Sports 03-19-2015

WHS Sports through the years

20 years ago this week:

WHS boys basketball team won Division 3 state championship

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the Winthrop High boys basketball team won the Division III state title with an incredible tourney run that featured some of the most amazing victories in the annals of Winthrop High sports.

Winthrop entered the tourney as the number three seed in the D-3 North after a highly successful regular season (16-4 overall record) in which they finished second in the Northeastern Conference — when the NEC was comprised of a single, 10-team league — behind only Salem, which was led by future Big 10 Player of the Year, Scoonie Penn.

The most notable feature of the Vikings that season was their lack of height. Just about every team they met could put someone on the floor who was taller than any Viking. The D-3 South champ, Cohasset, had seven players who were taller than the tallest Winthrop hoopman.

But what Coach Peter Grimes’s squad lacked in size, they more than made up for in overall athleticism, shooting skill, basketball IQ, and, most importantly, unselfish teamwork. They were the equivalent of this year’s undefeated Kentucky team — relentlessly pushing the ball up the court to create 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 breaks and then finding the open man for a layup or open look at the basket.

They lived by the creed espoused by present Harvard basketball coach Tom Amaker: “I don’t care who scored the most points. What matters is who is responsible for the most points.”

On any given night a different Viking might lead the team in scoring and be the hero for the night. Tri-captains Todd Doherty, Paul Struzziero, and David Lynch sophomore Lawone Bennett, and juniors Anthony Poto and James Buono were the big guns, and capable reserves included Chris Beattie, Ricky O’Brien, present WHS girls hoop coach Ignacio Oyola, Joe Long, Robbie Crowell, Matt Murphy, Danny Davis, and Russell Howell.

“I don’t know whom you could single out,” said Grimes about his crew after they had won the state title game over Sutton in typical fashion with four Vikings hitting for double figures and a fifth adding nine points. “It’s been that way all year.”

The Vikings opened their state title quest with victories over Northeast Regional and Stoneham. That brought them to a D-3 North semifinal matchup with NEC rival Swampscott. Although Winthrop had beaten the Big Blue in both of their regular-season encounters, the contest stood at 53-52 in favor of Swampscott late in thee game after the Blue had rallied from a 39-27 deficit at the half.

However, in what would prove to be their calling card in their title run, the Vikings maintained their composure and rallied in the face of adversity. A bucket by Buono put Winthrop in the lead, 54-43, and then a three point play by Lynch made it 58-53, from where the Vikings held on for the win.

In the D-3 North final, Winthrop faced another NEC rival, defending state champ Lynn Classical. The Vikings similarly had defeated the Rams in both of their regular-season meetings, but facing the taller Rams meant Winthrop would have some match-up difficulties. However, the Vikings played their typical, fast-paced style and ran the Rams ragged. Poto, who had 15 points, went on a  scoring spree late in the first half, scoring nine points to Classical’s two, to boost Winthrop into a 24-17 advantage at the half. Classical would get as close as 38-34 with three minutes to play, but Bennett (game-high 19 points) then took charge, scoring nine points in a Viking outburst that propelled Winthrop into a 48-38 lead en route to a 62-47 triumph.

With the D-3 North title in their pockets, the Vikings then made a mid-week trek to Boston Garden to face a vaunted Cohasset Skipper team, the D-3 South champ, that featured players who stood at 6’-7”, 6’-5”, 6’-4”, and 6’-3”, among others.

Indeed, Cohasset took control from the outset, jumping out to a 9-0 lead thanks to some inside buckets. Cohasset continued to utilize it size superiority to great advantage, moving ahead by as much as 14 (27-13) and holding a 35-23 advantage at the half.

The Vikings then pulled out all the stops after the intermission, applying relentless defensive pressure in an effort to wear down Cohasset’s big men. The Vikings sliced the Cohasset advantage to 43-40, only to see the Skippers go on a 9-0 run to move out to a 52-40 lead that stood at a seemingly safe 55-46 lead with just over a minute to go.

