Monthly Archives: February 2008

Masco Girls Excel in Regular Season

I interviewed Masco girls’ coach Bob Romeo recently (February 27th) about the terrific 19-1 regular season his team just finished.Masco coaches 2-27-08

(Pictured is Coach Romeo with his assistants: JV coach Becky Iseman, freshman coach Karen Babbitt, assistant coach Leo Burke)

The Chieftains returned three starters from a 20-3 squad that reached the Division 2 North semifinals last year.  A look at this season’s stats indicates that each of those returning starters (Annie Burns, Jamie White, and Caroline Stewart) has been significant in the success of the 2007-08 squad.  Annie is the assists leader, Jamie the steals leader, and Caroline leads in just about everything else.

Caroline’s per-game double/double (17 points/12 rebounds) has gotten her to the Boston Herald All-Scholastic level twice.  Even better for the 6-footer has been the full basketball scholarship she recently accepted to Boston University.

New starters this year are junior Krissi DiBenedetto (7+ points per game) and senior Meredith DeAngelis.  “One of the unsung heroes on this year’s team is Meredith,” said Coach Romeo.  “She’s just 5-7 but we usually put her on the other team’s biggest kid.  She’s our defensive stopper.”

The Masco girls were 13-0 in the Cape Ann League and had to defeat their archrival Pentucket in the process.  “Pentucket was the favorite to win the league and we beat them here by two points (55-53) in a whale of a game.  We were down by six with a couple minutes left but we came all the way back and iced it with free throws at the end.”

Masco’s only loss was in Game 3 against nonleague Cardinal Spellman in overtime.  Coach Romeo contended that the loss did his team a lot of good.  “Cardinal Spellman was ranked #1 in Eastern Massachusetts so we knew that they would be tough but that’s what we want in the nonleague part of our schedule.  We played great against them but at the end both Caroline and Jamie fouled out.  The good that came out of this was that we had to put inexperienced sophomores (Julie Galvin and Carly Kiernan) into the fire and they gained valuable experience.  It also was an important lesson to Caroline and Jamie that their value to us in on the court not fouling people.”

The Chieftains rolled off 17 straight wins after the Cardinal Spellman loss and were seeded #1 in Division 2 North. 

I asked the 6th-year coach to compare this team to other one’s he’s coached at Masco.  “I’ve been told that this may not be the most talented team I’ve ever had but it could be the best.  It may well be that these kids are more in synch with each other.  They spend a lot of time together away from the court.”

One of the team’s most positive supporters is Jamie’s father (Jo Jo White – Boston Celtics).  “The only words we get from him are words of encouragement.  I know that during the off-season he’s done a lot of work with Jamie.”

The team will need to win four games to get to the Division 2 championship game in Worcester on March 15th.   It could well happen.

(Appeared in The Town Common in an issue dated March 5th)

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Ryan O’Connell Sets Scoring Record at St. John’s Prep

(Danvers)  Senior Night at St. John’s Prep was, “awesome,” according to 18-year-old Ryan O’Connell of Ipswich.

Maureen Ryan O'Connell 2-14-08Who could argue with his assessment after seeing him honored (as a senior) and then get himself into the St. John’s basketball record book as their all-time scorer.   Add that the Eagles defeated visiting Malden High 77-73, he put up 31 points, and you can understand what he meant by “awesome.”

Ryan, pictured here with his mother Maureen,  may be a 6-3 sharpshooter but St. John’s Coach Dan Letarte was quick to mention that Ryan’s abilities go beyond basketball.  “No question that he is a student/athlete.  His grade point average is 3.5.  He’ll be going to Bowdoin (Brunswick, Maine) in the fall.”

“I chose Bowdoin because I wanted to get into the best academic school I could get into and play basketball at,” explained Ryan after the game.

Before the game, however, the talk at St. John’s on Valentine’s Day evening wasn’t about grades it was about Ryan needing four points to pass Matt Symmes and become the school’s top scorer.  Sporting a 25-point average, you knew it wasn’t a matter of if he would get the points needed but when it would happen.

Ryan was stymied by an effective box-and-one defense in the first period but erupted for 27 points in the second and third periods.  The record-breaking basket came at the end of a 2-on-1 fast break with sophomore playmaker Brendan Felder.  “Brendan told me that he wanted to get the assist on the record-breaking basket and he did.”

Ryan’s first four baskets in this game were two-pointers and then the long-range shots started to fall.  He made five of the next six 3’s he tried despite being tightly defended. 

