Pelham~Windham Sports

Pelham Wrestlers Do More than Hold Their Own at Meet of Champions

by Tommy Gate

Mike Perruccio finished fourth and just missed upsetting the number 2 seed in the 125 lb. weight class.

Pelham Python wrestling coach Bob Riddinger went up to the Meet of Champions last Saturday with three Pythons wrestlers and all three came away with a place in their respective weight divisions.  Riddinger and his two assistants, Mike Fuller and Vinny Cannizzaro, were ready for their kids to take on the best wrestlers that New Hampshire had to offer, and they did a tremendous job in the process with the team scoring 27 points.  Pelham doesn’t have a wrestler heading to the New England’s’ this weekend in New Haven, Connecticut, but junior 125-pound Mike Perruccio came very, very close.  Perruccio started off his Meet of Champions weekend by beating a kid from Merrimack 8-3 in his opening bout, and that pitted him against the No. 2 guy in New Hampshire, James Hurlihy of Pinkerton.  Hurlihy had already beaten Perruccio twice earlier in the season and he took a 2-0 and then a 4-0 lead midway through the second period.  Hurlihy was penalized a point and Perruccio got an escape to cut the lead to 4-2, but it was 6-4 winding down in the third period and Perruccio‘s escape cut it to 6-5, but time ran out for the Python wrestler.  Mike Perruccio had to meet another Division 1 wrestler from Nashua North and he beat that 125-pound grappler 9-7 in overtime before settling for fourth place when he lost 5-3 in overtime to a kid from Keene.

Pelham also received a fifth place finish from 103-pound freshman Josh Medeiros.  Medeiros had to meet No. 2 seed Mike Trask of Merrimack in his 103-pound opener and Trask was able to pin Medeiros with only 40 seconds left in the match.  Josh came back to win his next battle with a three-minute pin, and then he scored a 12-0 major decision over a guy from Plymouth before he was pinned by Bridson of Timberlane.  Medeiros was able to grab fifth place when he shut out a kid from White Mountain Regional 3-0.  Pelham’s last representative at the Meet of Champions was one of Riddinger’s twin sons, Mark, who wrestled in the 152-pound class.  Mark went 2-3 on the day, but he earned a sixth place finish for two upset wins that he pulled off.  He met Justin Mitchell who had already beaten him twice earlier in the year, but Mark shot out to an 8-1 lead before pinning Mitchell late in the second period.  He then faced a kid named Santana whom he had also lost to twice earlier in the year, but last Saturday Riddinger had it all going and was able to win this one 6-0.  Mark Riddinger lost a toughie 3-1 in overtime to a kid from Winnacunnet and then lost 6-2 to a guy from Souhegan to settle for the sixth place medal.  Coach Riddinger summed it all up by saying, “I was proud of all three Pelham kids out there today.  Mike Perruccio came three points away from going to the New England’s, Josh Medeiros is going to be up at the top of the list for the next three years, and Mark wrestled the best he ever has today.  I was proud of all three kids and we’re certainly building to be better than ever next season.”

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Pelham Boys Hoop Declaw Sabres 72-51 at “The Pit” in Class I Tourney Opener

by Tommy Gates

Justin Hojlo makes four straight foul shots after a technical foul.

The Pelham Pythons boys basketball team wrapped up the No. 1 seed in Class I last week when they and the Pembroke Spartans finished up with identical 17-1 records.  The Pythons won the tie-breaker by having more wins against tournament teams, and they will host their first two games this week at Pelham High School.  Tuesday night “The Pit” was full to capacity as many Souhegan fans came down to Pelham to see if the 6-12 Sabres could knock off the No. 1 seeded Pythons after they led Pelham last week for three quarters, but came up on the short end of an 84-75 contest.  Pelham coach Todd Kress put out a challenge to his troops for them to show Souhegan what playing against a championship defense was like, and Justin Hojlo, Stephen Spirou, and the rest of the Pythons set out and immediately put the Sabres to the test.  Pelham shook off a sluggish start after a 21-15 first quarter lead before blowing the game wide open with a 22-10 second quarter advantage.  Leading 43-25 at halftime, coach Kress let his troops buckle down on defense in the third quarter before emptying the bench in the final frame as the Pythons won this one 72-51.  As Kress replaced his starters in the fourth period he turned and said, “This is what championship defense is made of.”

Pelham started to pull away midway through the second period, but Souhegan would answer back with a 3-pointer and it got to a 39-25 lead just before halftime when Hojlo was fouled driving to the hoop.  The Souhegan coach was out on the floor protesting this call again with the officials, and they finally had to hit him with a technical foul.  Hojlo did the rest by burying four straight free throws and allowed his team to go into the locker room with a 43-25 lead.  Hojlo burned the Sabres again at the end of the third period as he was ready to launch a deep 3-pointer along the far sidelines and he got the Sabre defender up in the air and hit the trey and got fouled and that sent the Python fans into delirium.  Justin Hojlo sat the fourth quarter out after having already torched Souhegan for 29 points that included six 3-pointers.  Sophomore Stephen Spirou had another terrific game too, as he pumped in 20 points, senior forward Grant Hebert had nine points on three 3-pointers, and sophomore forward Mike Lombard added seven points and some huge rebounds.  The No. 1 seeded Pythons will now host the Lebanon Red Raiders this Friday night March 6, beginning at 7 p.m.  It is advised that everybody get there early to secure your seat as the Pythons try and get their second Class L title of the new century.