But that’s when some Viking magic — and luck — stepped to the fore. Poto got Winthrop rolling with a jumper, and after a Cohasset player missed the front end of a one-and-one, Lynch sank two free throws to make it 55-50. Another miss by a Skipper on a front end sent Bennett flying down the court for a lay-up to close the gap to 55-52 with 36 seconds to play.

Another Winthrop intentional foul — and another Cohasset missed free throw — set the stage for a dramatic three-point shot by Doherty off a pass from Poto that tied the score and sent the game into overtime.

“I just knew I could make that shot,” said Doherty. “I wasn’t even thinking. It just went in. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was six or seven — making that last-second shot in the Boston Garden. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

In the first overtime, Lynch donned the hero’s cape, sinking a bucket with 18 seconds to go to even matters at 59-59 and send the game into a second OT.

Winthrop took a 65-61 lead down the stretch of the second OT session, but this time it was Cohasset’s turn to create some drama, tying matters at 65-65 to force a third extra period.

With the teams deadlocked at 69-69 with just over a minute left, Bennett drained two free throws to boost the Vikings into the lead once and for all. After Cohasset failed to score on its next possession, Doherty was intentionally fouled with nine seconds on the clock. Todd calmly sank both shots to put the game on ice and send Winthrop to the state championship game that Saturday in the Worcester Centrum against Sutton.

Sutton stood at 22-0 coming into the contest and was labeled as perhaps the best Division III team ever. Sutton had a dominating inside game with forwards who stood at 6’-6” and 6’-5” and a 1000-point shooting guard.

However, the Vikings brought their usual brand of speed-ball and strong outside shooting to Worcester. With the score standing at 40-40 early in the second half, Winthrop went on a 10-0 run to bolt to a 50-40 advantage that Sutton never managed to seriously challenge. Winthrop won the game by a final score of 74-63.

Doherty led the Vikings with 21 points, including five treys, and grabbed nine rebounds in the second half against Sutton’s big men.

Poto hit for 17 points and was a tiger on defense, forcing numerous Sutton turnovers and making five steals. Lynch struck for 15 points and was clutch from the free throw line, sinking 11-of-13 attempts and thwarting any hint of a Sutton comeback down the stretch.

Struzziero chipped in 12 points and sank three treys in the opening minutes of the game to jump-start the Winthrop offense. Bennet added nine points and forced a number of enemy turnovers. Lawone also ignited the Viking fandom with a highlight-reel, behind-the-back pass to Poto for a lay-up. Buono played a key role in the Viking defensive scheme and also had a team-high five assists.

All in all, it was an amazing run by a Winthrop basketball team that showed how a group of five players can be greater than the sum of its individual parts. The 1995 Vikings created memories that will last a lifetime not only for the players themselves, but for every Winthrop fan who was privileged to watch them play.

Off to St. John’s Prep

Youth football star Luke MacPhail to attend school in Danvers

By Cary Shuman

Winthrop resident Luke MacPhail, the top-ranked eighth grade quarterback in the country according to the Offense-Defense Camp based in South Carolina, will attend St. John’s Preparatory High School in Danvers this fall.

Luke, son of John and Lisa MacPhail, has been steadily building a reputation as a premier quarterback in the youth football ranks. Last fall he starred for the Malden Cyclones Patriot Division (no weight-limit) team.

Luke, who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, also excelled in the national spotlight as a quarterback in the All-American Game Jan. 1 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Because of his natural ability and his high rating at each age level in his development, Luke was invited to play in five All-American Games at such famous venues as Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Luke, 13, has been a quarterback since the age of five, competing in the Winthrop Youth Football Program for fourth and fifth grade before moving on to Revere Junior Patriots Pop Warner organization through the ‘B’ level. He played in the Malden program for his final season of youth football and also played for an Everett flag football team that almost qualified for the national tournament.

Malden Cyclones coach Joe Gonzalez said that Luke

came to the team with an impressive set of quarterbacking skills.

