classical girls basketball team

Delgado leads Classical to win

FILE PHOTO
Classical’s Irianis Delgado led all scorers with 16 points on Tuesday night. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

Prior to Tuesday night’s game against Saugus, Classical girls basketball coach Tom Sawyer said his team would have its hands full against a talented Sachems group. Perhaps the Rams play best when their hands are full.

Behind an offensive display that saw seven different Classical scorers, the Rams rolled to a 60-37 win over the Sachems at Saugus High.

“Most impressive was that they pressed us and we handled their press,” Sawyer said. “Against Saugus, it starts with being able to handle their pressure. We were terrific tonight. Jeylly Medrano, running the point, was unbelievable handling their press. It all starts there.”

Classical seized the momentum in the early goings of the game. Paris Wilkey missed her first few shots, but the junior drained a pair of three pointers in the first quarter. Irianis Delgado muscled her way to a pair of buckets in the paint, and the Rams led 18-6 at the end of the first.

The Sachems carried their struggles into the second quarter. Classical ran a stingy 2-3 zone defense that gave Saugus issues throughout the first half.

“Classical did a good job,” Saugus coach Mark Schruender said. “They did a good job, they sped us up. I think when they started speeding us up, everybody started to take it upon themselves to come back from a poor start.”

Saugus committed three turnovers in the first two minutes of the second quarter. Classical capitalized on those mistakes with a 6-0 run that ended when Alessia Salzillo nailed a jump shot to get the Sachems back on the board. Classical led 34-12 at the half.

“Coach (Helen) Ridley and I talk before every game,” Sawyer said. “We both agreed that in this particular game we should play zone because Saugus is extremely active on offense. We gave up 12 (points) in the first half, so we stuck with it.”

Down 22 points at the start of the second half, Saugus was in need of offense. The Sachems began to hit their shots in the third quarter as a pair of free throws by Krissy Italiano slimmed Classical’s lead to 18 points at 36-18. The Rams held their end of the bargain and made a handful of buckets to carry a 48-23 advantage into the fourth quarter.

By the start of the fourth quarter, the game was in Classical’s bag. The Rams (7-3) rolled to their seventh win of the season.

Classical had three scorers in double figures. Delgado led all scorers with 16 points.

“Irianis had a terrific game tonight,” Sawyer said of the junior forward. “She’s a little banged up, had an ankle injury and didn’t know if she was going to be able to play. She’s a tough kid though, she said she wanted to play. We needed her.”

Medrano contributed with 13 points while Wilkey scored ten.

“What this shows is that we played our best game of the year,” Sawyer said. “It was an unbelievable effort by everybody, up and down our lineup. We’ll celebrate it tonight, it’s hard to win in this league.”

Classical will aim to stay on the win column when the Rams visit Gloucester on Friday.

On the Saugus side, Molly Granara led the Sachems with ten points.

“She (Granara) just competes,” Schruender said. “She’s a freshman that doesn’t know she’s a freshman. She works really hard in practice and yesterday I got on her in practice about defense. She responded really well.”

Salzillo had a strong performance of her own, with eight points.

The Sachems (6-2) will look to shake off the loss by correcting their mistakes. Saugus has a quick turnaround as the Sachems host Somerville tonight.

“Tomorrow’s a new day,” Schruender said. “We’re a game to game team. These kids are tough.”


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

Morrison: Classical-English game was a thriller

FILE PHOTO
The Classical bench reacts after Paris Wilkey makes two of three free throws to tie the game.

By KATIE MORRISON

Tuesday, the first of two “rivalry days” of the basketball season, I thought the big-ticket game of game of the night would be the English-Classical boys basketball game, but boy, was I wrong.

The girls game was where the action was.

To be honest, though, there wasn’t much excitement for the first 3½ quarters, except for the fact that the Bulldogs, after losing by 23 points to Classical just the week before, seemed to be well on their way to their second victory of the season.

It looked like a big upset was in the making. And for the first 28 minutes, every time the Rams looked as if they were hitting their stride, the Bulldogs would pull away again.

But then, Classical came alive and went on a 12-0 run. All of a sudden, shots that weren’t falling earlier were finding their way through the hoop. The Rams were pulling down rebounds on defense and making the most of second chances on offense.

And just like that, with under a minute to play, it was a game again.

The final play of regulation was a thriller. The Bulldogs were able to contain Paris Wilkey, the Rams’ best shooter, in the first half, but the junior started finding her groove later in the game. Down by two, 43-41, with the final seconds of the game ticking away, Wilkey got the ball and launched a shot from behind the arc as the buzzer sounded. The shot was no good. But Wilkey was fouled, and the Rams had new life.

