then, the technical was a one-shot award,” recalled Whaley, not the two shots it is today. “With only a second or two remaining,Trinity sent gritty guard Dan Duval to the line at the end of Lundholm Gymnasium where the crowd enters. Above the basket was an open area where, at the time, fans were allowed to gather to watch the game. Since it was a technical foul shot,  Duval was all by himself at the foul line. As he prepared to take the shot, a small group of hecklers taunted him from above. It didn’t bother Duval, who calmly drilled the shot for the championship win.” That allowed Trinity, coached by Don Beleski, to defend its title, while, for Portsmouth, it was one of four painful Class L championship losses over a six-year span under legendary coach Dan Parr – the state’s winningest coach with 704 coaching victories.

Marge Fisk, coach, Dover, 1977 Class AA girls champs – Fisk guided the Green Wave during the infancy of NHIAA girls basketball from 1970 to 1982. The 1977 championship was unexpected as the previous year’s team, laden with seniors, went undefeated, but was upset in the quarterfinals. However, the ‘77 Dover girls, led by gritty guard Patty Foster, plus the addition of talented sophomores Karen Vitko and Lynne Richard Chavez, went undefeated to win the program’s first title over Manchester Central. “That was one of the finest groups I ever coached,” said Fisk in 2021. “They were just a family. There were a lot of superstars, but we always played as a team, and it made a big difference.” There was no big celebration after the championship win.  On the bus ride back, the players did ask coach Fisk if they could do “something wild.” Mary Brady Legere said the coach let the girls get out of the bus at the Lee Traffic Circle to do a Chinese fire drill around the bus and then get back in. 

Paul Boulay, player, Somersworth, 1984 Class I boys champs – It was the third quarter of the 1984 final at UNH and Somersworth trailed Pembroke by 10 points (45-45) with under two minutes to play. The Hilltoppers were 20-0 and playing in their third straight final, having lost the previous two. “They’re shooting a free throw and I’m lined up looking into the stands trying not to start crying,” said Boulay, who recalls he and teammate, Kyle Hodsdon, talked about winning the championship as pre-teens back in the day at a family Christmas party. “I went coast to coast for an old-school three and then assisted on a layup to end the third quarter (to cut the lead to 45-40). We outscored them 15-6 in the fourth to win 55-51. Up 53-51 with five seconds left, I got fouled and went to the line for a 1-and-1 (before the 3-point shot). I remember hitting the first one (to make it a two-possession game) and erupting with a jumping fist pump and a quick run in front of our fans. Don’t remember thinking about doing it, but the release of emotions and relief was just overwhelming because I’m not sure what I’d have done if we’d lost three straight.”

Tim Mucher, Farmington • 1984 Class M State Champions

Mike Lee, coach, Farmington, Class M boys champs (1984, 1988) – Lee, who coached the Tigers, from 1977 to 1998, recalls at the end of the 1984 championship game, a 76-54 win over Conant, being approached by a furious Peter Cofran, the tournament administrator. Cofran was yelling at Lee, “Get him down!” Lee had no idea what Cofran was referring to, until he saw Farmington guard Tim Mucher standing atop one of the rims. “I don’t know how he got up there,” said Lee, although he had his suspicions. “I’m sure it was something he had seen on television.” Not long after, Lee recalls going to the NHIAA offices in Concord and seeing a picture of Mucher on the rim. He laughs. “That resonates now.” He also recalls in the final 90 seconds of  the 1988 championship game, a 78-70 win over Mascoma, seeing a nickel, heads up, in front of the Farmington bench. As he bent down to pick it up, a voice yelled, “Don’t pick it up. It’s been there the whole game.” That voice belonged to Tony Carone, a member of the ‘84 championship team. Lee left the nickel there because, you know, a heads-up nickel signifies good luck – and it did that day for the Tigers.

Nute Rams • 1990 Class S State Champions

David Burrows, player, Nute, 1990 Class S boys champs – Burrows led the Rams to their last hoop title in 1990, scoring a tournament record 149 points in four games (still the most in the state regardless of division or gender). Nute beat Wilton-Lyndeborough in the final, 56-45, behind 34 points from Burrows. He had this recollection: “Something that stands out in my memory was after our championship game (in 1990). The team bus and several spectator buses were parked at the exit outside the locker rooms at Plymouth State College.  I think the entire community of Milton was waiting for us to come out to celebrate. What I saw next was hair tingling. Wilton’s team came out of that exit and our fans gave Wilton a standing ovation. I was very proud to be part of a community that shows that level of respect and sportsmanship.  Something you rarely see these days.”

Kelly Hall Barsky, center, is now the interim athletic director at UC Santa Barbara where she is a former basketball coach. In 1992-93 she helped lead Coe-Brown to an undefeated season and the Class M girls hoop championship. [Courtesy photo]

Kelly Hall Barsky, player, Coe-Brown, 1993 Class M girls champs – The Bears capped a perfect season with a 54-52 win over Franklin in the final to win the school’s first girls’ basketball championship. Barsky, now the interim athletic director at UC Santa Barbara, fondly remembers the championship and the celebration afterwards. “We rode back in the bus,” she said. “As we pulled into Epsom (Traffic) Circle and then all the way to Northwood, there were families that came out of their houses, along the route, and turned their lights on. We had a fire truck that led the bus. They came out and waved and we were waving and cheering.” It culminated with the team going back to the Coe-Brown gym where the Bears practiced every day. “Families and community members showed up,” said Barsky, who played for her dad, Tom Hall. “It brings me to tears now because it was just a moment of unity.”

 

The 1992-93 Stratford Lions went 21-0 to win the Class S state boys hoop championship, beating Orford in the final, 40-39. [Courtesy photo]

Eric Hurlbert, player, Stratford, 1993 Class S boys champs – Hurlbert was a junior on that undefeated team and one of three players – seniors Troy Burns and Josh Stone were the other two – to break 1,000 points that season (two did it in the same game). The Lions beat Orford for the title, 40-39, scoring the winning basket at the buzzer on a Billy Burns feed to his brother Troy. It was Stratford’s first championship since 1942. The school closed in 2012.

Keith Friel, player, Oyster River, 1995 Class I boys champs – It was a special moment for Friel when the Bobcats won the first of back-to-back Class I titles in the mid 1990s – a 55-52 win over Lebanon. “Our first championship, winning it at Lundholm (Gymnasium) with that core of kids we grew up playing together from (grades) 3, 4, 5, all the way up,” Friel said. “That was special. Hugging my brother (Greg). It was a culmination of all those hours of camp, all those hours in the gym growing up in Lundholm (where the Friel boys dad was the UNH men’s coach from 1969 to 1989). It was kind of surreal. I have all those memories of seeing (my dad) coaching there. When he ran out on the floor and hugged me, it was really special.”