“Luke did very well this season – he’s a very smart quarterback who reads defenses very well,” said   “I think he has a superior knowledge of the position to other players his age and he has the potential to be an outstanding high school quarterback. He’s very accurate and gets the ball to the right spot. He’s also an excellent leader on the field. Mentally, he’s the best quarterback I’ve ever had. His intelligence and his ability to read defenses is phenomenal.”

John MacPhail said he began considering high schools for his son when he was in the seventh grade. Luke is an honor roll student in the Winthrop school system.

“The most important thing to us was his academics and his grades,” said John MacPhail. “We were looking at five high schools and we narrowed it down to two, BC High and St. John’s Prep. St. John’s has great facilities. It’s a beautiful campus.”

A 1987 graduate of Winthrop High School, John MacPhail said it was a difficult decision for the family to leave the Winthrop school system. Luke likely would have been a strong candidate for the Vikings’ varsity quarterback position, with three-year starter and NEC All-Star QB Dylan Driscoll graduating this year. He also intends to play hockey and baseball at the Prep.

“It was a tough decision [to not enroll at Winthrop High School],” said MacPhail. “We have so much respect for Sean Driscoll and Mike DeFelice. They’re just two fantastic coaches. I can’t thank the Winthrop Middle School enough for the foundation they have given him. They made my son a better person. It was tough decision but it’s like picking a college – you try to pick the school that’s going to bring the most out of your child.”

Luke, whose favorite pro quarterback is Tom Brady, is excited about attending St. John’s Prep. The head coach at the Prep is former Boston College and NFL quarterback Brian St. Pierre.

“I’m very excited to be going to St. John’s,” said Luke. “I’ve met coach St. Pierre and I look forward to beginning practices with the team this summer.”

“I’m thrilled,” said John MacPhail. “I just want Luke to have the best experience possible for his education. Football is a sport and you don’t know how far he’s going to get with it, but it makes me feel good as a dad that he’s entering an academic program where he’s going to be able to explore opportunities in music, arts, drama, science – so many different avenues and activities.”

From the Press Box

The Year of the Vikings

By Jim Lederman

The ‘Majestic Run’ for the 2014-2015 Lady Vikings – NEC Hoop Champions (20-4) ended on the parquet floor of the Garden – The TD Garden on Tuesday afternoon with a loss to Archbishop Williams.

Captain Kristen Siscamanis stated it best “it was a dram to play in the Garden. We have a great year, I am proud of my team and all we have accomplished.”

The Viking superstar should be named to the All-Scholastic team. Kristen finished a fantastic season with 16 points on the ‘parquet’ floor. The capacity crowd at the garden witnessed Viking Pride and we were all very proud of this team.

Dennis and Gina Murray, two of my favorite football parents, stated, “What a great year for another championship Viking team.

The 2014 NEC football champions undefeated (9-0) in the very strong NEC, the smallest school in the NEC defeating Peabody, Revere, Danvers and Lynn Classical, schools with 3 times the size of Winthrop High School.

The girl’s soccer team reaching the North Fin al and shutting out archrival, St. Mary’s. The Lady Vikings coached by WHS Hall of Fame coach, Tracey Martucci. A WHS graduate coaching Winthrop players.

The hockey team-NEC champions under the tutelage of Dale Dunbar, another WHS graduate, the most respected high school hockey coach in Division II. Winthrop hockey players we don’t recruit out of town athletes!

We salute coaches Sean Driscoll, Dale Dunbar, Tracey Martucci, Anthony ‘Butch’ Martucci and Ignacio Oyola, WHS graduates and coaches, putting Viking teams in the spotlight and the talk of the North Shore!

Let the Games Begin!

Big Stix

The girl’s lacrosse team will be working out soon. Will take a high stick penalty for leaving Angelina Favolaro off my article. The ex-Viking hoop player is assistant girl’s lacrosse coach. Angie is a student at Salem State and has earned her Masters Degree from Dr. Danielle Cadigan at the Pizza Center.