So, all eyes were on Wilkey, standing alone at the line. There aren’t that many instances in sports when the game is in the hands of just one player. In a hockey shootout, the focus is divided between the goalie and the shooter, depending on which team you’re pulling for. In baseball and softball it’s the same, with equal pressure on a batter and pitcher.

But being all alone, just you and the basket, your teammates hanging on each shot, your ability to perform one of the fundamental parts of the game on display … it’s a vulnerable position.

At first, everyone in the gym, even English fans and players, were quiet, everyone watching with bated breath, at least until English coach Mackenzie Charles encouraged the crowd to make some noise. But that didn’t distract Wilkey, who nailed the first shot.

She missed the second, and I think every person in the gym held their breath as she put up the third, which went in to tie the game.

Even with all eyes on her, Wilkey was calm, cool and collected at the line.

“Nothing (was going through my head), I just focused on the rim and making the shot, just focused on me,” said Wilkey, who added that she blocked out everything except the rim.

It was only fitting that overtime was just as exciting as the final play of regulation.

Priscill Alouidor put back an offensive rebound to give the Rams a four-point lead, 50-46, with time winding down.

“I was just really nervous, because I didn’t want to mess up, but I was really focused and my teammates kept my spirits up and kept me motivated,” Alouidor said after the game.
And while Alouidor’s shot was the game-winner, it was English’s Ely Guity’s shot that was the loudest in overtime. After Alouidor gave the Rams the four-point edge, Guity knocked down an improbable three-pointer to bring the Bulldogs within one. Unfortunately for English, there wasn’t enough time to complete the comeback, as it got the ball back with just over a second left.

I wrote last week, after the Rams blew out the Bulldogs, that with the English and Classical girls playing each other three times this season (since the two met in the Boverini Tournament consolation game), maybe the fire of the rivalry wouldn’t burn as hot, especially if Classical, which looked like the definitively stronger team after the first meeting, swept the series.

The Bulldogs proved me wrong Tuesday. It was pretty clear that the Bulldogs have the ability to compete with some of the best teams in the Northeastern Conference. Earlier in the season, English fell by just two points, 52-50, to Danvers, which is still undefeated at 5-0. And if it weren’t for the perfect storm of Classical sparking a hot streak and English failing to hit shots in the final four minutes of Tuesday’s game, the Bulldogs might have won going away against a team that should be in the mix at the top of the NEC.

One thing is for sure, though. Circle Feb. 16 on your calendar. That’s the next time these two teams meet, and if the game is anything like it was Tuesday, it will be a blast.


Katie Morrison can be reached at kmorrison@itemlive.com. 

Classical sneaks by English in OT thriller

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Paris Wilkey throws up a shot through a trio of English defenders.

By STEVE KRAUSE 

LYNN — This one was about four minutes from being in the bag. English was up by a dozen, and it looked as if it just wasn’t Classical’s night.

But all of a sudden, the Rams’ girls basketball team caught fire, just at the same time the Bulldogs got ice cold. The result was a 12-0 run over the last four minutes that brought Classical even at the buzzer.

Then, in overtime, Classical looked as if it had the game well in hand, only to see English hit an improbable three-pointer and have a chance to win the game with 1.3 seconds left.

It wasn’t to be. Classical hung on for a 50-49 win that left Rams coach Tom Sawyer visibly exhausted, and English’s Mackenzie Charles searching for answers.

“I’m proud of my girls,” said Charles, whose Bulldogs fell to Classical by 23 points in last week’s Boverini Tournament. “They don’t know how good they can be. I  have a very good team, and they’ll be good once they know how good they are.

“But,” he said, “we can’t be giving up leads like that.”

On the other side of the floor, Sawyer had nothing but praise for the Bulldogs.

“We came in here last week and beat them by 23, and we come here tonight and they play us like this. You have to give them a lot of credit.

“But our girls deserve credit too,” said Sawyer. “They kept coming back and coming back. They persevered.”

English was able to build a 12-point lead (43-31) with 4:18 to go when Juliana Perry hit her second 3-pointer of the game. But that was the last bucket English would score in regulation.

Classical, which gave English several cracks at the basket on the offensive end for large parts of the game, began asserting itself.

“Too many rebounds,” said Charles. “That’s our Achilles heel.”

Although Classical ran off the last 12 points in regulation, it wasn’t without a few hiccups of its own. The Rams turned the ball over twice during that span. But Classical sunk five of seven free throws, no two bigger than the ones Paris Wilkey (who led all scorers with 18 points) drained with no time left on the clock. She was fouled in the act of trying to beat the buzzer with a three as Classical trailed, 43-41. She hit two of the three freebies.

“How about her?” marveled Sawyer. “There was nobody on the line with her, she’s all alone. She was remarkable.”