Dave Smith coached Coe-Brown Northwood Academy to the 1997 Class M boys basketball championship. He is pictured here in 2021 being honored for his 600th coaching win. [Courtesy photo]

Dave Smith, coach, Coe-Brown, 1997 Class M boys champs – The dean of active N.H. coaches, Smith has coached basketball in the state for 55 years (45 in high school). The beginning of his one championship win in ‘97 still resonates. “We started out 6-0 – behind,” recalls Smith. “I was very close to (calling) a timeout. They had the ball. I was saying, ‘Oh crap, this isn’t a good way to start.’ We were pressing at Plymouth State. … Dakota Smith was playing up front on the press and he came all the way back on the rotation, which was a good rotation. He made a steal. We went down and scored. From then on it was back and forth. That kind of set the tone for us defensively. We had a great defensive game.” Coe-Brown won the championship, 57-43.

Dave Nichols, coach, Oyster River, 2003 Class I girls champs – This is one of Nichols’ favorite stories about the 2003 champs. He coached the Bobcats to four titles, and was the first in N.H. to coach both a boys and a girls team to a championship (OR boys in 1988, and three girls teams – 2003, 2006, 2009). “After our first game I commented that it was clear that this team was going to be very good and that all could see that they loved playing together,” Nichols recalled. “I told them that they would have 25 opportunities to do that, 18 regular-season games, three in the holiday tournament (Manchester, playing three Class L schools) and then four in the Class I tournament if we could get all the way to the finals; 25 games, maybe. Then I said, ‘one down’ and they shouted ‘24 to go.’ That countdown continued after every game. That was quite prophetic, too, and later people asked if I had been brazen enough to tell the team that we could go 25-0. No, the 25 games were how many they ‘could’ play, not a challenge to win them all. But we did.”

Dan O’Rourke, coach, Hanover, 2005 Class I girls champs – O’Rourke, the Marauders’ coach since 2001, recalls a key moment early on in the 2005 Class I championship against Oyster River, coached by Dave Nichols. Hanover had three girls with fevers and Oyster River got out to an eight-point lead. Hanover had a player named Emily Huff, who O’Rourke described as a terrier. She was on the bench going, ‘Let me in. Let me in.’ O’Rourke said let’s see what happens, knowing that when he put her in she would get after it. “Finally the game was starting to get away,” he said. “We put her in. Within a 3- or 4-minute span she completely changed the complexion of the game. Came in. Stole the ball two or three times. Hit a shot, and suddenly it was back to a tie game.” Hanover went on to win, 49-38, to defend their 2004 title. The Marauders have won five titles under O’Rourke.

Stephanie Larpenter, player, Sunapee, 2006 sand 2007 Class S girls champs – “One memory that stands out from our championships from 2006 to 2007 is that in the championship game in 2006 there was four minutes left in the game and I tore my ACL,” said Larpenter, who is now Sunapee’s coach. “Fast forward to 2007 after surgery and physical therapy for eight months. We beat Groveton, and just the feeling of accomplishment personally and with the team coming back from a major injury like that is something I’ll never forget. The satisfaction of all the hard work paid off. I think that is one core memory that really stands out to me.”

John Mulvey, player, Portsmouth, 2009 Class I boys champs – “I grew up playing basketball with the same group that won the 2009 championship,” wrote Mulvey who played for his dad, Jim Mulvey and is now the Clipper coach. “Growing up, we would play all day every day. Playing high school basketball with this same group was a dream. We had a lot of success, but going into our senior year we were missing something. That was a state championship. Late in the game, we got two full-court layups from long passes after Pelham scored. After those layups, we realized the game was out of reach and we were going to win the championship. I will never forget the feeling and moment of jumping around with my best friends celebrating a state championship.” Final score: Portsmouth 61, Pelham 48. On a personal note, Mulvey scored a game-high 26 points and buried five 3-pointers, a tournament record he still shares with two other players. The game, however, did not start well for the lefty sharpshooter. He missed his first seven shots. “The first couple almost broke the backboard,” he said in 2020. “I had to settle down.” Which he obviously did.

Aliza Simpson McKenna, player, Londonderry, 2014 Division I girls champs – “We had one loss on the season to Bedford and we were squaring up again for the state title. This was legendary Coach John Fagula’s last high school game after an incredible career and we were hoping to send him off as a champion. I’ll never forget, we were down by two and we probably had 10 seconds left to play. Bedford was a powerhouse and had great defenders. The time was running down and Brittany Roche was left wide open in the corner. A pass came flying at her from a baseline drive and without any fear she threw up a 3-pointer. Nothing but net. We had clinched the title, 57-56, ended Bedford’s undefeated season and allowed John Fagula to sail off into the sunset as a champion.”

Rick Forge, coach, Gilford, 2016 Division III girls champs – “The perfect season,” said Forge, who also coached Gilford to the 2009 title and Somersworth to a crown in 1986 in Class I. “Back then Lakes Region basketball fostered some great rivalries amongst the area’s seven Division 3 schools.  It was only fitting that Gilford and Laconia would be the two teams left standing for the finals. The schools, separated by a couple of miles – or a few long 3-pointers – would be meeting for the fourth time that season (holiday tournament included).  Each previous matchup was an instant classic, including a triple OT game that is still talked about. The community atmosphere in the local coffee shops and businesses was electric.  On championship Saturday it was a full SNHU gym of red and blue and the fans, well let’s just  say they were into it.The actual game was wire to wire filled with huge moments: long 3s from Brooke Beaudet, a clutch Maddie Harris steal in the final minute, Cassidy Bartlett assisting on a Jordan Dean game-winning backdoor cut, and Stevie Orton’s game-sealing free throws in the final seconds. When the final horn sounded we had managed to squeeze out a (42-38) win and complete the undefeated journey. It was a perfect ending to a perfect season for a perfect group of young ladies.”  

Cassidy Bartlett, player, Gilford, 2016 Division III girls champs – “I can still feel the overwhelming sense of emotion that came with the final buzzer,” said via email.  “Years of memories, practice, competition and passion culminating into a picture-perfect ending. There is nothing like celebrating a championship.  It’s not just for the team or Gilford High School – it’s for an entire community.  It hangs as a banner; a piece of history that serves as a symbol of legacy for those who come next.  At the core of our accomplishment was the culture of the team.  We grew up learning the game together, and we inspired each other to be the best versions of ourselves.  Most importantly, we were devoted to the same mission: ‘Take care of the little things and the big thing will take care of itself.’’’

Trevor Howard, player/coach, Littleton, Class M/Division IV boys champs 1990, 2016, 2020 – Howard is part of a small N.H. fraternity to have played for and coached for a high school state champion. Here are a couple quick thoughts from the current Crusaders’ coach: “The last four boys’ state championships 1971, 1990, 2016, 2020 were all undefeated. Littleton hasn’t won a state championship in 50 years with a loss on their record. So I guess it’s either undefeated or nothing.  I’ve been lucky and blessed to be involved in nine state championship games, one as a player, one as an assistant coach, and seven as a head coach.” A huge moment for Howard was Ethan Ellingwood’s game-winning shot with 10 seconds to play in the 2016 championship game against Portsmouth Christian that broke a 36-all tie and won it for the Crusaders. “Best memory and biggest shot in LHS basketball history,” said Howard, who captured his first title as a coach.