I will preview spring sports when the snow melts. We all survived the long winter watching hockey and “Lady Vikings basketball.

Tourney Notes

A highlight of the ‘Majestic Run’ of the Lady Vikings. The sensational singing of 9-year old Haven Pereira. The diminutive Haven gave a stirring rendition of the ‘National Anthem’ at the St. Mary’s (Essex Tech) Bishop Fenwick (Tsongas) and she saved her best for the TD Garden (Williams).

The large capacity crowd on Tuesday afternoon at the TD Garden, was thrilled to see the young Winthrop girl sing for the championship game.

A salute to Haven! You are great!

March Madness

The MIAA Tourney ended last week and if you followed the Lady Vikings, you were proud of our Lady Vikings. Winthrop athletes competing with larger schools. We don’t have to recruit outside athletes to play for WHS teams. (Story to follow) Viking athletes represent Winthrop families!

This week March Madness, do you have a favorite team? Are you in a March Madness pool? Enjoy the tourney after a very long winter!


WHS has had many great student-athletes that were captains of their college teams. Can you name ten?

Name 10 ex-Viking athletes that played in NCAA basketball tournaments?

Can you name ex-Viking athletes who are coaching in college and high school?

What is your favorite Boston Celtic all-star team?

In 1958 – Winthrop High played in the legendary Lynn Jamboree in football. They played vs. a football player who led the nation in scoring, can you name him?

Private vs. Public

The Lady Vikings played three private schools in the MIAA Tourney. The Lady Vikings defeated St. Mary’s and Bishop Fenwick before losing to Archbishop Williams.

The Bishop’s won the state title defeating Hoosac Valley (22-3) in the state final in Worcester in the final (67-44).

Arch Bishop Williams has been in the TD Garden four out of the last six years. They recruit the best female athletes for their basketball team. Three of the starting five had college scholarships. Virginia Tech (Division I), Penn State (Division I) and Stonehill (Division 2) were exceptional players.

Arch Bishop recruits in Boston and the South Shore. The Lady Vikings are Winthrop players! We were all proud of their record, the top team in the NEC.

Winthrop coaches have Winthrop athletes. We win with Winthrop players from Winthrop families. This has always been why our teams succeed. We will not change that tradition (story to follow).

Kudos to coaches Drisoll, Dunbar, Oyola and Martucci on their success this year. WHS graduates, coaching Winthrop athletes. We salute the Class of 2015; it has been the “Year of the Vikings.”

Let the Games Begin!

Faces in the Crowd

The capacity crowd at the TD Garden on Tuesday was one of the largest in Viking hoop history.

When I greeted Angelo “The Music Maestro” at the Garden, I realized he was missing with “Simply the Best” at the Tsongas Center. Angelo and Captain Mike Eruzione were sitting with hundred of fans wearing Viking Pride jerseys. A salute to Michael for hosting the pre-game meal at JW’s Restaurant.

Kudos to Viking Pride for the yellow jerseys. The two fan buses and the “Big Blue” Vikings bus are a tribute to Vin Crossman and the work of Viking P ride.

UPF is 11 years old, what school in the NEC can match the titles that Winthrop school teams have won.

We salute Viking Pride

Let the Games Begin!

Football News

The 2015 Viking football schedule is in the paper. A trip to Gloucester and Swampscott will be exciting.

Swampscott lost coach Steve Dembowski after 15 years. Steve will coach Milton high school, where he lives.

The ‘Big Blue’ won 114 games under Dembowski. Coach Sean Driscoll won the last two years vs. the Big Blue. A trip to Blocksidge Field on a Saturday is a Winthrop tradition.

The Vikings play Revere on Thanksgiving at the ‘New Turf’ Della Russo Stadium. Could the NEC Title be on the line on Thanksgiving?

The key to the success of the defending NEC champions is the work in the spring and summer. To co-captains Matt Feeley and Dan Dellano, we want another winning season!

Let the Games Begin!

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