Two time defending Class L champion Salem opened their boys basketball season just before Christmas at Nashua North High School, and they placed four players in double figures as they trounced the Titans 76-46 by blowing the game wide open in the second half. Coach E. J. Perry has two returning starters in senior guards Josh Jones and Mike Kimball and they got off to a nice start as Jones poured in 18 points and Kimball buried 15 points, but the Blue Devils also got 330 points from a couple of newcomers to the starting line-up. Forward Mark Adamson tossed in 17 points that included four 3-pointers, but he also grabbed a dozen rebounds and rejected 10 Nashua North shots. Junior playmaker Alex Larosa saw limited time last year playing behind Josh Frederico, but Larosa ran the offense very well and still chipped in with 13 points and is showing everyone that he is right at home this winter directing the Blue Devil offense. Salem was only able to grab a slight 16-15 lead after one quarter, and they were still very much in a tough game by halftime as they only led 26-23. The Blue Devils started to open it up in the third period as they outscored the Titans 27-18 to hold a 12 point lead entering the final eight minutes, and they blew away Nashua North 23-5 in the last period for the big 76-46 victory.
Things started off very festive for coach Perry’s Salem kids in the first round of the Greater Lawrence Holiday Tournament, which was also held at Lawrence High School. The Blue Devils opened up with a fast Greater Lawrence Voc team. The Blue Devils would leave the crowd with no doubt that they can still hit the three’s, as Jones opened the game with a trey, and Kimball hit his next two three-pointers to give Salem a 9-5 lead. The Reggies closed it to 9-8, but then Alex Larose swished a three-pointer to make it a 12-8 game before Jones hit his second trey of the quarter. Kimball closed out the first quarter with a basket, but Salem had a quick 17-8 advantage heading into the second quarter. Kimball picked up where he left off and hit his first two 3-pointers of the period to give Salem a 23-16 lead, and coach Perry got two big hoops inside from Sean Bergeron and Sam Shields to keep their 10-point lead. Salem went to their locker room at halftime holding a 33-23 cushion as Marcus Baldwin and Larosa hit three-pointers in the final minute of the opening half. Jones and Kimball would stay hot in the second half in leading Salem to a 57-41 lead after three quarters, and they’d end the game strong in winning this game 76-53. Kimball finished the evening with 29 points that included seven three-pointers, Jones had 19 points with five three-pointers, Larosa finished with 12 points and three three-pointers, and Baldwin had Salem’s last trey to give them a record-breaking 16 3-pointers in the game.
Andover’s coach Dave Fazio watched this game and decided that he’d want to have his Golden Warrior kids get in the face of Kimball and Jones in the next game to try and slow them down, and after Salem got off to a 20-14 first quarter lead, Andover came racing back to take a 26-24 lead at the break. Andover was able to put a guy in Kimball’s face for a lot of his shots, and Jones didn’t get hot until the fourth quarter. Mark Adamson and Alex Larosa were able to keep the Blue Devils close, but Andover blew it up in the third quarter when they outscored Salem 21-9 to open up a 14-point lead. Both teams scored 19 points apiece in the last quarter and Andover moved on to the finals with a 78-64 win over the Blue Devils. Alex Larosa led Salem with 19 points and Josh Jones had 15 points, with Mark Adamson dropping in 14 points.
Salem showed up for their final game of the tournament last Friday without their coach, who was at home battling a bout with the flu. Assistant coach Robbie McLaughlin ran the show as the Salem kids had to take on a very quick and athletic Lawrence team. Salem took a 14-11 first quarter lead, but the Lancers retook the lead at 33-28 by halftime. Just as had happened in the Andover loss, the third quarter was a killer for the Blue Devils as the Lancers upped their lead to 58-41 and went on to win this one 87-60. Mike Kimball led the blue Devils with 19 points, Josh Jones had 16 points, and Alex Larosa had nine points. Salem did get a nice effort from sophomore forward Joe Gallant who scored six points for the second game in a row and did a nice job of rebounding.