Jay Darrah, coach, Pittsfield, 2018 Division IV boys champs – Two indelible memories for coach Darrah as Pittsfield won its first hoop state title, beating Newmarket, 43-40. The first: “As a coach, having some of the members of the 1981 and 1990 (runner-up) teams handing over their runner-up medals post game and thanking us for finishing the job that they wanted so badly. Thanking us for bringing a state championship to Pittsfield for the first time.” Secondly: “As a father who had the pleasure of coaching my son and his closest friends through this memorable season, I will never forget the post-game medal ceremony. Placing medals around the boys’ necks in front of our community will be one of my favorite moments.  The 2018 season was my 17th season coaching the Panthers.  We had a handful of semifinal appearances, but never managed to make it to the finals.  But that didn’t stop my son Cam and I from attending every championship game as he grew older.  He always promised me that someday he would get me that championship medal. Well the last player to be presented a medal that day was my son Cameron.  After I placed the medal around his neck, Cam immediately took the medal from his neck and placed it around mine and gave me a hug and said, ‘Here is the medal I have been promising you.’”

Jeff Holmes, coach, Exeter, 2019 D-I boys champs – A few things jump out for Holmes who won his first coaching championship with a 53-30 win over Salem, completing an undefeated season. “We jumped out 7-0, hitting our first three shots,” he said. “That was huge.” To begin the fourth quarter, Salem got a technical with the game still close in the 7-8-9 range. That started a run to allow the Blue Hawks to pull away. As Exeter pulled away, Holmes got to soak in the championship moment in the final minutes. “It was going our way, so I’ve got to take it in, winning the title, which was pretty cool,” he said.

Epping • 2019 Division IV State Champions

Nick Fiset, coach, Epping, 2019 D-IV boys champs – “I remember thinking all week during practice the championship game would fly by, but (remember) during the game feeling like the clock never moved and it was taking forever,” Fiset recalled. “ I called a timeout after Hunter Bullock scored an incredible basket and said to him while he was walking over ‘Keep it going, only a little bit left.’  He replied like he always did, ‘Coach, I can do this all night.’  All I could think to myself was, ‘He sure can.’”

John Fisher, coach, Bishop Guertin, 2021 Division I boys champs – “While I have many fond memories of our championship game – 42-35 win over Winnacunnet – one that stands out was the elation on the faces of the senior players on that team after the final buzzer when they ran onto the floor,” Fisher wrote via email. “A close second was listening to the speeches each senior player gave at the basketball banquet that occurred the next week. Each player’s speech was filled with fond memories of times spent with members of the team. It was an inspiring moment and reminded everyone in the room that having fun with your friends is ultimately what the game is about.”

Rick Acquilano, coach, Gilford, 2021 Division III boys champs – Gilford trailed in the final by as many as 13 points in the second half, but rallied to tie it at 39-all with 22 seconds to play. Hopkinton had the ball. “We needed a defensive stop,” the coach recalled. Gilford’s Riley Marsh stole the ball at mid-court and took it in for a layup to take the lead.  “The game ended with Jalen Reese blocking a shot attempt under the basket as time expired to hold on for a 41-40 victory,” Acquilano said. “Two great defensive plays to preserve the victory.”

Dave Nichols, now an assistant with the Hanover girls, has been coaching since the early 1970s when he was a volunteer assistant at his alma mater of Milford HS. He weaves a good story, and it is this one that we will leave you with, about Oyster River’s 1988 boys’ hoop championship, complete with a superb background story.

During the summer of 1987 he  coached an AAU team along with the late Jack Ford of Winnacunnet and Mike Lee of Farmington. “We had two of my Oyster River players on the team, John Freiermuth and Pat Casey,” Nichols recalled. “Mike Joslin of Lebanon was also on the team. Those three kids, the only ones from Class I, along with Mike Mucher of Farmington, who was the only Class M player, would hang out together a lot. AAU was different back then and we were allowed to pick kind of an all-star team from N.H. so the rest of the team was Class L kids. On one trip I had those four kids in the car with me and the subject of the coming high school season came up. Mike Joslin claimed that they, Lebanon, were loaded and going ‘all the way’. Slowly I responded to the delight of the other three in the car.  ‘Actually, this is what’s going to happen, Mike. You guys will have a great season, probably go undefeated because you have an easy schedule. The three other top teams will be Goffstown, Merrimack Valley (Scott Drapeau was an incredible freshman) and Oyster River. Those three teams will play each other twice and will probably split the wins.” The other three players were now chiming in and giving Joslin, who we all liked a lot, a hard time about their ‘soft’ schedule. I went on. ‘The four of us will get to the semifinals and you’ll have to beat two of us to win it all. That won’t happen. You might beat one of us in the semis but whoever is left will shock you in the finals because you will have faced zone teams all year and you’re not quick enough to play man against any of us. Hopefully it will be us in the finals, right guys?” nodding to Pat and John. “And if it is, you won’t be able to bring the ball up alone against our man press all night.

If it’s us, playing on our ‘second home court’ where we practice all the time (admittedly a huge exaggeration) you’ll have had your third long drive down in a week while we have a five-minute bus ride, we’ll wear down your tired butts and send you back for a long, lonely ride home.’ The other three all joined in with a chorus of agreement while I smiled.

Pretty much the best prediction I have ever made. It was a long hard season for us but somehow we were ranked No. 2 with MV third and Goffstown fourth. Lebanon did get by Goffstown while we pulled out a close, hard-fought win over Merrimack Valley. 

In the locker room at UNH someone came by to wish us luck and said there were a bunch of limousines in front of UNH to drive the players and coaches back to Lebanon. We never knew if that was true or not, but certainly used it as motivation. Lang Metcalf was a great coach and a lot of insiders thought this was going to be his crowning achievement to a storied career. Lang admitted to me later that he knew they were in for a battle. Joslin played well, but we did wear him down and Freiermuth was deservedly the player of the year. We led the whole way and the game was not really as close as expected, 65-51. Oyster River’s first-ever Class I championship.

If you have championship memories of your own that you’d like to share, please email those to kj@ball603.com by March 15 and we’ll post those as well.

1K point scorers in the 603

On the heels of Mike Whaley’s recent three-part series of The Jam Session that took an in-depth look at the 2,000 point scorer, we’re looking to create an all-time NHIAA 1,000-point scorers list.

Thanks to our local historian Whaley, we have been able to get a jump start on the list (see below), but we need your help! Send us your 1,000-point scorer’s list (boys and girls), so we can add your school to the list. Simply take a photo of the 1,000 point banner in your gym or send us a list. We’re hoping to get the total points scored (if known) and the year of graduation.

Send your lists to us at kj@ball603.com.

