Sports 12-06-2012

WHS boys hoop team hosts Malden Tuesday in opener

It will be a new coach and a new era for the Winthrop High boys basketball program when the Vikings take to the floor Tuesday evening in the Holland Gymnasium to host Malden of the Greater Boston League in a non-league encounter at 7:00.

“This has been a very exciting time and everyone is looking forward to the start of the season,” said the new coach, Winthrop resident Mike DiMarino. DiMarino is taking over the reins of the boys hoop program from Dave Brown, who stepped down at the end of last season after guiding the Viking boys to numerous Northeastern Conference South divisional titles and state tourney appearances over the past decade, culminating with a Division 4 state championship in 2011.

But all of that is ancient history, and the 2012-13 Vikings will set out to make their own mark in Winthrop basketball annals starting Tuesday.

DiMarino’s first Winthrop squad will be led by a trio of seniors, point guard Josh Babb, forward Mike Lessard, and small forward Ervin DeJesus. Jeff Laguerre (a starter and one of the Vikings’ top scorers last season), Max Floyd, and Robert Ascolillo comprise the other three seniors on the team.

A quintet of juniors and two sophomores, Cody Wasson, Curtis Lockett, Adam Holden, Jake Ciudinha, Bobby Fisher, Brendan Van Dalinda, and Vinnie Sparacino, round out the 13 members of the varsity squad.

Winthrop will be challenged in the height department, with Floyd at 6-2 topping the front court depth chart, but DiMarino will be looking for his team to utilize its speed, quickness, and defensive skills to offset the lack of height.

“We’ve played very well in our scrimmages thus far,” said the coach, who took his charges for an overnight visit to the Cape to play against Falmouth on the weekend and then competed against Maconomet and Arlington Catholic in a tri-scrimmage Tuesday. “We’ll be pressing on defense and using our heart and aggressiveness to counterbalance any height disadvantages we may encounter.”

Winthrop will meet Revere in the North Shore Jamboree Friday evening and then will host No. Reading in the WHS gym Saturday morning at 10:00.

“This is a great group of boys and I’m very encouraged at how things are going,” added DiMarino, who is a Middle School teacher in the Revere school system. “This is a great town in which to be a basketball coach. Winthrop has a great history and a great program and everybody has been very supportive,” he continued. “We had 55 boys try out for the team and we had to make some tough decisions, which never is easy, but of course we couldn’t keep everybody.”

After Tuesday’s season opener with Malden, the Vikings will travel to Swampscott Friday evening.

Girls hockey team opens season Wednesday

The Winthrop Lady Bulldog ice hockey team, the cooperative team among Winthrop, Saugus, Revere, and Lynn, will open its 2012-2013 season Wednesday at Medford.

“The girls are working hard and looking forward to a great year,” said head coach Anthony Martucci. His Lady Bulldogs, who have a heavy tilt toward Winthrop with many local girls on the roster, have enjoyed great success in recent years under Martucci’s direction,  having captured the North Division title of the Girls Eastern Mass. Ice Hockey League the past few seasons and advancing far in the state tournament.

Martucci will be skating a young team, as there are only three seniors on the squad, led by Captain Kara Donati from Saugus. Assistant captains for the Lady Bulldogs are sophomore Caroline McKinnon of Winthrop and junior Cat Salvati of Saugus.

The other two seniors are Erin O’Leary of Winthrop and Tori Matos of Revere. O’Leary, who was the WHS girls soccer captain this past season, only started playing hockey a year ago, but has improved greatly. “Erin started behind everybody else, but she’s really come on strong,” said Martucci. “She also is invaluable to us in the locker room because of her leadership skills.”

Among the key members of the 2012-13 edition of the Lady Bulldogs will be their eighth grade goaltenders, Gretchen Howard (who split the goaltending duties last season) and Kayla Yarrow, both of whom are from Winthrop.

Other Winthrop girls who figure to play key roles for the Lady Bulldogs will be ninth grader Juliana Kennedy, one of the top defenseman in the league; the English sisters, Flora (a ninth grader) and Emma (a seventh grader), both of who are forwards; ninth  grade forward Nicole Puccillo, who played regularly last season; and 10th grader Annie Mahoney, who has moved from defense to the forward line.

Tenth grader Kasey Harris and ninth grader Gabby Kenniston, both from Lynn, also will see a lot of action for Martucci’s squad.

“We’re excited to get underway,” said Martucci. “Overall we have a very young team, but we have a lot of experience despite our youth and strong leadership from our upperclassmen.”

