Meghan Gotham

NEC Basketball All-Stars Announced

Paris Wilkey (right), a star player for the Rams, was named NEC co-player of the year. 

Lynn Classical’s Paris Wilkey was named co-player of the year for Northeastern Conference girls basketball along with Revere’s Valentina Pepic.

At last week’s meeting of coaches for both girls and boys, Patrick Bugler of Marblehead was named the boys player of the year and Mike Giardi, also of Marblehead, was named coach of the year. The Magicians were seeded second in the Division 2 boys North tournament before losing a quarterfinal game to Malden Catholic.
Mark Schruender, who directed Saugus to its best season in more than 30 years, was named the girls coach of the year. The Sachems finished the regular season at 16-6 before falling to Bishop Fenwick in first round the state tournament.
Making the boys all-conference team were Pat Gavin, center, Beverly; Bugler; and Jaylen Johnson, Lynn Classical, guards; and Evan Mason, Gloucester; Junior Estrella, Peabody; and Edwin Solis, Classical, forwards.
The girls all-conference team consisted of Wilkey, Melissa Gray, Peabody; Pamela Gonzalez, Revere; and Nicole White, Danvers, guards; and Pepic and Olivia Valente, Saugus, forwards.
Saugus won the sportsmanship award for the boys while Beverly received it for the girls.

Boys all-stars were Hugh Calice, Luigi Derrane and Justin Roberto, Beverly; Marc Smith and Ben Oliver, Gloucester; Ivy Lopes and Javonte Edwards, English; Erick Solis, Dyrrell Rucker and Gilbert Minaya, Classical; Bo Millett, Derek Marino and Justin Faia, Marblehead; Matt D’Amato and Moisse Irizarry, Peabody; Curtis High and Marvin Urdaneta, Revere; Matthew Waggett, Saugus; Nate Lebron, Salem; Jake McIntyre, Swampscott; Tayjaun McKenzie and Devin Pulsifer, Winthrop.

Girls all-stars are Natalie Mellinger and Tia Bernard, Beverly; Sarah Unczur and Elizabeth Montanari, Danvers; Megan Manning and Jenna Muniz, Gloucester; Lindsay Walker and Ashley Styles, Marblehead; Jeylly Medrano and Soneta Srey, Classical; Dorathy Ezamba, English; Katie Wallace and Chinenye Onwuogu, Peabody; Tatiana Iacoviello and Meaghan Gotham, Revere; Krissy Italiano and Alessia Salzillo, Saugus; Emily Fabre, Salem; Jaymie Caponigro and Nikki Rosa, Swampscott; Allie Love, Winthrop.

Central Catholic rallies to beat Revere

Pamela Gonzalez of Revere drives to the hoop. 


REVERE — It wouldn’t be too callous to say that the Central Catholic girls basketball team taught Revere a valuable lesson Friday night at the Roland Merullo Fieldhouse.

The Patriots, who at one time this season were the state’s top-rated team, looked strong coming out of the gate in their Division 1 North semifinal game, and led by six at the break. But the Raiders, true to their longstanding pedigree as one of the top teams in the state, rallied in the final two quarters to take a 68-62 win, and move onto the sectional semifinal next week against Woburn.

Central coach Casey Grange, in her second year in Lawrence, thought her team was just a little mentally tougher down the stretch and that spelled the difference.

“I think day in and day out, we play a much tougher schedule than they do,” said Grange, comparing the up-and-down strong Merrimack Valley Conference to the Northeastern Conference, in which Revere was undefeated. “You have to bring it every night when you play the games we play.”

Revere’s Lianne O’Hara didn’t disagree.

“I do think mental toughness is a factor,” she said. “I like mental toughness.”

And she did feel that coming down the stretch, when the points were harder to come by, and every possession was contested, Central outplayed her team.

“We went through a stretch in the third and fourth quarter where they trapped us and three straight times, we turned it over before we got to halfcourt,” O’Hara said. “And then, we we did get it over, we still turned it over.”

While it was a game of two halves (Revere winning the first and Central the second), the game was the Patriots’ for the taking just the same. With Central up by six (59-53) Emily DiGiulio hit a big 3-pointer with 46 seconds left in the game. After a Central miss on the other end, Revere came back down the court and got the ball to guard Pamela Gonzalez (team-high 17 points), who put up a reverse layup that looked as if it was climbing up the rim and going in. But it didn’t have the juice and it fell out. Still, she was fouled.

So what would have been a potential game-tying 3-point play was instead two made free throws and a 1-point deficit (59-58).

Making things even more agonizing for Revere, Central threw the inbounds pass away, giving Revere a golden opportunity to take the lead with 25.1 seconds to go.