In overtime, English’s Ely Guity (8 points) opened by hitting one of two foul shots, and Classical’s Priscill Alouidor (7 points) hit a bombs-away 3-pointer to give the Rams a 46-44 lead. After Stacey Abreau hit another freebie, Jeylly Medrano (10 points) sank a jumper to make it 48-45.

Another Abreau  (8 points) free throw brought English within two, but Wilkey hit for two off an offensive rebound and it was 50-46 with 14.9 seconds to go.

Somehow, Guity’s three-point prayer banged off the backboard and straight down, though, and with 10 seconds left, English trailed by one.

The tension heightened as Soneta Srey (12 points) missed both free throws, giving English a shot with 1.3 seconds left.

Charles took three straight timeouts before English finally tried a desperation play, but the shot when over the backboard and Classical had its victory.

“When (Guity) hit that shot off the backboard,” said Sawyer, “I thought maybe this wasn’t going to be our night after all.”

But it turned out to be.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

Former Classical star leads by example

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Former Lynn Classical girls basketball star Helen Ridley now leads by example as an assistant coach for the Rams. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — There’s no question that the tradition basketball holds in Lynn is a rich one.

The long list of hoop stars who were grew up in Lynn includes a number of players who took their talents to the Division 1 level.

The list includes Lynn Tech alumnus Antonio Anderson,  who played for coach John Calipari at the University of Memphis and in the NBA with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder; his brother, Anthony, who played at English and UMass Amherst; Tech’s Tony Gallo, who played at Coppin State; and Corey Bingham, another former Tech star, who played for the University of Toledo.

But make no mistake about it, the women have done their share to carry the torch too.

Helen Ridley, a former team captain and 1,000-point scorer for the Classical girls’ basketball team, serves as an example that the Lynn women have done their part in making the city proud.

Ridley played at Classical from 1997 to 2001 for former Rams coach and current principal Gene Constantino.

“It was great,” Ridley said. “I loved playing basketball. I was on varsity for four years and we got better as time went on. My junior and senior years we had some really great teams. It was an awesome experience.”

Ridley’s success on the court at Classical earned her a Division 1 scholarship to Quinnipiac University. She was a star there from 2001 to 2005, and a team captain in her final season with the Bobcats.

After graduating from Quinnipiac, Ridley coached at her alma mater and then at the University of New Hampshire.

She returned to her high school team in 2013, after stepping away from coaching for a year, as an assistant coach on Tom Sawyer’s staff.

“I took a year off from coaching and that year I helped my dad (St. Mary’s principal James) with his AAU program (Thundercats),” Ridley said. “I was around a lot of the high school coaches at the time. I definitely missed that competitive aspect.”

Now that Ridley’s career has come full circle, she works closely with the players on her team and serves as a case study for those who seek to play hoops in college.

“That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day,” Ridley said. “If I can talk to them about using basketball as an avenue for getting an education, that, to me, is coaching.

“Being able to help an athlete in that way is more meaningful than winning or losing games, especially the athletes that may be first generation college students,” she said.

Ridley’s experiences as a star at Quinnipiac serve to help her advise the girls who are looking to continue the trend of Lynn natives earning basketball scholarships.

Ridley said the trend is growing, especially on the women’s side.

“The females do a good job of going to high-level programs,” Ridley said.

Current females carrying the Lynn basketball torch in the college ranks include Brianna Rudolph (UMass Lowell), Sharell Sanders (Caldwell), Diondra Woumn (Franklin Pierce), Catherine Stinson (Southern New Hampshire), Chenysse Hill (Plymouth State) and Monta Connolly (Framingham State).

“In the past 10 years, there’s more than a handful of Lynn kids who have gone on to play Division 1 or 2 and there are more that have played in Division 3, which is no small feat,” Ridley said. “There aren’t too many athletes who can continue their careers in college. It’s pretty awesome for those who get that opportunity.”

Former women’s basketball stars who have paved the way for today’s college players representing Lynn include Ridley, Jeannette Anderson (Caldwell), Tori Faieta (Stonehill) and Monique Lee (Quinnipiac).

Ridley noted that she, along with other Lynn women who were fortunate enough to continue their basketball careers in college, look to mentor today’s high school players who aim to follow in their footsteps.

“We try to let them know they can do it and we try to show them how it’s done,” Ridley said. “It’s not easy. I think we try to serve as that mentor figure.”

She added, “showing them an avenue of how to get into college and how to get recruited, it’s huge for the city to have those avenues. I don’t think we had that 15 years ago. I don’t think it was as prevalent when I was in high school as it is now. If these athletes want to be mentored, there are so many avenues.”


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

School Roundup: Classical girls fall in OT

FILE PHOTO
Paris Wilkey scored 24 points for the Rams. 

