Around The Rim with Bob Whitney

Around The Rim Whitney Social

By Bob Whitney 

Some random thoughts after looking around at the local and national basketball landscape.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)/Big Ten Conference (B1G) Basketball Challenge is always at the top of my viewing list each year – I love channel surfing.

This year, the Big 10 Conference reigned supreme with some impressive showings by Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State.

Purdue absolutely dismantled Virginia and exposed the ‘Hoos offensive shortcomings while Ohio State throttled North Carolina. It’s early but Ohio State is looking like they have the horsepower to make a run to the Final Four next April.

Speaking of the ACC, Boston College is on a four-game losing spin and facing a rigorous conference road trip this Saturday at Norte Dame. A highly-touted freshman class must grow up in a hurry or the Eagles will once again reside in the ACC’s bottom quartile.

Save the date: current No. 1 Louisville will visit Conte Forum on Jan. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Carl Pierre, who played high school basketball at Boston College High School, is having an excellent season at UMass. The 2017 Catholic Conference MVP and two-time conference all-star selection is currently averaging 12 points per game.

Pierre and the Minutemen will visit Harvard on Saturday, December 7th with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. UMass will attempt to snap a four-game skid, which began prior to Thanksgiving with a 58-46 setback to Virginia. Harvard enters the non-conference clash at 4-4 – the Crimson have lost two-straight since beating Texas A&M last Thursday. 

Newton North’s Ethan Wright has seen an uptick in playing time this season with the Princeton Tigers. The second-year guard has logged 93 minutes in six contests this season – he even started a game last month against Indiana. Wright has scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. He has pulled down 13 rebounds, including two offensive caroms to go along with five assists and two blocks.

Wright and the Tigers sit at 1-6 and are scheduled to compete next Tuesday, December 10th against Monmouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Coach Trish Brown and the Stonehill College women’s basketball team are off to an impressive 6-2 start. Sure, their lone setbacks have come against Bentley and Molloy, but they have been fun to watch, especially in their last two contests against Assumption College and Franklin Pierce.

Emily Bramanti, who played locally for Westford Academy, credited all of her teammates in their most recent win against the Ravens for stepping-up and making plays when needed.

“That is just the greatness of our team is that any night anybody can step-up and play, so it’s really exciting to see how far we can get going,” she said following the Skyhawks’ 68-59 win over the Ravens.

Bramanti concluded her team’s eighth contest with a team-high 16 points.

Stonehill hosts Saint Anselm College on Saturday before heading to Daytona Beach Florida two weeks later to compete in the Daytona Beach Shootout.

Finally, the Babson College men’s basketball team scored an exciting and impressive win last night over Amherst CollegeFrank Oftring, who grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts netted a career-high 30 points in the win to go along with 10 rebounds.

Babson’s Andrew Jaworski finished with 23 points with four of those points being recorded during the final 30 seconds of the second half.

Babson, which is 12-3 against the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dating back to the 2016-17 season, will look to continue its early-season momentum this weekend when they compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.

I’m getting ready to head back to warm and sunny Florida so I’ll be writing from the Sunshine State next week.

KEEP SHOOTING, Everyone!

Mass. High Schools: Games to Watch In Week Three (Sept. 19-21st)

GAMES TO WATCH HS WK3 2019

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Week three of the Massachusetts high school football season resumes today with Old Colony facing Keefe Tech which means its time to unveil our weekly games to watch and predictions, too.

Let’s see how we do this week – we have struggled the past few weeks with picks, but we think we have some good selections for today, tomorrow and Saturday!


Mass. High Schools: Games to Watch | Week Three

Old Colony at Keefe Tech (Thursday, Sept. 19th): The Cougars took care of business last week, defeating Avon-Holbrook 41-6 in their season-opener. Look for their week two effort to continue against Keefe Tech in Framingham. PREDICTION: Old Colony 28, Keefe Tech 17 

Newton North at Needham (Friday, Sept. 20th): This is a must-win for the Rockets, which have dropped back-to-back games against Natick and Tewksbury. Newton North’s Andrew Landry enjoyed a successful to start to his final season with the Tigers by tallying five touchdowns in a 33-0 win over Waltham last Saturday. PREDICTION: Newton North 30, Needham 14 

Latin Academy at Boston Latin (Friday, Sept. 20th): The Wolfpack are seeking their first win of the 2019 season, while the Dragons of Latin Academy enter Friday’s tilt with some momentum following a 16-14 win last week over Tech Boston. LA’s Robert Marek will be a player to watch in this game. PREDICTION: Latin Academy 21, Boston Latin 14 