But Revere had two attempts, including a put-back attempt by Meaghan Gotham (8 points) that missed. When the Raiders trapped on the ensuing Revere possession, a fouled was called on Revere, and Nicole Elbeery (game-high 19 points) hit both free throws to get the lead back up to three with 13.1 seconds left. The Patriots couldn’t convert down the other end, and Elbeery hit one more freebie to ice the game.

“We needed to be better finishing,” said Gonzalez. “We played much better in the first half.

“I feel so bad for our seniors,” said Gonzalez, a junior. “They are really hurting. I want to come back and I want to win it for them next year, because they really deserved this.”

Revere scored the first eight points of the game before Central could score a basket, and the Patriots led 18-9 after one. Central made a slight comeback in the second quarter and trailed at the half, 32-26.

Gonzalez and Gotham scored back-to-back hoops to open the third quarter, giving Revere a 10-point lead (36-26), which was its high-water mark. The Raiders went on an 18-6 run after that to close the quarter up by two, 44-42.

Another Gotham-Gonzalez back-to-back gave Revere the lead back, 46-44, but, once again, Central got hot and ran off an 11-0 spurt to go up 55-46.

But Revere made inroads with its own 7-2 spurt, setting the stage for the dramatic ending.

“It was a learning experience,” said O’Hara, who was an assistant on last year’s Division 3 state champion Bishop Fenwick team. “It was a great season. I really, really wish we’d have been able to finish this game, but I have some strong juniors coming back next year, so I hope we’re back.”

School Roundup: Peabody girls clinch tournament bid

Melissa Gray and the Tanners clinched a spot in the state tournament with Tuesday’s win. 


After missing out on a chance at the state tournament last year, the Peabody girls basketball team punched its ticket to the state tournament with a 44-42 win over Northeastern Conference opponent Beverly on Tuesday night.

“We talked about it a little before the game tonight,” said Peabody coach Stan McKeen. “Last year, we had nine wins and lost our final two games to miss the tournament. So this year, we wanted to get it done as soon as possible, and we were able to do it with five games left in the season. It feels great and I’m very proud of all the work the girls have done.”

Melissa Gray led the way in this one, almost notching a rare triple-double with 25 points, nine rebounds and eight steals. Alyssa Alperen had seven points and Catherine Manning played a great defensive game.

The Tanners will face a tough test on Friday night when they take on a 14-4 Saugus team at home.


Revere 65, English 33

The Patriots continued their strong season Tuesday night at home, cruising to a win over the Bulldogs. Revere had three players score in double-figures, as Valentina Pepic led with 14 points, Pamela Gonzalez added 12 and  Meghan Gotham chipped in 10.

Saugus 45, Marblehead 26

Olivia Valente had 14 points to lead the way for the Sachems, who improved to 14-4 with the win. Krissy Italiano added 10 points, while Rachel Nazzaro had six assists in the win.

“I think the key for us was having a great defensive performance,” said Saugus coach Mark Schruender. “That really helped us gain a lead and then hold onto it for the rest of the game.”

Saugus will take on Peabody on the road Friday night.

Cambridge Comm. Charter 42, KIPP 38

KIPP senior Favour Ofuokwu just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds as the Panthers fell to 9-3 on the year. Junior Nayeli Germosen had seven points and rebounds, while senior Krystal Campbell and sophomore Naudia Resnek both played well defensively.

KIPP will play a road game against Foxborough Regional Charter on Wednesday night.

Archbishop Williams 59, Bishop Fenwick 31

With the loss, the Crusaders drop to 10-6 on the season.


Marblehead 77, Saugus 37

The Magicians had 12 players score in their big victory at home on Tuesday night, led by Derek Marino’s 14 points and three steals. Bo Millett added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Marblehead got off to a hot start on the defensive end, forcing turnovers and getting Saugus out of rhythm early on.

“Our focus was to put a lot of pressure on them defensively, and it worked out well,” said Marblehead coach Mike Giardi. “We got them off their game pretty early and then were able to take control from there.”

The Magicians (15-2) now have a huge Northeastern Conference matchup with Lynn Classical on Friday night.

For Saugus (6-11), Cam Williamson led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Keyshawn Redden-Lee had nine points. The Sachems will travel to Peabody to face the Tanners on Friday.

Peabody 66, Beverly 60

Peabody improved to 11-6 with a close win over Beverly on Tuesday, led by Matt D’Amato’s 16 points and four assists. Moise Irizarry had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Jake Irvine had 12 points. Chubukem Onwuogo contributed eight points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

The Tanners will take on Saugus at home on Friday night.

For Beverly (9-6), Pat Gavin had a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Luigi Derrane had 14 points, while Hugh Calice had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Bishop Fenwick 77, Archbishop Williams 63

It was a big night for Fenwick senior captain Ryan Veguilla, who finished with 26 points in the win. Klaus Llanaj also had a great night, finishing with 19 points. The Crusaders will take on Arlington Catholic on the road on Friday night.