By MIKE ALONGI 

The Classical girls basketball team overcame a late eight-point deficit on the road against Danvers Thursday night to force overtime, but the Falcons held on for the 59-55 win.

Paris Wilkey led all scorers with 24 points and Soneta Srey had a big game, adding 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to deal Danvers (4-0) its first loss.

For the Falcons, Sarah Unczur logged a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, as did Lily Montanari (16 points, 10 rebounds).

Danvers coach Pat Veilleux had nothing but good things to say about the Rams.

“This was without question our biggest test so far,” Veilleux said. “Classical is multi-faceted. They’re talented, tough, physical and as they showed tonight, very resilient. Someone had to win this game, and if it had gone on any longer, I couldn’t have handled it, and I’m sure (Classical coach) Tom (Sawyer) couldn’t have either.”

Peabody 57, Beverly 41

Tanners coach Stan McKeen knew it’d be a long winter break if his team went into it 0-3, but fortunately for Peabody, it got the first win of the season out of the way against Beverly.

Sophomore Liz Zaiter had the hot hand, scoring 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Nene Onuwuogo had a big game as well with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Serena Laro and Katie Wallace played excellent defense for Peabody, and Wallace did a good job running the offense at point guard.

Saugus 40, Marblehead 34

Krissy Italiano put up a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to help lead Saugus to a win, while Kiley Ronan chipped in eight points and five steals. Alessia Salzillo and Molly Granara each scored seven points in the win.

The undefeated Sachems (3-0) will hit the road for a game against Malden on Wednesday.

Swampscott 53, Gloucester 42

Maggie DiGrande hit five three-pointers en route to 18 points to lead the way for the Big Blue, and Jaymie Caponigro had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Ella Parker also had a solid game with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Swampscott (3-1) is back in action on Tuesday when they take on Lynn English in the Walter J. Boverini Tournament.

Greater Lawrence 44, Lynn Tech 42

The Tigers fell in a close game despite a great all-around team effort, according to coach Kaitlyn Wechsler. Jamila Constantine scored 15 points to pace Tech, followed by Arianna Anaya with 11 points. Alondra Sanchez had eight points and Malvelis Hernandez scored six.

Winthrop 34, Salem 32

It came down to free throws in this one between the Vikings and the Witches, and Winthrop’s Cailyn Driscoll hit the two deciding free throws to give the Vikings the close win. Driscoll finished with 13 points to lead Winthrop.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Marblehead 57, Saugus 42

Patrick Bugler had a big day for the Magicians (3-2), finishing the game with 20 points. Derek Marino added 12 points in the win.

Marblehead will be back in action on Wednesday on the road at Masconomet.

Dimitri Filaretos led Saugus with 11 points, followed by Chris McGrane with nine points. Cam Williamson had a big night on the glass with six points and 10 rebounds, and Mike Mabee provided a spark off the bench with six points.

Gloucester 89, Swampscott 70

Despite the loss, Swampscott got an impressive performance from Tony Broadnax, who notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds while also adding six assists. Jackson Byrne contributed 10 points in the loss.

Gloucester was led by senior captain Evan Mason’s 21 points.

The Big Blue will have all of next week off before returning to action on January 3 on the road at Marblehead.

BOYS HOCKEY

St. Mary’s 4, Hingham 1

After trailing 1-0 entering the third period, the Spartans (2-2-0) rattled off four unanswered goals to steal a victory from Hingham in the consolation game of the Serino Christmas Tournament at Valley Forum in Malden on Thursday evening.

“To come back against a team like Hingham, one of the top-ranked teams in the state, was really good to see,” said St. Mary’s coach Mark Lee. “It took a total team effort to pull this one out, and I’m really proud of all our guys for how hard they worked.”

Anthony Bono led the way with two goals, while Jason Loeser and Kyle Ouellette added a goal apiece. Dante Maribito contributed two assists in the win.

St. Mary’s will host Lowell Catholic next Thursday.

SWIMMING

Bishop Fenwick 91, Marian 68

Catherine Christuk and Sophia Lumino each scored multiple wins in the pool for the Crusaders on Thursday. Christuk won the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 9.13 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:12.88), while Lumino took the 200 individual medley (2:21.03) and the 500 freestyle (5:33.56). Other individual winners for Fenwick were Connor Christuk in the 50 freestyle (23.86) and Rowan Emerson in the 100 freestyle (58.60).

The Crusaders also had three relay teams take first place. The 200 medley relay team of Emerson, Connor Christuk, Garrett Collins and Michael D’Iorio won with a time of 1:54.13, the 200 freestyle relay team of D’Iorio, Lumino, Connor Christuk and Bryce McCarthy won the a time of 1:50.06 and the 400 freestyle relay team of Emerson, McCarthy, Collins and Catherine Christuk won with a time of 4:08.33.