Concord1K

Image 1 of 20

Here’s what we’ve got so far

BEDFORD
Isabella King (1,115 • 2021)
Cam Meservey (1,122 • 2014)

BOW
Erica Kensey (2000)
Heather LaBranche (2000)
Jen Haubrich (2002)
Eric Riggs (2002)
Mike Chergey (2006)
Katelyn Nerbonne (2006)
Paul Chergey (2006)
Brian Chergey (2008)
Lindsey Nerbonne (2013)

COE-BROWN
Andy Noyes (1975)
Joe Sims (1978)
Wade Sauls (1984)
Ginger Sanford (1989)
Kelly Hall (1993)
Todd Peterson (1993)
Jen Robinson (1996)
Emily Liskow (1998)
Kyle Purinton (1999)
Brandon Boggs (2002)
Ashley Cooper (2004)
Stacey Kent (2005)

CONANT
Keith Johnson (1979)
Darin Hood (1980)
Paul Asel (1982)
Dave Springfield (1985)
Scott Baldwin (1986)
Mindy Stenberg (1988)
Kari Hunt (1995)
Karen Belletete (1996)
Craig Griffin (1998)
Andy Jones (2001)
Betsy Oswalt (2001)
Justen Nagle (2002)
Kathleen Neyens (2005)
Kyle Todd (2008)
Jimmy Peard (2010)
Brooke Springfield (2011)
Devin Springfield (2013)
Madison Springfield (2015)
Peyton Springfield (2019)
Elizabeth Gonyea (2020)

CONCORD
Hap Simpson (1,030 • 1948)
Joe Drinon (1,016 • 1962)
Jen Shadlick (1,050 • 1996)
Bill Haubrich (1,066 • 1971)
Jane Haubrich (1,047 • 1981)
Champ Simpson (1,155 • 1975)
Glenn Mathews (1,082 • 1984)
Matt Chotkowski (1,009 • 1995)
Matt Bonner (2,459 • 1999)
Becky Bonner (1,550 • 2000)
Kalen Marquis (1,036 • 2013)
Matt Giroux (1,170 • 2017)

CONVAL
Phillip Abbott (1,064 • 1978)
Todd Burgess (1,390 • 1984)
Hunter Burgess (1,048 • 1989)
Jon Tirone (1,124 • 1989)
Jon Horne (1,106 • 1991)
Christine Jutras (1,389 • 1994)
Jaime Leflem (1,856 • 1995)
Veronica Jutras (1,111 • 1996)
Brett Leflem (1,374 • 1997)
Danielle Statuto (1,341 • 2000)
Lindsey Carey (1,206 • 2019)

DOVER
Stu LaFramboise (1968)
Karen Vitko (1979 • 1,179)
Lynne Richard (1979 • 1,075)
Scott Leighton (1981)
Kevin Crowell (1987)
Jeff Pierce (1991)
Jill Downer (1998 • 1,192)
Jessica Clark (2001 • 1,137)
Seana Boyle (2002 • 1,090)
Shavar Bernier (2004)
Curran Leighton (2009 • 1,212)
Katrina Krenzer (1,074 • 2019)
Ty Vitko (1,159 • 2019)

EPPING
Lionel Levesque (1965)
Butch Langdon (1966)
Maureen Denyou (1983)
Kerry Bascom (1985)
Ryan Gatchell (1990)
Julie Freeman (1990)
Denny Wood (1991)
Matt Price (1998)
Samantha Newton (2002)
Shauna Mullenix (2002)
Ryan Newman (2003)
Chris Crowley (2008)
Meghan Fiore (2008)
Frank Stanley (2013)
Jimmy Stanley (2014)
Colby Wilson (2016)
Jackson Rivers (2017)
Hunter Bullock (2019)
Owen Finkelstein (2022)

FALL MOUNTAIN
Patrick Aumand (1,495 • 1973)
Karolyn Domini (1,240 • 1984)
Jason Waysville (2005 • 1994)
Morgan Ferland (1,016 • 2015)
Ryan Murdoch (1,030 • 2015)
Avery Stewart (1,108 • 2021)

FARMINGTON
Len Auclair (1960)
Danny Reynolds (1970 • 1,217)
Paul Moulton (1970)
Gary Boulay (1979 • 1,169)
Casey Howard (1984 • 1,138)
Steve Mosher (1986 • 1,385)
Julie Gagne (1990 • 1,432)
Kristy Woodill (1996 • 1,848)
Tim Lee (1998 • 2,146)
Nick Doyle (2001 • 1,052)
Jayson Whitehouse (2004 • 1,579)
Tabby Whitehouse (2010 • 1,015)
Katie Martineau (2017 • 1,779)

FRANKLIN
Larry Dustin (1965)
Bryan Baker (1974)
Dan Sylvester (1983)
Michelle Brusseau (1987)
Shelley Winters (1993)
Karen Malsbenden (1994)
Bryan Aube (1997)
Nate Bickford (1999)
Nicole Parenteau (2001)
Mason Roberge (2007)
Dana Bean (2016)
Kenny Torres (2016)
Jayden Torres (2018)

GOFFSTOWN
David Wildman (1,396 • 1965)
Richard Fields (1,044 • 1966)
Gregory Pappas (1,091 • 1971)
Walter Foote (1,145 • 1974)
John Stone (1,140 • 1978)
Kelly Walsh (1,780 • 2021)

HINSDALE
Mike Kerylow (1957)
Del Blanchette (1957)
Sleepy Brooks (1958)
Gary Beaman (1963)
Joe Sarsfield (1972)
Larry Scott (1975)
Jason Dillon (1994)
Julie Messenger (2000)
Steve Deschenes (2001)
Allison Scott (2014)
Skylar Bonnette (2014)
Matthew Boggio (2016)
Skyler LeClair (2017)
Angelina Nardolillo (2019)

HOPKINTON
Bruce Johnson (1970)
Royal Ford (1992)
Evan Johnson (1992)
Jeff Adams (1994)
Beth Beckett (1995)
Amy West (2001)
Sarah Wofsy (2002)
Katie Barthelmes (2004)
Ryan Callahan (2004)
Kelly Flynn (2007)
Hannah Richard (2010)
Kevin Newton-Delgad0 (2020)

KEARSARGE
Tom Brayshaw (2,117 • 1989)
Steve Lavolpicelo (2,372 • 1999)
Bob Allen (1978)
David Bartlett (1989)
Stephanie Manus (1990)
Peter Lavolpicelo (1995)
Debbie Taylor (1995)
Tracy Fuller (1998)
Christine Gassman (1999)
Kristen Lucek (2002)
Andrew Ferreira (2006)
Marilyn Ferreira (2007)
Tommy Johnson (2018)
Tayler Mattos (2018)

KEENE
Jeff Holmes (1,275 • 1983)
Jim McGilvery (1,044 • 1992)
Tomy Depalo (1,235 • 1999)
Pat Luptowski (1,299 • 2007)
Camryn Warner (1,000 • 2010)
Ashley Clough (1,271 • 2012)
Logan Galanes (1,112 • 2017)

KINGSWOOD
Greg Dollarhide (1,057 • 1981)
Craig Vezina (1,750 • 1992)
Nicole LaBelle (1,443 • 1993)
Josh Tetreault (1,578 • 2000)
Adrian Gross (1,218 • 2006)
Kohl Meyers (2012)
Ethan Arnold (2022)

