Sweet 16 of 2007
Region – Before we welcome the new 2008 sports year, we'll pause to take a look at a sensational 2007 and the top 16 local sports stories. We'll look at spots 9 through16 this week, followed by the Elite Eight countdown next week. Enjoy, agree or not, and relive the memories; that's what this is all about.
#16 – Westborough wins 9th Clark hoop title
If it is February school vacation break and you are a high school hoop fan, you are probably paying close attention to the annual Clark Basketball Tournament. Few fans pay as much attention as Westborough fans, and that focus was high last winter as the Rangers get into this year's top story rundown by virtue of their Clark Tourney hoop win, their ninth championship here.
Westborough defeated first-time large-school finalist Hudson, 50-34, to win the championship. Pete Orlando led the Rangers, scoring 14 points, grabbing seven boards, but it was the Rangers' defense that really stood out in the Rangers' three wins here. Westborough held opponents to less than 40 points in each game.
#15 – Shrewsbury, Algonquin win
The area's success in boys and girls lacrosse continued as the Shrewsbury girls and Algonquin boys won CMass championships. Shrewsbury won a thrilling 15-14 championship match against Algonquin. Shrewsbury girls fought back from a pair down at the half. The Colonials' Michaela Tinsley had five goals, and Kristy Benoit had a big game with three goals and six assists, and goalie Alyssa Palomba
The boys CMASS finals was a much more defensive-minded affair as Algonquin's boys won their second title in the last three, with a 5-3 win over Shrewsbury. After a challenging regular season, the T-Hawks got it right in the playoffs when Steve Lesnikowski scored the winning goal in the third quarter.
#14 – Algonquin girls win fifth straight track title
Algonquin girls track program continued its run of successes, winning their fifth straight, Class A, CMass Track and Field Championship. Athletes come into the program, win, new ones come in, and fill in the spots, and the THawks continue to win. In addition to the credit of the girls that have come through the program, some of the credit of that kind of success goes to coach Lisa Danielson and her assistants.
In the class championship, Algonquin edged Wachusett as the T-Hawks won four events on the day including Rachael Ackley, 100-meter hurdles and triple jump; Danielle DePalo, pole vault; and the 3,200-meter relay team of Alison Trzaskos, Christy Loftus, Emily Lemmerman and Faith Clayton.
#13 – Westborough girls hoop team runs unbeaten to finals
While it didn't end the way they would have wanted, Westborough's girls basketball team had an incredible season, unbeaten, winning 22 straight games until a loss to Holy Name in the D1 CMass finals.
Coach Scott Kittredge's Rangers seniors included Jill Jones, Alli Leclair, Nora Carroll and 1,000-plus career point scorer Marybeth Ash. Despite the disappointing ending at WPI in the finals, it was a thrilling season for the team's followers. The fans came to see a team that played the game from baseline to baseline, playing a relentless pressure defense that flustered many of their opponents, and an offense that fast broke at every opportunity.
The St. John's Pioneers hold arguably the most dominant, impressive win streak of all of CMass sports. The streak has been alive longer than many of the athletes on the current team. Last spring the Pioneers won their 17th straight CMass outdoor track and field relays title. That comes off a winter season where they won their sixth straight indoor championship.
At the Robert Duncan Relays last April, St. John's defeated runner-up Westborough to keep their string alive. The Pioneers won five of the events. The relays meet really tests the overall depth of a school's track and field program. Every event is considered a relay, even the field events. A school's top finishers (three or four depending on the event) are scored. So unlike some track championships that can be determined by a few outstanding, individual performances, success at the relays, especially unprecedented long-term success such as this one, goes to the core of a program.
#11 – Westborough
on top of CMass tennis
Westborough boys and girls were on top of the high school tennis world as both teams won CMass championships. The girls team, the top seed in the tourney, defeated Wachusett, 3-2, in the finals, their third title in four years under coach Nancy Quimby. The Rangers were led by their top singles player Marybeth Ash.
The boys broke through with a 4-1 win over St. John's in the CMass finals, snapping the Pioneers' fiveyear win streak. The Rangers had won 22 without a loss before losing to Falmouth in the state finals. Ranger coach Peter Allen called the team the strongest we've ever had at the school.
#10 – Marlborough takes indoor track title
Marlborough High continues to elevate its track and field program with an eye-opening division 1 CMass indoor championship last February. The Panthers had a third-place and three fourth-place finishes in the last four years. The lady Panthers' victory snapped usual dominant Wachusett's 14-year win streak.
The Panthers were led by the performances of freshman Allyson Oram, who won the mile in a blazing 5:19.4, and senior captain Christina Kunycky, winner at 1,000 meters.
It was really a team effort. Shrewsbury and Marlborough were both at the top, but the closing relay races proved to be the difference as Marlborough won both the 4×400 and 4×800, winning four of the day's final six events.
#9 – Assabet wins 10 straight, earns grid playoff spot
Big time football has returned to Assabet Valley as coach Rob McCann's Aztecs rolled through their regular season schedule finishing an eye-popping 10-2. After losing their first game of the season to Hudson, Assabet rolled to 10 straight closing out the regular season.
Assabet played an exciting brand of football, posting 28 points or more in eight of their regular season games.
Playing in the Division 3A football playoffs, Assabet's Super Bowl dream ended with a hard-luck 14-12 loss to Valley Tech. The Aztecs made several appearances in the CMass media top 10 poll, and finished 10th in the final media vote.
Next week, we'll continue our countdown with the Elite Eight local sports stories of 2007.
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