Pinkerton got their revenge in their first game back after the tournament, as coach McGinn brought his Blue Devils to the Ice Den in Hooksett for a Division 1 game, and both goalies were outstanding throughout the entire 45-minute contest. Pinkerton backstop J. J. Solloway made 20 saves in this game and was just one save better than Salem junior goalie Robbie Liberatore, who made 21 stops. In the second period, the Astros Teddy McCarran was set up by teammates Nick Currier and Jason Carace for what turned out to be the only goal of the game, as the Astros celebrated a 1-0 victory. Coach McGinn summed up the Blue Devils play by saying, “We didn’t play bad, but we didn’t play as well as I thought we would. We still had a few stupid penalties out there, and we weren’t playing together as a unit like we were doing in the tournament. I think it’s time for a few changes to the line-up, as we have Berlin coming down here for a big game Wednesday night, and we had better be ready for them.” The Blue Devils offense exploded for four goals against Pinkerton in the tourney final and had 16 goals in the 3-game tournament, but was shut down by the Astros. They had plenty of rebounds and other scoring chances, and they also hit a few goal posts along the way.
Coach Mark McGinn’s Blue Devil hockey team got off to a 3-0 lead over the Pinkerton Astros last Sunday night at the Ice Center in the ninth annual Blue Devil Classic, but they had to hold off a very determined Pinkerton team for the last 10 minutes. Salem’s junior goaltender Robbie Liberatore would pick up the MVP for this tournament as he’d have to make several big saves to protect Salem’s 4-3 lead, as Pinkerton knotted the game at 3-3 three minutes into the third period, scoring on a 5 on 3 situation and then tying the score with 12 minutes left to go in the game. Coach McGinn was very happy with the final results, but warned, “We got lucky a bit in the first two games with stupid penalties, because our penalty killing was doing a nice job and Liberatore was stopping everything in sight. But we took too many stupid penalties against Pinkerton, and they were able to tie it up. We’re skating much better the past few games, but we continue to kill ourselves with ridiculous penalties, and it’s going to stop. I guarantee you!” Salem’s senior forward Joel Vastl batted in the winning goal with 10:14 left in the game. Salem almost had an open net goal at the end, as junior forward Bryan Thibodeau made a nice steal and fired it into the open net, but the buzzer went off just a half of a second before.
Salem took a 2-0 record into the finals, thanks to a big 4-1 second round win over the Timberlane Owls. Salem senior forward Joel Vastl was on top of his game on this night as he handed out assists on Salem’s first three goals and then tallied the Blue Devils last goal in the 4-1 victory over the Owls. Timberlane came out playing a very physical game, and both teams had their scoring chances early, but Salem finally got on the scoreboard with just under five minutes left in the first period when Vastl spotted an open Jared Henderson and he rifled a shot over the goalie’s shoulder for a 1-0 lead. Salem junior goalie Robbie Liberatore was outstanding once again, stopping everything that came near him. The Blue Devils added to their lead midway through the second period when senior defenseman Marc Baroni took a pass from Jared Henderson that came from Vastl and he buried it in the back of the Owl net. Towards the end of the second period, Vastl found Mike Frahm open in front of the Timberlane goal and he fed him with a picture-perfect pass and Frahm made it 3-0 by depositing it in the back of the net. Timberlane was able to avoid the shutout when their star Nick Bundzinski scored just before the end of the period to make it a 3-1 game. Vastl then blasted his goal home with four minutes left to go in the game, to send the Blue Devils to the championship game against Pinkerton. Coach Mark McGinn was happy about his club’s performance, saying, “We skated well today and cashed in on several scoring opportunities. I hope we can keep building from this because we are getting superb goal tending from Robbie Liberatore.”
The Salem kids opened up this tournament in a big way Friday afternoon, as they were forced to wait about an hour and a half (while the Zamboni was being fixed) before meeting the Londonderry Lancers and their All-Star scoring machine Tommy Thompson. Salem senior John Pettoruto put the Blue Devils ahead for good with 6:46 left in the first period when he fired in a wrist shot, and about 4 minutes later Jared Henderson made it a 2-0 game when he scored a power play goal. Liberatore was called on to make five first period saves and two were on breakaways, but he had no problem brushing them aside. Five minutes into the second period, the Lancers were on a power play, but Salem’s Aaron Mackey stole a puck around mid ice and went in alone on the Lancers goalie, but was pulled down from behind, resulting in a penalty shot that Mackey was successful on. With eight minutes left in the second period, Jared Henderson scored his second goal of the game on a power play, and the Blue Devils held that 4-0 advantage three minutes into the third period. Salem defenseman Kenny Frazier rested a shot in on the Lancer goal that was deflected in front by Mike Rocheleau making it a 5-0 game, and a minute later Robbie Liberatore would pick up his first assist of the year when he fired the puck out to Joe Simone as he went down and blasted one home to make it a 6-0 game. Timmy Kingdon made a nice steal with three minutes left and wheeled and fired a shot into the net for a 7-0 lead, and Marc Baroni closed the scorebook for the night with the last goal for Salem’s 8-0 drubbing of Londonderry.