LIN-WOOD
Stanley Dovholuk (1976)
Natalie Haynes (1986)
Jamie Bourassa (1987)
Ryan Jones (1996)
Jeremy Nelson (1996)
Ross Macauley (2002)
Sarah LeClerc (2004)
Randi Mackay (2007)
Brandon Harrington (2018)

LISBON
Tom White (1973)
Russ Hubbard (1978)
Mike Hill (1979)
Linda Clough (1981)
Nikke Knighton (1988)
Steve Santa (1995)
Erica Elliott (1998)
Jeff Perham (1998)
Ed Natti (2003)
Tom White (2004)
Mike White (2007)
Jennifer White (2009)
Josh Woods (2018)

MASCENIC
Barbara Gerry (1981)
Kevin Rines (1989)
Heather Shaw (1990)
Brycen Blaine (1991)
Shannon Cunningham (1995)
Jason Starr (1999)
Chris Alix (2000)
Jared Stauffeneker (2014)
Daimon Gibson (2017)
Sam Stauffeneker (2019)
Shelby Babin (2020)

MASCOMA
Roger Cattabriga (1970)
James Martin (1980)
Jennifer Carter (1989)
Lynne Sullivan (1990)
Shannon Farrell (1990)
Aimee Beliveau (1991)
Joshua Chapman (1995)
Silas Ayres (2001)
Kati Lary (2002)
Katie Arey (2004)
Joy Depalo (2004)
Megan Evans (2004)
Tonya Young (2,012 • 2006)
Matt Pollard (2007)
Josh Poland (2009)
Alex Schwarz (2017)
Ben Seiler (2021)

MERRIMACK VALLEY
Laurie Moran (1,349 • 1985)
David Huckins Jr (1,479 • 1989)
Scott Drapeau (2,260 • 1991)
Brian Huckins (1,174 • 1994)
Brad Huckins (1,257 • 1999)
Greg Carbone (1,125 • 2001)
Ethan Lavoie (1,172 • 2002)
Amanda Wells (1,070 • 2005)
Alicia Jensen (1,031 • 2005)
Megan Hardiman (1,049 • 2011)
Justin Abbott (1,010 • 2012)
Abby Grandmaison (1,034 • 2018)
Carly Huckins (1,085 • 2019)

MOULTONBOROUGH
Matthew Swedberg (1,722 • 1987)
Lanette Burrows (1,078 • 1994)
Todd Engle (1,047 • 1994)
Marinda Cahoon (1,302 • 1996)
Ben Hallgren (1,132 • 1996)
Dan Ringelstein (1,181 • 1996)
Phil Cowels (1,084 • 2006)
Kevin Eisenberg (1,231 • 2009)
Drew Forsbert (1,077 • 2009)
Marcus Swedberg (1,090 • 2012)
Reese Swedberg (1,164 • 2018)

NEWMARKET
Jeff Monroe (1976)
Tom Nelson (1979)
Ralph Longa (1980)
Randy Edgerly (1986)
Kristine Gorski (1992)
Matt Gordon (1995)
Allyson Benvenuti (2001)
Chad Mastin (2002)
Duncan Szeliga (2005)
Curtis Williams (2009)
Christian Hawkins (2013)
Anthony Senesombath (2018)

NUTE
Jim Damon
Bruce Regan
Steve Burrows
Al Chiasson
Scott Burrows
Julie Donlon (2,502)
David Burrows (2,845)
Stacy Dube
Matt Cloutier
Stephen Lacasse
Shannon St. Lawrence
Conner Bradway

OYSTER RIVER
Steve Bamford (1960)
Randy Kinzly (1977)
Pat Galvin (1981)
Julie Sasner (1984 • 1,143)
Johanna Michel (1986)
John Freiermuth (1988)
Pat Casey (1989)
Jennifer Friel (1993)
Keith Friel (2,148 • 1996)
Greg Friel (1997)
Mike Casey (1999)
Jeremy Friel (2001)
Brittney Cross (2003 • 1,008)
Rick Laughton (2006)
Jilliane Friel (2009 • 1,136)
Danielle Walczak (2011 • 1,191)
Joe Morrell (2020)

PEMBROKE
Rick Morrill (1,290 • 1965)
Craig Keeler (1,255 • 1972)
Mark Yeaton (1,596 • 1973)
Steve Bodi (1,380 • 1976)
Alicia Young (1,016 • 1981)
Jim Sherman (1,021 • 1983)
Mike Drouin (1,198 • 1985)
Matt Alosa (2,575 • 1991)
Leslie Menard (1,048 • 1994)
Chris Barker (1,333 • 2002)
Kelly Thomas (1,202 • 2006)
Alex Hall (1,617 • 2009)
Matt Persons (1,080 • 2013)
Pat Welch (1,907 • 2014)
Noah Cummings (1,122 • 2019)
Sean Menard (1,087 • 2019)

PITTSFIELD
Kevin Riel (1970)
Jeff Jones (1972)
Tom Boyd (1976)
Krista Hast (1980)
Fred Hast (1981)
Mike Mitchell (1981)
Josh Lank (1990)
Wylie Mousseau (1994)
Michelle Meader (1996)
Tony Martinez (1997)
Dan Chapman (2000)
Nikki Hill (2006)
Sean Kryander (2006)
Chad Fennessey (2010)
Ben Hill (2011)
Donovan Emerson (2012)
Xenthios Cyr (2017)
Cam Darrah (2018)

PORTSMOUTH
James Best (1,161 points • 1984)
Strider Sulley (1,091 • 1989)
Aaron DeGraffe (1,129 • 2002)
John Mulvey (1,299 • 2009)
Amy Kinner (1,061 • 1995)
Andrea Herold (1,166 • 2001)
Libby Underwood (1,253 • 2017)
Joey Glynn (1,068 • 2017)
Cody Graham (1,440 • 2018)
Alex Tavares (1,030 • 2019)

PORTSMOUTH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
Cassaundra Thorpe (2004)
Alicia Long (2006)
Lauren Andrews (2008)
Bryson Lund (2020)

PROFILE
Kelley Grautski (1,262 • 1983)
Kim Derrington (1,335 • 1987)
Brian Mcguigan (1,188 • 1989)
Gregg Dixon (1,242 • 1990)
Kris Hultgren (1,136 • 1995)
Justin Stroup (1,109 • 2002)
Kate Ramsey (1,104 • 2003)
Julia Houghtaling (1,391 • 2004)

PROSPECT MOUNTAIN (formerly Alton)
Frank Messier
Mike Lee
Jim Murray
Diane DeJager
Amy Birdsey
Pam Blackadar
Chris Irvin
Keri Pelletier
Heather Swabowicz
Kelly Lord
Eric O’Brien
Matt Pelletier
Ben Locke
Zach Christy
Terese Hopper

ST. THOMAS
Fran McNally (1964)
Terry Casey (1967)
Katie O’Keefe (1999)
Matt McLaughlin (2008)
Lindsay Towle (2018)
Andrew Cavanaugh (2019)