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Pelham Girls Hoop Will Be Looking to Make Class I Tourney in 2010

by Tommy Gates

The Pelham Python girl’s basketball team finished up at 4-14 this past season, which was two wins short from qualifying for the Class I tournament.  Coach Tim Powers thought his girls would be qualifying for a playoff spot, but in early January his playmaker was forced out of the line-up with mono.  Sophomore Alex Catalano was the teams’ spark early on as she’d be finding senior Brianna Szidat or Jacqui Perry under the hoop for easy baskets or she’d be driving for lay-ups of her own.  Coach Powers admitted, “That really hurt when we lost Alex with mono.  We had other girls get more time out there and they improved immensely as the season went on, but losing Alex really hurt.”  Senior Brianna Szidat will be heading to play college ball at UMASS-Lowell next year as she enjoyed another banner year scoring over 20 points a game, but other Class I teams just double and triple teamed her and that made this quite tough.  The Pythons will lose two other seniors to graduation in forward Kayla Bailey and guard April Blinn.  Bailey was a small forward who helped out on the boards and did her share of scoring, while Blinn was one of Pelham’s top defensive players.

Powers went on to say, “We had most of our tougher games at the end of the schedule, and we would go out and play teams tough and even for three quarters, but our one bad quarter always seemed to kill us.”  Junior forward Jacqui Perry had a nice season and was always the girl who could take some of the defensive pressure off Brianna Szidat.  Perry had some big scoring games and also did a nice job on the boards and she’ll be one of the Pythons go-to girls next season.  Junior guard Sarah DeBaldo was a player who coach Powers could always count on as she scored when the team needed her to and would go down with the big girls and battle for rebounds.  Junior Katie Halpin also came on like gangbusters at the end of the year and did a nice job of rebounding, as did junior forward Rachel Fournier who scored her first varsity points of the season.  Two of Pelham’s guards who saw a lot of action as the season wore on were junior Nicole Mastacouris and sophomore Amanda Blake.  Mastacouris really got her scoring touch going in the second half of the season and both she and Blake were very good defensive players.  For the last six games of the season, Powers brought up two sophomores who will be figuring in with this club next season.  Casey Szmyt is a six-footer who will be asked to help out Jacqui Perry under the hoop, and Brianna Trainor will be bringing the ball up with the other Python guards.

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Voter’s Gymnastics

submitted by Deb Getty

On January 31, the girls of Voter’s Gymnastics in Salem competed at the Level 4-6 NH State Sectional.

Level 4: Cassidy Corbett (Pelham) scored a 9.1 on vault (second), 9.1 on bars (first), 8.725 on beam (second), 8.85 on floor (third), 35.775 all around (second).  Gina DiZazzo (Salem) scored 8.95 on vault, 8.675 on bars, 7.7 on beam, 8.55 on floor, 33.875 all around.

Level 5: Katharina Birch (Pelham) scored 8.15 on vault (fourth), 9.125 on bars (third), 8.4 on beam, 8.5 on floor, 34.175 all around (fifth).  Arianna Getty (Pelham) scored 7.825 on vault, 8.125 on bars, 8.25 on beam, 9.1 on floor (fourth), 33.3 all around.

All but one of the girls qualified for the state competition in March.

On February 15, they competed at the Cupid’s Invitational Meet at Granite State Gymnastics Center in Bow. 

Level 4: Liana Clement (Salem) had her personal best meet.  Cassidy Corbett (Pelham), second on vault, third on beam, sixth on floor, and fifth overall in this session.  Gina DiZazzo (Salem), eighth on bars and sixth on beam. 

Level 5: Katharina Birch (Pelham), seventh on vault, fifth on bars, eighth on beam, eighth overall in this session.  Arianna Getty (Pelham), fourth on bars, fourth on floor, sixth overall in this session. 

Congratulations to all of you, and good luck at your second sectional on February 28 and 29.

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Pelham Rec Basketball Champions

The Division 7 Basketball Champions of the Pelham Recreation League for 2009. The team, coached by Reverend Bill Ferguson and Mr. Steve Hayes, was undefeated in their march to the championship. Front row:  Jordan Schafer, Greg Irwin, Jonathan Mantia, Ryan Rheault. Back row:  Steven Toscano, Dominic Dumas, Steven Irwin, Andrew Ferguson, Tyler Boissonneault

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11-0 Pythons Win State Title over Gilford - 2007 State Division V Football Champions

Athlete Accolades Wanted!

Attention Parents.  Is your child involved with Recreation or School sports?  If so we would love to hear from you.  We are currently looking for “Media Parents” to submit pictures/articles from home and/or away games in the Windham area.  Please send your stories via E-mail to  Photo should be sent in a jpeg format.  For more information contact Robin or Len at the Area News Group offices at 880-1516.

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