Coach Letarte has encouraged Ryan to shoot the long-range shot.  “He shoots 52% from out there and he’s not afraid to take that shot at any time in the game. I have confidence in him.”

“I played the post as a freshman on the JV team,” said Ryan.  “I realized as a sophomore that I wasn’t tall enough to play that position on the varsity so that’s when I started working on my 3-point shooting and that’s been my specialty.”

The consistent release and rotation on his 3-point shots comes from hours of practice.  Ryan is a regular at the Ipswich Y.  “I know for a fact that either before practice or after practice he’ll go over to the Ipswich Y and put up 200 three-pointers and work on his ball-handling skills,” said Coach Letarte.

An injury to a starting St. John’s guard put Ryan into the starting lineup in Game #10 of his sophomore year.  “It was against BC High the eventual Number 1 seed in the North,” recalled Coach Letarte.  “Ryan scored 24 points and became a fixture in the starting lineups thereafter”.

On hand to witness Ryan’s record-setting performance, and pass congratulations his way, were many of his friends from Ipswich including Tiger coach Doug Woodworth. 

(Submitted to The Town Common on February 15, 2008)


Filed under Ipswich, Ryan O'Connell, Town Common

I Voted for Barack Obama

Barrack Obama

I am writing to congratulate myself for voting for Barack Obama and being part of his 28-vote victory in Newburyport in the Democrat primary.

My vote was not based on Mr. Obama’s skin color because I’m not a racist.  I do admit,however, that I do not watch BET (Black Entertainment Television) or support the United Negro College Fund because they’re racist.

My vote was not based on Barack’s middle name, “Hussein.” That middle name is part of his Moslem background.  If I let his background factor into my vote, I would be a racist and I’m not.  However, if I learned that his hand was going to be on the Koran instead of the Bible when he was sworn in to the presidency I would vote against him.  That’s not being racist. That is believing that the Bible, not the Koran, contains the truths that I want my leader to pledge allegiance to.

My vote was not based on Barack being against the war in Iraq.  Barack was in the State Senate, not the US Senate, when the vote for that war took place.  If he had been confronted with the same evidence that President Bush and Hillary Clinton were confronted with he would have voted to go ahead with the war. 

My vote was not based on Barack’s belief that abortion should be available in all nine months of pregnancy.  I am opposed to abortion and consider the slaughter of unborn children to be a horrific tragedy.

My vote is not based on Barack’s willingness to put an end to some of the tax cuts that have been enacted during the current administration.  I defy anyone to explain to me how sending me out into the buying world with less money is going to help the economy. 

My vote is not based on Barack’s talk of unifying the country.  I believe that his idea of “unity” is for me to change my previously held positions and switch to his.  I have a right to my opinion even if it disagrees with his opinion.  Labeling opinions that are different from his, “divisive,” is a step toward trying to shut off constructive dialogue. 

My vote is not based on the endorsements of Senator Kerry and Senator Kennedy.  Those two are the punch lines of jokes in any comic setting.  Kerry was offered $1 million to clear up the controversy surrounding his service in the Vietnam War.  He proved that either he didn’t need the money or he couldn’t clear his name by taking no action.  Kennedy looked out his ocean-side window and decided that his view was more important than a wind energy program that would lower electricity rates on the Cape.

So why did I vote for Barack Obama?  Quite simply it was a vote against Hillary Clinton. 

At a dinner party recently, I heard someone say that they were voting for Hillary because, “she was the only one that they could trust.”  You’re right, it stunned me too!  If past performance means anything, Hillary is the one that can’t be trusted.

Let me make a prediction: Barack Obama is going to get the Democrat nomination but during the trip to also-rans, the Clintons are going to tear that party apart.  It gives me pleasure to think that I may have had a hand in that process in a voting booth at the Brown School.

( Appeared in both the Newburyport Current and the Newburyport Daily News on February 15, 2008. )

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Filed under Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Iraq, Newburyport, Newburyport Current, Newburyport Daily News, President George Bush, Senator John Kerry, Senator Ted Kennedy

Hillary Clinton Finds a Friend?

Super Tuesday

Please don’t tell the senator from New York that the only support she received from me on Super Tuesday was propping up her sign.

Truth be told, I voted for Obama in the hope of lessening the Hillary margin in Massachusetts. I couldn’t imagine Mitt needing my help in his own state.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton