Bishop Guertin came to Salem High last Saturday night looking to get even with the Blue Devils after coach E. J. Perry’s kids won a tight game by five in overtime up at Bishop Guertin about a month ago. On this night it would be a Class L quarter-final, and there was no way Salem co-captains Josh Jones and Mike Kimball were going to let this happen. This group would toss in 12, 3-pointers in the game and the Blue Devils burst out of the starting blocks with seven treys in the first quarter alone as they took a 29-17 into the second stanza, and then rested with a 47-33 halftime advantage. Jones had four 3-pointers in the opening quarter for 12 points, LaRosa had three 3-pointers for 11 points and Mike Kimball added three buckets for six points to account for all 29 of Salem’s first quarter points. Mark Adamson, Sean Bergeron, and Sammy Shields decided to get in on the scoring too in the second period, but Kimball added five more, LaRosa hit two more buckets, and Jones drained his fifth trey of the opening half. The Cardinals got a brief early burst to narrow the score to 50-39, two minutes into the third quarter, but Kimball went on the rampage with nine points in the quarter, plus he was setting up Sean Bergeron who had six points in the third frame to go along with seven rebounds. The Blue Devils pulled away 69-47 after three quarters, and coach Perry began replacing his starters on the floor at the beginning of the fourth period. E. J. Perry later said, “I think our kids are getting it now. We have to hit the boards with Bergeron, Adamson, and Joe Gallant, and we’ve got to get that tight defense if we have any thoughts about going on for another Class L title. We know that we’re going to have our hands full with Manchester Memorial up at UNH in the semi-finals Wednesday night, but I think our kids want it pretty bad right now. They beat us pretty good early in the year, and I hope our kids have very good memories.” Josh Jones led all scorers with 23 points, Kimball added 22 points, Alex LaRosa rifled in 15 points all in the first half, and Sean Bergeron did a nice job on the boards with eight points and a dozen rebounds. A win Wednesday night over the Crusaders would send the Blue Devils back up to UNH Saturday afternoon for a 3 p.m. championship game against the winner of the Trinity/Alvirne game.
Salem’s senior co-captain Josh Jones opened up last Wednesday nights’ opening round Class L tournament game with Timberlane, with a 3-pointer that found nothing but net, and his teammates didn’t stop until coach E. J. Perry pulled them off the floor and cleared his bench with six minutes left in the game and the Blue Devils comfortably ahead 72-32. Mike Kimball already hit his first three, 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the contest to open up a 15-4 lead and Mark Adamson would score nine points in the last 2:30 of the first period to give the Blue Devils a whopping 31-6 advantage heading into the second quarter. Jones, Kimball, and Alex LaRosa continued to pile it on in the second period when they stretched their lead to 54-23, and coach Perry would give his reserves plenty of playing time in the second half with his Blue Devils holding a comfortable 40 point lead in the final frame. Josh Jones tossed in 19 points for the night while mike Kimball added 17 points, and Alex LaRosa found his way around the court to drop in 15 points. Coach Perry and his Salem boys are hoping that there will be a sea of blue this Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. when the Blue Devils will hopefully be seeking their third consecutive Class L title against either the Trinity Pioneers, or the Alvirne Broncos.
Coach Ginnie Lavallo brought her state champion Blue Devil girls gymnastic team down to Norwich Free Academy last weekend for the New England Girls Gymnastic Meet, and while it was a great experience for her team, there was no “Luck O’ the Irish” for this team against the best gymnastic teams from all over New England. The Salem girls would have to settle for seventh place here. The Blue Devils definitely weren’t happy with their final score of 134.95, but it was a great experience for all of the girls over the course of the weekend. Senior Jess Maffeo missed almost all of the regular season because of mono, but got cleared by her doctors to participate in the state meet in two events. Jess continued to get back into shape for this meet, and she was one of two Salem All-Around athletes. The other All-Around athlete from Salem was none other than senior Leeann Vadala, who came in second in the state to Kaitlin O’Brien of Spaulding when she got a score of 35.95.
LaVallo’s Salem girls drew a tough assignment right off the bat, as they’d have to start off this meet on the Balance Beam. LaVallo said, “Because of the first event nerves for a New England Meet, I was hoping for any other event that this. The girls did pretty well on the Balance Beam, and now I’m thinking we’ll be finishing up on Bars and this will be a nice showcase for Leeann to possible break her school record again, after she collected a 9.2 to win the State Meet.” Vadala started off with an 8.85 mark on the Beam which landed her in eighth place, just one-tenth of a point from placing, and junior Shireen Kirata had an 8.45 mark that got her 18th place there.
Next up for the Blue Devils was the Floor Exercise and this would be their biggest challenge because of the rules difference. Salem was still feeling pretty confident as they took their warm-ups, but Leeann Vadala came down funny from a jump and appeared to throw her back out. Vadala tried to compete and actually made it through her routine in obvious pain after a fall on her opening 1 1/2 twist. The trainers there all flocked around Vadala and administered treatment, but Leeann would have to withdraw from the competition and would miss her last two events, the Vault and the Bars. Now this meant that Shireen Kirata would have to pick up the All-Around slack for Vadala and she’d earn a 34.3 score for the four events, while Jess Maffeo was able to get a 33.85 score for the All-Around.
Despite the setback, the Salem girls rallied around each other and came up with some outstanding routines and scores. Junior Taylor Buatti stepped in for the injured Vadala on the Bars and had a personal best score of 7.45, and sophomore Geena Terino had a best ever 8.1 mark on the Bars and that was her only event of the day. The Blue Devils got four real nice Vaulting efforts from Jess Theriault, Brittany Fetzner, Jamie Maffeo, and Christy Theriault, and got nice performances from Taylor Buatti, and Giana Contrada on Floor Exercise.