Saints teams had a hockey-filled holiday week. The Saints had a 12-6-4 week. The Peewee 2 team traveled to Waterville Valley to play in the Deep Freeze Hockey Tournament over the New Year’s weekend.
The Saints Mites are in first place in their division with their 7-2-1 record. The young skaters faced Stoneham and beat them 3-1 on the first day of the year. Meanwhile, the Squirt 2 team played two super games on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday they defeated Andover 7-2, behind hat tricks by Kevin Bolio and Michael Borrelli, while Joe Moore added a single goal. On Sunday they completed their undefeated weekend with a 6-2 win over Peabody, propelled by excellent defense and aggressive forechecking. Scorers for Salem were Kevin Bolio, Michael Borrelli, Becca Healey, Matt Bergeron, and Charlie Beneze.
The Squirt 1 lost its only game of the week to Medford 2-0, lacking the offense to get a win behind the strong netminding of Nick Sturgess.
The three Pee Wee teams played 10 combined games over the holiday week.
The Peewee 1 team recorded a win over Triton with 4-3 and two 2-2 ties against Andover and Medford. The Peewee 2 team played two Valley League games and four Deep Freeze Tournament games. In the Valley League they went 2-0 with a convincing 7-0 win vs. Woburn and a 3-1 win vs. Wilmington. At the Deep Freeze Tournament they won their first three games against Franklin, MA, Plymouth, MA, and Falmouth, MA by a combined score of 21-4 and ran out of gas losing the championship to Framingham 7-1.
The Peewee 3 team lost a very close game to Melrose of 4-2. It was a one-goal game throughout until Melrose sealed the win with a fourth goal very late in the third period.
The Saints Bantam 1 team faced the first place team from Peabody and lost 7-2. Currently the Bantam 1 team holds the number two spot in the Valley League Blue Division. The Saints came out strong and outplayed the Peabody squad in the first period. Jason Parker put the Saints on the board first. The Saints held Peabody to just four shots on net in the first but allowed 14 shots on net in the second and third period where seven of those found their way into the net. The second game of the week for the Bantam 1’s was a loss against Woburn, 6-2. The Bantam 2 team went 2-0-1 for the week, while the Bantam 3 team went 1-1-1.
Salem’s winter track teams went to UNH over the Christmas vacation, and the girls team split their meet going 2-2, with coach Todd Seastedt’s boys beating all four teams they faced, to put their dual meet record at 10-1. Manchester Central ran away with first place in the girls meet as they compiled 72 points on the day, with the Coe-Brown Bears getting 57 points for second place. The Salem girls took third place with 52 points, beating Timberlane’s total of 42 and Nashua North’s 34. Sophomore flash Melissa Higgins didn’t have anyone close to her in the 300-meter dash, as she won in a blistering time of 43.6 seconds. Senior Robyn Ciriello took first place in the shot put when he unleashed a toss of 34 feet, 3 3/4 inches, but Salem also picked up some valuable points in the high jump where freshman Victoria Rozumek went up and over the bar at 5 feet, 0 inches, and Sarah Miller came in second place. Megan McLaughlin gained a second place medal in the 600-meter run when she checked in at 1:48.6, and Emily Mender scored a second place finish for the Blue Devils in the 55-meter hurdles in a time of 9.5 seconds.
Senior Mike Marshall was a triple winner for the Blue Devils who beat four teams while piling up 75.3 points to easily nip second place Nashua North who had 67 points. Marshall started off his day by winning the 55-meter hurdle in a time of 7.8 seconds, before vaulting 20 feet, 3 1/4 inches to win the long jump. Marshall capped off another great meet by winning the high jump competition when he cleared the bar at 6 feet, 6 inches. Sophomore speedster Max Jacques blew away his competition in the 300-meter dash when he broke the tape in 38.2 seconds, and he was just barely beaten in the 55-meter dash when he took second place in a time of 6.4 seconds. The Fitzgerald boys scored some big points for the Blue Devils when Craig finished third in the 600-meter run in 1:33.3, and his brother Corey finished third in the 1000-meter run in 2:54.4. The Blue Devils 4 x 160-meter relay team took first place in a time of 1:21.1, while their 4 x 400-meter relay team finished second in a time of 3:56.9.