SOMERSWORTH
Chuck Favolise (1976)
Marc Roy (1979)
Jim Perron (1982)
Kyle Hodsdon (1984)
Diane Soule (1991)
John Coggeshall (1994)
Larry Francoeur Jr. (1997)
Melissa Heon (2000)
Katelyn Rideout (2002)
Rachel Hill (2013)
Bryton Early (2018)

SOUHEGAN
Rushmie Kalke (1995)
Courtney Banghart (1996)
Jesse Lynch (1996)
Jackie Lippe (1997)
Julie McLaurin (2003)
Jane White (2012)
Brandon Len (2013)
Mia Len (2018)

SPAULDING
Brad Therrien (1,700 • 1970)
Luke Croteau (1,595 • 2008)
Greg Lacasse (1,434 • 2001)
Tammy Fowler (1,299 • 2003)
Denny Hodgdon (1,236 • 1964)
Tiffany Bryant (1,194 • 1991)
Jacin Demers (1,107 • 1997)
Kelly Donohue (1,052 • 1997)
Deb LaValley (1,044 • 2009)
Dominic Paradis (1.098 • 2013)
Arie Breakfield (1,317 • 2019)

STRATFORD
Josh Stone (1993)
Troy Burns (1993)
Eric Hurlbert (1,780 • 1994)

SUNAPEE
David Muzzey (1986)
Beth Field (1988)
Trisha Shepard (1991)
Jennifer Colby (1995)
David Colby (1996)
Heather Wilkie (1997)
Meghan Wilkie (2001)
Jillian Hurd (2006)
Shawn Carpenter (2007)
Stephanie Larpenter (2009)
Liza Bourdon (2012)
Erika Waterman (2014)
Isaiah Chappell (2015)
Katie Frederick (2015)
Matt Tenney (2016)
Lexie Hamilton (2016)
Faith Larpenter (2017)
Sydney Clark (2017)

WILTON-LYNDEBOROUGH
Tom Conrad (1,058 • 1974)
Judy Harrison (1,258 • 1980)
Dean Larpenter (1,569 • 1982)
Steve Claire (1,212 • 1987)
Shauna Carter (1,297 • 1990)
Mike McMurray (1,780 • 1991)
Chris Jacob (1,034 • 1993)
DJ Garnham (1,040 • 1998)
Dave Sherman (1,472 • 2005)
Stephen Chin (1,037 • 2008)
Jordan Litts (1,116 • 2015)
Trey Carrier (1,242 • 2017)
Jack Schwab (1,241 • 2020)

WINDHAM
Clairee Putnam (2014)
Kaleigh Walsh (2018)
Sarah Dempsey (2021)

WINNISQUAM
Reeve Tracy (1955)
Bill Atherton (1965)
Tom Walsh (1967)
Mark Lavigne (1977)
Tim Nash (1,448 • 1984)
Raegan Jenkins (1,110 • 1991)
Matt McPhearson (1,155 • 2004)
Heidi Miller (1,164 • 2007)
Christian Serrano (1,585 • 2016)
Kyle Mann (1,022 • 2019)
Philip Nichols (1,051 • 2021)

WOODSVILLE
Ken Kinder (1,060 • 1986)
Jamie Walker (1,126 • 1988)
Chad Paronto (1,133 • 1993)
Ryan Ackerman (1,198 • 1999)
Jarrett Bemis (1,111 • 2016)
Cam Tenney-Burt (2022)

Aiden Hefferon: At the point of a ‘Topper turnaround

By Mike Whaley

SOMERSWORTH – Last year was a down year in many ways for the Somersworth High School boys basketball team. The young Hilltoppers, led by sophomores, went a Covid-19 shortened 1-9, losing in the opening round of the Division III tournament to St. Thomas Aquinas.

Coach Leon Shaw believes that was an aberration and that Somersworth has the necessary personnel to return to form, fitting of its winning tradition.

The ‘Toppers have won six state basketball championships since the 1960s. They captured Class I titles under late coaching legend Ed Labbe in 1969 and 1979; went undefeated to capture the 1984 Class I crown, coached by Larry Francoeur, after back-to-back runners-up finishes, and then in 2005 got back to the top again in Class M/Division III, guided by John Langlois.

In recent years, the success has continued. In 2011, Lorne Lucas coached the team to the D-III title, while in the five years preceding last year, Rob Fauci was at the reins as the Hilltoppers made four trips in a row to at least the D-III semis, winning the whole enchilada in 2018.

Shaw feels this team, which is led by a trio of juniors – Aiden Hefferon, Jeff DeKorne and Dante Guillory – has the potential to get Somersworth back to the top tier again.

Hefferon, a six-foot junior point guard, is the key. Early in this season, he has already displayed his vast potential as one of D-III’s top scorers (20.5 ppg), although the ‘Toppers are off to a lukewarm start with a 2-2 mark.

“He’s been handling every challenge that I’ve given him so far,” Shaw said. Hefferon is ready to set into that rarified air with previous all-state players like Bryton Early and Evan Gray, who led the ‘Toppers to the 2018 title.

Shaw said that even before Hefferon was in high school, townspeople were speaking about him in the same sentence with Early and Gray. There has been that kind of expectation.

“He’s had to deal with everyone saying that since he was in seventh and eighth grade,” Shaw said. “‘Wait until Aiden gets here.’ I don’t have to put any pressure on him because everyone in the community is already looking at Aiden as the next marquee player.”

Shaw’s preseason speech to Hefferon was pretty simple: “We’ll probably win or lose based on you.”

Hefferon, who grew up watching Early and Gray play, has embraced that role. Watching those two former stars “definitely inspired me for my future years,” he said. “Watching them, they were the face of Somersworth. I tried to learn from them; seeing how they pushed their teammates. Little stuff that they did off and on the court. I just followed them.”

It’s been a growing process. As a freshman, Hefferon saw time off the bench for a team that advanced to the D-III semifinals. “That was game-changing and fast-paced,” he said. “I loved it. I loved how fast the game was at the varsity level. I definitely had some things I needed to work on.”

Last year was by far the most difficult challenge. “We were focusing on a lot of things,” he said. “It wasn’t just basketball.”

Covid was the X factor. Players were constantly getting sick. He recalls going to some practices with only five or six players in the gym. “We couldn’t run full drills sometimes,” Hefferon said. 

It was a tough stretch for Hefferon who tried to keep his mind in a good place by focusing on basketball, but he admits stressing out over covid.

The team had no trouble offensively, but defense was a different story. Hefferon said they struggled on defense because other teams were able to push them around physically. They had trouble coping with bigger, taller players.

It’s been a point of emphasis going forward, one that is a work in progress. Shaw said two things that need to get better are defensive rebounding and getting back to defend opposing transition offense. “It’s little things we need to improve,” he said.

Which should come with time.

Hefferon will be at the forefront of that renaissance – the point man leading the way.

“Going into every game, (opposing teams) are probably going to put their best defender on (him),” coach Shaw said. “Every game we need you to score at least 20 points. You have to have close to 10 assists a game.”