Girls basketball team aims for strong season

The Winthrop High girls basketball team appears poised to return to the ranks of  the elite teams of the Northeastern Conference this season.

Coach Ignacio Oyola’s squad has reached the state tournament in each of the past two seasons, compiling identical 8-14 records (the Lady Vikings qualified for the post season thanks to the Sullivan Rule which permits a team to qualify if it has a .500 record against opponents from its own state divisional rating). However, Oyola and his crew are looking both to finish with an overall winning record and to make a run for a top spot in the Northeastern Conference.

“We have high expectations, but we know we are going to have to work hard to achieve them,” said Oyola, who is in his third year at the helm of the Lady Viking program after serving as an assistant coach to Dave Brown for many years with the WHS boys program.

Leading the way for the 2012-13 edition of the Lady Vikings will be senior captain Alyssa Mackey. Alyssa has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, (a knee injury and a concussion), but appears primed for a big senior year. “Alyssa always gives 100 per cent and leads by example,” said Oyola. “She’s one of our top defenders who gives our opponents fits.”

Other seniors on the team are Liana Ferullo and Temison Meggison. “Temison is one of the best rebounders in the league,” said Oyola. “We’ll be counting on her to be a force underneath.” Temison just this week had a soft cast removed because of a hairline hand fracture, but has been given full clearance to play.

“Liana Ferullo has the highest basketball IQ on our team,” noted Oyola. “She is our smartest defensive player and always knows where to be.”

Junior Ashelyne Babb, who enjoyed an outstanding sophomore campaign in her first year with the Lady Viking program, will be counted upon to build upon her success of 2011-12. “Ashelyne played a lot of ball in the off season and has improved greatly,”said Oyola. “We’re expecting big things from her as our point guard.”

Sophomore Kristen Siscamanis, who came into her own as a 5-10 freshman last year, figures to be a pivotal figure in any success that Winthrop might enjoy this season. “Kristen is another hard worker who did a lot in the off season,” said Oyola. “She put in a lot of time in the weight room, which should help her improve her rebounding and defense.”

Junior Jen Adamson, who made the move up from the junior varsity last season, will play a key role for Oyola’s squad. “Jen had the highest field goal percentage on the team last year,” said the coach. “She takes good shots and makes them. She also is a great defender.”

Fellow junior Theresa Jones has provided a lot of offense for Winthrop in the past. “Theresa’s one of our best shooters and has improved her defense,” said Oyola. “We’re looking for her to have a big year.”

Rounding out the varsity girls who will see their share of action are the Tsiotis twins, Nikki and Polli, both of whom are sophomores. “Both girls played a lot of ball in the off season and are ready to play big roles for us,” said Oyola, who noted that Nikki “probably is our best defender on the ball.”

Freshman Nina Bartlett, who stands in at 5-10, also could see some playing time. though she’ll be playing mostly with the junior varsity. “Nina is a real presence underneath who has great hands and a nice touch,” said Oyola.

Sophomore Maura Lanza, who has been sidelined with a soccer injury, junior Carly Corbett-Frank, and junior Rachelle Watkins are three other girls who will play with the JV, but whom Oyola mentioned as possible contributors as the season progresses.

In addition, an eighth grader, Ally Love, has been practicing with the varsity, though as an eighth grade student, she is not eligible to be placed on the roster.  However, Ally is among those who represent a bright future for the WHS girls program.

Oyola and his crew traveled to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend to play against the Martha’s Vineyard High School team in a scrimmage on Saturday. The team stayed overnight for what Oyola termed a “nice team-bonding experience that will pay dividends in the coming season.”

The assistant coach for the MV team is none other than Winthrop High girls hoop legend Maureen McManus, who has been living on the island for some time while helping to operate her mother Carol’s bakery and restaurant  business. After a stellar career at WHS in which she led the Lady Vikings to a state title in 1983 (her exploits from that 1982-83 season will be chronicled each week in the Sun Transcript’s Through the Years in Sports column), Maureen went to Lafayette College, a Division 1 program, where she is acknowledged as the greatest women’s basketball player in that school’s history. She holds the career record for points (1813) and points in a season (626) and led her team to two straight league titles, including a 24-6 record in her senior year. Maureen is one of only 125 Lafayette athletes, men and women, to have been named to the school’s Hall of Fame.

The current Lady Vikings will resume their pre-season scrimmage schedule Saturday in the North Shore Jamboree at Lynn Classical. They will open their season next Friday, December 14, hosting Swampscott, the defending NEC champion and perennial NEC power.

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