Salem 70, Winthrop 64

The Witches earned a state tournament berth with a close win over Winthrop on Tuesday night. Anthony Pena led the way with 21 points, while Vinnie Gaskins added 18 points and five rebounds. Henny Vlaun had 10 points in the win.

Salem will take on Beverly on Friday night.

GIRLS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: English defense steps up

Ely Guity and the Bulldogs closed out a win over Gloucester on Tuesday. 


The Lynn English girls basketball team has struggled to close out games this season. Tuesday night, they finally finished a game the way they’d hope to. Behind a number of key stops down the stretch, English downed Gloucester, 52-46.

“They played together and they played hard,” English coach Mackenzie Charles said of his players. “We played really good defense with key stops at the end of the game. We haven’t finished a game all season, we’ve been having problems with that. We’ve been struggling with rebounds so I think the combination of those things equalled a win.”

Dorathy Ezemba led the winning efforts with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“She (Ezemba) rebounded well,” Charles said. “She pushes the ball well and she’s very physical.”

Ely Guity scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished five assists.

“She (Guity) had a great game, five of her rebounds were on the offensive glass,” Charles said. Charles also credited Rachel Calnan and Shelya Manon for their performances in the win. English is back in action on Friday when the Bulldogs visit Marblehead. “We’ll get back to practice tomorrow and work hard,” Charles said. “We understand this in a win but Friday’s another game.”

Lynn Tech 44, Greater Lawrence 28

Alondra Sanchez had the hot hand offensively for the Tigers, putting up 17 points. Annmarie Texiera added eight and Jamila Constantine scored six. Malvelis Hernandez was solid on defense.

The Tigers (3-5) had to climb back from an early 8-0 deficit, but coach Kaitlyn Wechsler said that after a few timeouts and conversations with her team, something clicked.

“We turned up the pressure and worked very well together,” Wechsler said. “It was like a switch flipped and we started to figure it out. It was an overall great team win.”

Revere 65, Swampscott 56

A tied game after a quarter, the Patriots outscored the Big Blue 21-6 in the second quarter to pull away. Despite putting up 24 points in the third, Swampscott couldn’t claw all the way back into this one.

Valentina Pepic led Revere with 24 points, Pamela Gonzalez added 18 and Meghan Gotham chipped in with 10.

Archbishop Williams 77, Bishop Fenwick 44

Sam Mancinelli logged 15 points for the Crusaders, five assists and four steals, while Fredi DeGuglielmo added 14 points and Jaxson Nadeau had eight points and four steals.

Peabody 53, Salem 32

The Tanners (3-3) got 13 points from Melissa Gray and nine points and 14 rebounds from Nene Onwuogu. Katie Wallace had eight points.

Peabody will take on Winthrop on Friday night.

Revere girls basketball cruises past Arlington

Meaghan Gotham holds tight to a rebound for Revere.


REVERE — Behind a great defensive effort and a balanced scoring attack, the No. 4-seeded Revere Patriots girls basketball team defeated the No. 13-seeded Arlington Spy Ponders, 64-39, in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 North sectional tournament. With the win, Revere improves to 18-5 on the season.

“I thought that we started out aggressive today, especially defensively,” said Revere coach Diana Finn. “We’ve been working really hard over the past couple of weeks to control the glass and to defend and then to finish on the offensive side from that. I was happy with our effort tonight.”

Senior forward Maritza Scott led the way for the Patriots, scoring 19 points. Sophomore forward Valentina Pepic had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, while junior center Meghan Gotham had 10 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Ally Hinojosa had 10 points and five rebounds, and sophomore guard Pamela Gonzalez had eight points and seven rebounds.

“This is what we pride ourselves on; the fact that we have a balanced attack of forwards and guards,” said Finn. “Oftentimes our forwards dominate the ball because of their size, but our guards are excellent shooters and they anticipate well defensively.”

The first quarter was back and forth, with a good amount of scoring on both sides. Revere was able to make more shots, and the Patriots held on to a 20-12 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Revere was able to really stretch its lead. Part of the reason was because of good offensive play, but the real story in the second quarter was Revere’s defense. The Patriots only gave up two points to Arlington throughout the entire quarter and walked into the locker room with a 31-14 lead at the half.

“That quarter was big for us,” said Finn. “It allowed us to get a cushion and take some more chances, which turned into more opportunities.”

Revere’s strong play continued into the second half and the Patriots continued to stretch out the lead. The Patriots led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter before the substitutes came into the game.

Revere will now move on to the second round of the tournament, where it will face No. 5-seed Lexington (18-5).

“We know they’re tough, and we know we have a lot of work to do,” said Finn.

Mike Alongi can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @m_alongi