Hefferon has delivered for the most part. After an overall offensive off night at Conant in the opener (a 56-42 loss), he has risen to the challenge. In a 78-60 win over Raymond on Dec. 14, he nearly had a quadruple double with 34 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists and nine steals.

He followed that up with 20 points and six steals in a 69-51 loss to Winnisquam and 21 points, 10 steals and five boards in a 66-62 win over Berlin.

DeKorne, the quarterback for the state championship football team, has been a solid No. 2 scoring option, averaging 14.5 ppg. He had 21 points in the win over Berlin, and 17 points and 13 boards against Raymond.

Hefferon may need to get to a higher level as the Hilltoppers have a brutal stretch looming ahead in January with difficult games with Campbell, Gilford, St. Thomas and Mascenic.

“Those teams are in the top eight,” Shaw said. “We need to come out of the positive end of wins and losses.”

How the Hilltoppers do will likely rest on Hefferon’s shoulders. “He plays well enough in every game to usually surpass who is guarding him,” Shaw said. “But when he gets irritated, he puts it at a level that is equal to a Bryton or an Evan.”

That is Shaw’s next challenge. “(Aiden) needs to be at that level more often,” the coach said. “Being better than the guy in front of you is great. But how about we be way better than the guy in front of us every time we touch the ball.”

Hefferon is ready to get the Hilltoppers back to the top. He wants to be that guy leading the way. “I always make sure if (my teammates) make a mistake that they’re all good and I make mistakes too,” he said. “No one cares. Work hard on defense. You can get the ball right back. If you shoot an airball, I don;t care. I’ve missed eight shots in a row and I keep on shooting. Leave that behind you. Keep on moving forward.”

That’s the way to success. “I just play at 100 percent,” Hefferon said. “I know I have to play a big role. I always try to get my teammates involved.”

But when Somersworth needs a score, Hefferon knows he has to be that guy. “I’m willing to step into that role,” he said. “I know I need to do the little things. On defense I need to put a body on a guy. I need to go up for rebounds. It’s not just scoring.”

RIM NOTES: Since 1950, Somersworth has appeared in 11 championship games and won six state titles. The first was in 1969, a 66-56 win in Class I over Milford. That was followed by the 1979 title win in I over Pembroke, 77-51; the 1984 perfect 1984 crown, also in I, over Pembroke, 55-51. … Three Class M/D-III championships came in 2005 (55-48 over Conant); 2011 over Bow, 45-39, and 2018 over  Campbell, 53-38. … There was a little bit of controversy with the 2005 win. One of that team’s stars, DJ Gregoire, transferred to Somersworth from Kingswood after the Christmas break, raising questions about his eligibility. He played the rest of the season with the ‘Toppers, and then after the championship win, finished up and graduated from Farmington High School. … Somersworth’s 1,000-point scorers: Chuck Favolise (1976), Marc Roy (1979), Jim Perron (1982), Kyle Hodsdon (1985), Diane Soule (1991), John Coggeshall (1994), Larry Francoeur Jr. (1997), Melissa Heon (2000), Katelyn Rideout (2002), Rachel Hill (2013), Bryton Early (2018).

Lorne Lucas: Handling challenges in life, on the court

By Mike Whaley

ROCHESTER – Lorne Lucas knows all about challenges. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998, it’s a battle he’s taken seriously. It’s also one that he’s kept private.

Last year, however, with the escalation of Covid-19, he had to go public with his affliction. It affected his job as a wellness and health teacher at Rochester Middle School and head boys basketball coach at Spaulding High School.

His doctors said because of the MS, he could not be in a school setting because he is a high-risk individual. So he taught remotely until April and coached the Spaulding team from his home in York, Maine, for the entire, albeit short, season – from January to March.

Now he’s back in person, his 21st year as a head basketball coach in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and his second at Spaulding.

Lucas, who turns 52 shortly, was fully vaccinated by the end of March, at which point his doctor gave him the greenlight to go back to teaching at RMS in early April. This past summer he was back on the basketball court coaching the Red Raiders during a summer league.

“It’s funny,” Lucas said. “I showed up in April. By April people are definitely pretty tired in a regular year, never mind a covid year. My perspective of being so excited to be in the building and everybody else being ‘oooooh.’”

Lucas laughs. “I was like ‘Let’s go,’” he said. “They’re going, ‘Come on Mr. Lucas, relax.’ Being away from something you love, that just fuels your fire. It makes you realize how important that stuff is to you.”

The same with basketball.

“That’s really what happened to me this year,” Lucas said. “I haven’t taken for granted one minute of being on the floor or being in practice, having our games or summer league.”

Ah yes, summer league. Lucas was ecstatic to be back coaching basketball in person. “I was like ‘let’s go,” he said. “It was great fun being with other coaches. Matt Fennessy (Dover’s coach) was great. He told me how awesome it was to have me back on the sidelines. Things like that were obviously very nice.”

But, again, challenging. During a summer league game in Portsmouth, Lucas said he felt overwhelmed. “It was moving so fast,” he said. “I wasn’t ready. It’s not like riding a bike. You can’t just hop right back onto it. The summer really helped me get my feet wet again.”

Of course, Lucas took his greatest pleasure from being back working with the players. “It was so nice to get back in the gym with the kids and work on the game,” he said.

Lucas can’t say enough about the Spaulding players. “They’ll do whatever you ask them,” he said. “They work hard. They’re pushing themselves and being physical. They’ve been great all along. They figured it out last year. But it’s nice to hit the ground running this season.”

Last year was challenging in so many ways for Lucas and the Red Raiders. “It was difficult,” he said. “This may be a surprise to people, but being a coach at the high school level is not always a lot of fun. Get off the floor and there’s all kinds of things you take care of: schedules, grades, parental issues.”

Lucas said you, of course, preface that with the time coaches get to spend on the court with the players. “That’s why we’re all in it because of the players,” he said. “The energy they bring and how hard they work.”

Last year Lucas had none of that.

What he did have was technology that did not allow him to watch practices live and some games were on a delay.

“I had to sit around during practice,” he said. “Especially early on, that was brutal. Knowing they were there and I wasn’t.”

Then Lucas had to watch and break down film, and remotely pass his observations on to the players. “It wasn’t what I dreamed I would be doing ever in my life,” he said.

When it got really challenging, Lucas would remind himself that “I wasn’t the only person in the world who wasn’t doing what he wanted to do. Everybody was sacrificing in some way or form,” he said.

Games were the worst.

Lucas actually talked about that during his first game of the season with the Salem coach. “We have a lot of control as a coach out there calling defenses,” he said. “You can sub, call timeout. There’s so much we can do. I had zero ability to do everything.”

He was at the mercy of technology, which sometimes was on a time delay.

One such instance was a game against Exeter in which the stream was on a small time delay. Lucas would communicate with one of the assistant coaches via text. One text asked for a play for a quick score.

“How the heck am I going to send a play,” Lucas asked himself. He drew it up, took a picture with his phone and sent it. But they never ran the play.

At halftime, Lucas asked why they didn’t use the play. It was a case of the time delay. By the time the assistant received Lucas’s message the play had already happened.