Salem will lose Leeann Vadala and Jess Maffeo to graduation, but Lavallo has a bundle of talent coming back that will surely be looking to be a four time state champion next March.
Salem High cheerleading coaches Colleen O’Shea-Marinelli and Tracey Berube didn’t care a bit about the fact that they were entering the youngest Class L cheerleading team in the Class L Meet last Saturday up at Southern New Hampshire University. This Blue Devil team that is made up of eight freshmen, two sophomores, five juniors, and four seniors got off to a great start the week before up in Concord. Concord High was the site of the Capital City Competition, and the Blue Devil girls were able to come away with a first place trophy by besting Merrimack and Pinkerton, but this competition would be tighter and more grueling.
In what coach Colleen O’Shea-Marinelli would call one of the cleanest performances she ever saw, her Blue Devil girls went out and threw up a top score of 190.5 to win the competition over second place Pinkerton with 187 points and Merrimack with 183 points, and the 14 other teams that also performed. O’Shea-Marinelli said, “I saw the Pinkerton and the Merrimack girls go out and perform and they hit every part of their routine, so I told the girls that it was going to take their best effort. Our girls stuck every jump and were clean all the way through their routine and, to tell you the truth, I and Tracy Berube, my assistant coach, were just hoping that it was good enough to beat two other flawless performances by Pinkerton and Merrimack. When it was announced that we got the score of 190.5 for first place, the girls went wild, but they certainly deserved it. We thrive on working the hardest, but to do it with the youngest team that we’ve ever had was pretty special.”
The four seniors on the team were Janelle Costigan, Gina Ciambella, Brittany Mallette, and Diana Askyonova. There were five junior girls on the team in Lisa Nugent, Emily Mahoney, Emily Speight, Stefanie Bromander, and Devin Lawlor. Jordyn Tommasi and Kelsey Kurto were the only two sophomores on this team, but there were eight freshmen, with most of them only being 14 years old and performing against mostly girls 16-18 years of age. The freshmen girls were Sarah Dascoli, Samantha Johnston, Alexandra Philippon, Rachel Vignos, Molly Haberman, Erika Hughes, Jessica Hanlon, and Carli Reis. This team went up to Concord High on Saturday, March 7 and took first place in the Capital City competition, but then were able to do even better at the Class L competition the following week. Coach Tracy Berube admitted, “We had the girls practicing long hours to pull this off. You don’t go out and take first place in two big competitions like that without a lot of hard work.” As if those two feats weren’t enough for the Blue Devil cheerleaders, on Sunday, March 15, Southern NH University was the site of the JV Winter Cheerleading Competition, and coach Michelle Poulin’s Salem JV girls took first place in that competition, too. Salem athletic director Dave Rozumek is already busy moving things around in the school’s trophy case, trying to make room for two more large trophies, compliments of the Blue Devil cheerleaders.
After taking a comfortable 15-8 first quarter lead, the Salem girls basketball team thought they had a cover on their hoop in the second period as Dover switched over from man-to-man to a zone defense and the Salem outside shooting went stone cold. Dover took a 23-20 halftime lead and built onto it in the second half as they were able to advance to the quarter-finals with a 55-45 win over the Blue Devils. Salem had been on a six-game winning streak after losing a tough game up at Goffstown three weeks ago, and they had been creating more offense along the way. It looked like that would continue last Wednesday night up in Dover as senior co-captain Caitlin Peters got the Blue Devils off and running with a nine-point first quarter that had her team opening up a 15-8 cushion in the first eight minutes. Peters hit a 3-pointer, drained a couple of foul shots, and went coast-to-coast on two other lay-ups after causing turnovers with her nagging defense. Senior forward Kelsi Record, and junior forwards Olivia Connors and Amanda Vaudreuil all cashed in on Salem’s other first period buckets. In between periods the Dover coach decided to drop back in a zone like Dover had done to the Blue Devils about a month ago in Salem. The Blue Devils were ahead for most of that game, but gave up 22 points in the fourth quarter and lost that game 48-40, so the Dover coach figured he’d try it again. This time it worked because the Blue Devils couldn’t buy a basket and the much taller Dover girls were controlling the boards and holding the Salem girls to just one shot every time down the court. Another thing that hurt the Blue Devils was that the last time these two teams met, Dover’s star, Ashleigh Leighton was held to eight points, but she’d explode for 19 points on this night and get help from teammates Zubkuss and Moore, who tossed in 12 and 11 respectively to move the Green Wave onto the quarter’s. Salem freshman forward Kerry White did have seven second half points for the Blue Devils but Dover’s very athletic team never let Salem get anything going from underneath the hoop. Dover led 38-32 heading into the fourth quarter and Salem didn’t get any closer than four points the rest of the way in dropping the 55-45 contest to the Green Wave.
Salem coach Liz Briggs said after the game, “We thought we were in pretty good shape after Petey (Caitlin Peters), got us off to a great start, but Dover fell back into their zone and we went cold from the outside for the rest of the game, and we couldn’t get any offensive rebounds off of our misses. Some nights girls like Nora Galvin, Sarah Raye, Gina Righini, or Amanda Vaudreuil will get hot from outside and open things up for us, but it didn’t happen tonight for us.” The Salem girls finished the season with an 11-8 record that saw them lose their senior All-State forward, Amanda Saab on the second day of practice when she went down with a serious knee injury that required major surgery in early January. That alone took 20 points a game away from the Salem offense, but this team got a lot of younger girls plenty of playing time and they should be a team to be reckoned with next season.