Our very own Mike Whaley is working on a new book project on National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Basketball in New England. Last week his N.E. journey took him to Boston and Fisher College, the last NAIA school in New England. Whaley interviewed Fisher players, coaches and administrators, and also got to attend the Fisher vs. Vermont Tech men’s game, the first college hoop game in the nation, which tipped off at midnight. Fisher overcame a pair of 10-point deficits in the second half to tie the game and then won in overtime over Vermont Tech, 100-99, last Thursday morning at historic Hellenic College’s Pappas Gymnasium – former practice facility of the Boston Celtics in the 1970s and 1980s.
Christian Finney was the hero for the Falcons. He scored a layup at the buzzer, gathering in a three-quarter court baseball pass from Ke’Andre Penceal to force overtime, and then converted a three-point play with 11 seconds to play in OT to put Fisher ahead for good. The Knights were unable to get off a shot to win the game in the waning seconds.
Dakota Gillespie and Penceal led Fisher with 29 and 25 points, respectively. Jalen Anderson added 16 and Finney tossed in 15. Tyler Allen led Tech with 27 points.
Whaley’s book project explores NAIA basketball in the region from its start in the late 1940s to today with interviews with players, coaches, administrators and fans. New Hampshire NAIA colleges are featured in the book, most notably Franklin Pierce University, Keene State, New England College and old Nathaniel Hawthorne College in Antrim. Whaley’s travels have also taken him to Bangor and Rockport, Maine; Keene, NH, and the New Haven and Hartford areas of Connecticut. NBA coaches Stan Van Gundy and Steve Clifford have NAIA New England roots that figure prominently in the book. Whaley plans to release the book – tentatively titled “Floor Burns” – in the summer/fall of 2024. Whaley can be contacted at email@example.com.