“I’m sitting on my couch or standing and yelling and screaming at the TV like a crazy uncle watching the Patriots. The weirdest thing was that when the game ended, I’m just sitting in my living room. No one in my family wanted to be anywhere near that room.”

Lorne Lucas on remotely coaching last season

During games, Lucas was in his living room following the stream. “I’m sitting on my couch or standing and yelling and screaming at the TV like a crazy uncle watching the Patriots,” he said. “The weirdest thing was that when the game ended, I’m just sitting in my living room. No one in my family wanted to be anywhere near that room.

His wife made it clear that he was screaming louder (at the TV) than she had ever heard him scream when he was physically at a game.

That it worked at all is a tribute to Lucas’s friend, Rob Fauci, who stepped in to do the in-person coaching. A former head coach at Somersworth High school for five years (D-III championship in 2018) and an assistant under Lucas there before that, Fauci had Lucas’s absolute trust.

“If I didn’t have Rob, it wouldn’t have worked,” Lucas said. “He deserves all the credit. I helped. He knew my system in and out. He knew what I was doing. I told everybody: ‘You don’t have to worry about coach Fauci.’”

While Lucas found the remote practices and games trying, he kept his sanity by exercising. In 2017, when his Oyster River team went all the way to the Division II championship game before losing to Hollis-Brookline, Lucas said he was at 285 pounds. Two weeks after the championship loss, he lost a sister to ovarian cancer at age 56. His dad had died young at 51.

“I’m sitting around at 285 pounds and ‘what in the world am I doing?’” he asked himself. That motivated him to lose weight and get healthy. “I did it the right way,” Lucas said. “I exercised. I ate well.”

Essentially trapped in his Maine home, he exercised often. “That’s the best thing you can do to help yourself is to eat well, exercise and take care of your whole body,” Lucas said. “A lot of research shows that’s good for everybody, particularly people with MS. That’s what I did. That helped me get through the day.”

The Lucas family had built a house on a farm in York. Plenty of space. No social distancing issues. “I just couldn’t wait to get outside,” he said. “I can walk the whole farm. I can snowshoe in the winter. It was great. That’s what helped me get through it.”

Lucas has his MS under control. “I’m doing great,” he said. “I had my checkup. My doctor was thrilled. She actually told me I had to put on a little weight.”

The basketball season is going just fine, although Spaulding has yet to win a game. Lucas knew it was going to be an uphill battle with senior forward Jack Sullivan the only player back who saw significant playing from a year ago. Still, the Red Raiders have been in all five games, losing by no more than 11 points.

“We played pretty well,” Lucas said of the first game against Salem, a 59-48 loss. “It was good to see. I didn’t know what to expect with a lot of kids without (varsity) playing time. We played a great first half. The third quarter we kind of fell apart. … It’s going to be a little bit with the young guys.”

Lucas has also noticed a change in his coaching approach. He was able to take a step back and look at people somewhat differently. The remote experience made him even more observant of how the kids are feeling. “Where they are with what I’m asking them to do,” he said. “I was pulling them aside to talk with them.”

He’s also developed a deeper trust with Fauci. “I always knew I could rely on Rob,” Lucas said. “Now even more. We’re the co-coaches of everything. I know I can absolutely rely on him. I let him run parts of practices.”

Lucas has learned not to be so controlling, to be able to rely on other people. “That’s only going to help me long term,” he said. “It’s exhausting when you have to do everything. . I’ve got guys who proved it to me last year that they could help me out.”

That’s more people to help Lucas to deal with the challenges ahead. Challenges that excite Lucas. “That’s what you want in life,” he said. “That’s what makes life interesting.”

For feedback or story ideas, email jamsession@ball603.com.

📸 Meet the Somersworth Hilltoppers

Second-year head coach Leon Shaw and the Somersworth Hilltoppers are 1-1 on the young season and are coming off a 78-60 win over Raymond. The Hilltoppers now host three-straight at home with games versus Winnisquam (Dec. 17), Berlin (Dec. 20) and Prospect Mountain (Dec. 22). Let’s take a minute to meet Coach Shaw’s squad…

NUMBERNAMECLASSPOSITION
0Aiden HefferonJRG
1Ray HollandSRG
2Jeff DekorneJRF
3Dominic StarrJRG
4Frankie Paradis-CollinsFRG
5Alex BrownFRG
8Cameron BrownFRG
10Zephen YoderJRG
11Logan ForrestJRF
13Dezmyn SheppardSRG
23Logan PerreaultSOF
33Thomas ReeseFRG

📰 Opening day is on the way

The wait is almost over. On Friday, December 10th, 84 of the 88 NHIAA boys varsity basketball teams will be in action with 42 games around the state as the 2021-22 season gets underway.

St. Thomas Aquinas hits the road to take on Hillsboro-Deering at 5:30 pm to mark the first official tilt of the new campaign. The Saints and Hillcats last squared off on February 28, 2020 in the regular-season finale as St. Thomas came away with an easy 72-46 victory at home.

Eight other contests tipoff at 6:00 pm, with 24 match-ups at 6:30 pm and nine more at 7:00 pm. It’s the most games on a single day all season long, so there’s no good reason to not get out and catch some local action on Friday night.

See you at the gym.

2021-22 Opening Day Action

DateGameTime/ResultsDivision
Hillsboro-Deering vs St. Thomas AquinasDivision III
Laconia vs Oyster RiverDivision II
Belmont vs BerlinDivision III
Campbell vs Fall MountainDivision III
Gilford vs MonadnockDivision III
Kearsarge vs Mascoma ValleyDivision III
Franklin vs ProfileDivision IV
Exeter vs DoverDivision I
Manchester Memorial vs GoffstownDivision I
Nashua North vs KeeneDivision I
Trinity vs Manchester CentralDivision I
Alvirne vs MerrimackDivision I
Concord vs PinkertonDivision I
Winnacunnet vs PortsmouthDivision I
Spaulding vs SalemDivision I
Nashua South vs TimberlaneDivision I
ConVal vs HanoverDivision II
Pelham vs John StarkDivision II
Coe-Brown vs Manchester WestDivision II
Sanborn vs Merrimack ValleyDivision II
Milford vs PlymouthDivision II
Kingswood vs SouheganDivision II
Conant vs SomersworthDivision III
Newfound vs Prospect MountainDivision III
Raymond vs MascenicDivision III
White Mountains vs WinnisquamDivision III
Littleton vs GorhamDivision IV
Groveton vs Lin-WoodDivision IV
Holy Family vs NewmarketDivision IV
Derryfield vs NuteDivision IV
Pittsburg-Canaan vs WoodsvilleDivision IV
Bedford vs Bishop GuertinDivision I
Londonderry vs WindhamDivision I
Bow vs Bishop BradyDivision II
Pembroke vs LebanonDivision II
Hopkinton vs NewportDivision III
Portsmouth Christian vs FarmingtonDivision IV
Mount Royal vs HinsdaleDivision IV
Wilton-Lyndeborough vs PittsfieldDivision IV
Epping vs SunapeeDivision IV