The Blue Devils girls’ basketball team finished off the Greater Lawrence Girls Basketball Tournament at Methuen High School with a nice 66-52 win over the Lawrence Lancers, and had four of their players hit for double figures. Senior tri-captain Caitlin Peters led the assault with 15 points, and she was also given Salem’s ‘Coaches Award’ for this tournament. Junior guard Nora Galvin hit for 11 points as did junior forward Amanda Vaudrieul who came in off the bench and played her best game of the young season. Senior tri-captain Kelsi Record had 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds as well. This was a game of swings as Salem busted out from the start and built up a comfortable 15-4 lead after one quarter. Kelsi Record had two buckets, Nora Galvin had three points, and Caitlin Peters, Olivia Connors, Kerry White, and Amanda Vaudrieul all had baskets for the Blue Devils. Salem upped that lead to 19-4 after Galvin connected on a 3-pointer and Connors hit a foul shot, but the Lancers called a time out and then went on a 13-3 run over the next four minutes that cut Salem’s lead down to 22-17. Salem coach Liz Briggs then had her girls turn the tables in the last three minutes before halftime, as Peters sank six points and Vaudrieul connected for five to give the Blue Devils a 33-21 lead at the break. Peters hit two more buckets and Salem got early hoops from Galvin and Connors to stretch the lead to 42-27 with four and a half minutes to go in the third period, but the Lawrence girls went on another 15-6 run for the end of the period to cut Salem’s lead to 48-42 entering the final eight minutes of the contest. Vaudrieul, Peters, Connors, Record, and White kept clicking down the stretch, and White returned to score a big bucket after twisting her ankle at the end of the third quarter.
Salem had hoped to put up a good fight against the Methuen Rangers, and they did for the last three quarters, but a cold-shooting first quarter had them trailing 18-7. The Blue Devils outscored the Rangers the rest of the way, but they couldn’t find a way to stop junior six-footer Rashidat Agboola, who torched the Salem girls for 26 points and a bundle of rebounds and blocked shots. Olivia Connors was the only Salem player to have any type of luck against Methuen as she tossed in 14 points, freshman Kerry White came through with seven points, Sarah Raye sank six points, and Caitlin Peters was held to five points.
Coach Briggs’ girls started off this tournament coming in with a 2-1 record in New Hampshire Class L play, but they drew the Central Catholic Red Raiders in their opening game. The teams were knotted at 6-6 after the first four minutes as Kelsi Record had all six Salem points. Central went on an 8-3 run for the rest of the period to take a 14-9 lead into the second stanza. Caitlin Peters started to warm up in the second period. Kelsi Record and Kerry White continued their nice work inside, and Peters was able to hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that gave Central a slight 22-20 half-time lead. Olivia Connors scored seven of Salem’s first nine points in the third quarter, Amanda Smigliani hit a 3-pointer, and Nora Galvin hit a key bucket to give Central a 38-35 lead heading into the final frame. Smigliani hit another 3-pointer to tie the game at 40-40 with seven minutes left, and Melissa Ouellette had three points and four rebounds off the bench, but late hoops by Peters and Connors had the Blue Devils falling short by a score of 58-51, even though they only trailed 53-51 with 31 seconds left to play.
Getting a run start on the New Year, sophomore Melissa Higgins was honored as Salem High School’s first female ‘Athlete of the Week’ for 2009.
Higgins is an all-season athlete, playing field hockey in the fall and running track during the winter and spring. She earned her varsity letter in both track seasons during her freshman year and became a part of the varsity field hockey team during her sophomore year.
Higgins amazed Salem High during her first season of spring track, beating the school record for the 400-meter dash as a freshman, which was formerly run by Lauren Wilks in 1983. Wilks held the record for 25 years, running the 400 in 58.6 seconds, while Higgins presently holds the record at 58.4.
With one school record under her belt, Higgins returned in her sophomore year for the winter track season, sprinting her way past another school record in the 300-meter dash this past weekend. After a two-hour bus trip to Dartmouth College, Higgins beat the record previously held by Briel Thomas from the 2003-2004 winter season, by point-tenth of a second. Thomas ran her 300 in 41.9 seconds, while Higgins ran slightly faster at 41.8 seconds.
The first freshman to hold a track school record, earning a second during her sophomore year, participating in varsity sports all year long, and awarded ‘Athlete of the Week,’ Higgins continues to shine as a star athlete, all within her first two years of high school!