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Sweeney: Saying Farewell to High School Winter Season

March 15, 2019

Another season, gone.

At 8:47 p.m. Wednesday, as the final buzzer sounded at Worcester State University’s Brissette Court, the winter interscholastic sports season here in Northern Worcester County came to its inevitable conclusion. And with the exception of Worcester Tech’s boys -- sorry Dover-Sherborn, you are not from Central Mass. -- all of Central Mass. basketball is completed.

While we’ll turn our attention to the outdoor spring sports in a matter of hours, we need to take a glimpse back over the last 110 days or so, in hodgepodge style...

Seriously, what a season for both the Monty Tech and Nashoba Regional girls’ basketball teams. Two Central Mass. championships, a Voke title for the Bulldogs, 43 wins between the two. Just amazing.

And what an end to the interscholastic careers of Monty Tech’s Emily St. Thomas and Erica Regan. Both from Sterling, both 1,000-point scorers four days apart, and we can’t forget that they are the top two scorers in Bulldog girls’ hoops history. An incredible four years for those two, and I can see both of them coaching -- St. Thomas should connect with Lunenburg/Holy Cross’ Chris Grautski; with her speed, she can learn from the best as a speed coach -- in some capacity in the future.

As I wrote Wednesday, I think the future is really bright for Scott Malboeuf’s side: Ashley Femino will be a junior next season, and she has that point guard spot on lockdown. The way she came away with a backdoor steal and got the ball out to Ashley Girouard for a hoop at the end of the third quarter was just tenacious.

And Arianna Saladini can be the next big player for Monty Tech if she continues to work on her situational game, knowing when to use the glass in certain areas in the quarter court, and so on. Really looking forward to the next three years of following her. The Bulldogs are not done.

You want to know who else I think will have coaching in her future? Oakmont Regional’s Kylie Lison. She surged over 1,000 points in January and helped get her Spartans to the Central Mass. semifinals. Can’t tell you how much my heart broke for the Spartan seniors last week against Sutton.

And how about Sabrina Patton over at St. Bernard’s? A quiet, unassuming young lady who broke 1,000 points in a game against Fitchburg, and was a calming influence for the Bernardians. Kate DelleChiaie will have big shoes to fill next season.

Getting back to Nashoba: That’s four team titles for the Chieftains this school year. Field hockey, football (Central Mass. and state), and now girls’ hoops. Who gets the title this spring? Eager to see what the softball team does under Tina Seabury.

Things I want the Leominster boys’ basketball team to get better at in the offseason? Keeping your heads against the big boys of Mid-Wach A. Big shoes to fill in Givensky Pierre-Louis, the annual Coach Ron Mazzaferro Award winner. But there are some shooters over on Granite Street, and Janier Cora Huetas... big human. Weight room, Janier -- and play football, too.

Fitchburg boys’ basketball, class. I like what Danny Ortiz is building. He told me after the second Leominster game that big things are coming, and I believe it. Can 2019-20 be the end of the 28-year Central Mass. title drought for the Red and Gray?

Definitely want to send a shout-out to Kelsey Johnston, the former St. Bernard’s and Fitchburg State women’s basketball standout. She’s doing solid things over at Sizer, and she was named Worcester County Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. Incredible.

Wondering what the future of ice hockey in the area is ... one playoff team, most teams out of it by the middle of January. Good work by Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley on returning to the Central Mass. Division 3A final.

And now, the gyms will go quiet; so, too, will the Civic Center, Iorio, and the Sports Center in Marlboro. It’s time to break out those bats and gloves, the lacrosse sticks and helmets, and it’s time to think spring.

Who will be the baseball team to beat in our neighborhood? Obviously, Leominster and Nashoba will be neck and neck in Central Mass. Division 1. ... Pat Gallagher returns for his final bow before he heads to UConn; the Blue Devils just missed out on a title last June.

So, too, did Monty Tech in softball -- the lone softball team to get through the quarterfinals.

And in lacrosse, can mighty St. Bernard’s make a run?

Answers to these questions and more, coming soon.