Lynnfield at Medford (Friday, Sept. 20th): The Pioneers enjoyed a successful start to their 2019 season with a 43-7 win over Newburyport. Look for that momentum to continue against the Mustangs in Medford. PREDICTION: Lynnfield 30, Medford 10 

Millis at Lowell Catholic (Friday, Sept. 20th): Lowell Catholic enters week three as winners in their last two contests. They should continue that trend on Friday – look for a big game from Ryan PenrosePREDICTION: Lowell Catholic 21, Millis 10 

Watertown at Cambridge (Friday, Sept. 20th): The Raiders scored multiple points in the first half last week, while their defense provided a slew of challenges for the Arlington Catholic offense. Watertown will need both its offense and defense to duplicate its performance from last week against a Cambridge team that is averaging 32.5 points per game. PREDICTION: Watertown 30, Cambridge 22 

Malden at Somerville (Friday, Sept. 20th): Greater Boston League (GBL) play begins in Somerville on Friday – this is a tough matchup for a Golden Tornadoes squad that will tasked with finding ways to slow down Jamir Vernet and Louis MontinaPREDICTION: Somerville 32, Malden 10 

Lynn Classical at Danvers (Friday, Sept. 20th): The Falcons return to the gridiron after starting their season with 41-20 victory over Masconomet. Lynn Classical has faced some real challenges during the past two weeks and is eager to finally crack the win column. PREDICTION: Lynn Classical 35, Danvers 32 

North Quincy at Westwood (Friday, Sept. 20th): Jake Pfaff and the Wolverines used a total team effort to beat Medway last week. Look for Pfaff and company to continue last week’s success against North Quincy on Friday evening. PREDICTION: Westwood 28, North Quincy 13 

Walpole at Wellesley (Saturday, Sept. 21st): The Rebels look to bounce back from a 31-7 setback to Natick last week, while Wellesley looks to continue its early-season momentum. The Raiders’ defense has yielded 6.5 points through two contests. PREDICTION: Wellesley 22, Walpole 20

Lexington at Concord-Carlisle (Saturday, Sept. 21st): The Patriots’ special teams seemed to be the difference a week against Oliver Ames. Will they need that unit again against the Minutemen? PREDICTION: C-C 28, Lexington 21 

Medway at Norwood (Saturday, Sept. 21st): Look for Norwood to deliver first-year coach Manny Lopes his first win with the Mustangs. PREDICTION: Norwood 28, Medway 14 

Mass. High Schools: Needham Football 2019 Season Preview

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Needham High School football coach Doug Kopsco directs his players through a practice drill. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

For Doug Kopsco, his first season as the head coach of the Needham High School football team seemed to go pretty well.

Kopsco’s Rockets posted a winning record of 7-4 last fall, which included a postseason win over Newton North in the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) D1 South playoffs and an exciting one-point victory over archrival Wellesley on Thanksgiving Day.

Heading into his second season with his alma mater’s football program, Kopsco appears more relaxed. In fact, he seems to be enjoying his new role with the Rockets, who are expected to once again contend for a Bay State Conference (BSC) Herget title this fall. 

“Really at the end of the day, it isn’t about x’s and o’s. It is about the culture, it is about the kids and it is about the family enviornment,” said Kopsco, who was previously a coordinator for the Rockets football program before taking over for coach Dave Duffy last season.

“It’s one thing to preach it and talk about it, but it is another thing to invite that environment and share that environment, and get the kids involved with creating that culture. And I think these guys did a great job of that this year.”

Kopsco says what has made this season’s preseason so much fun has been the competition – there seems to be multiple positions up for grabs due to some graduation losses, especially on the offense.

“We have a ton of competition this year,” said Kopsco.

“Last year, I think we knew (who our starters would be), and that’s both gratifying and exciting … but this year, all spots are open, so everyone is working hard, everyone is pushing each other and there is no kind of gimme spots.”


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Needham’s 2019 Football Season Outlook

Needham’s 2018 SeasonThe Rockets enjoyed a successful first season under coach Doug Kopsco, winning five of seven regular-season contests along with one postseason game, too.

Their run toward an MIAA D1 South championship concluded in the semifinals with a 35-32 loss to Catholic Memorial, but Needham would close the season on a high note by defeating Wellesley, 14-13, on Thanksgiving Day.

Key DepaturesThe Rockets graduated some key pieces from last year’s offense, including tight end Matt Smith, who will be competing for Duke University this fall.

Jack Murmes, who was also a tight end, will be playing for Assumption College this season, while quarterback Charlie Ogletree will be suiting up for Bentley University.

Players to WatchTyler Reid returns for his final season – the senior tri-captain will be spotted in the backfield at halfback and is someone Kopsco will certainly rely on this season.

Odahri Hibberts returns for his final season – he will be lining up in the slot and at cornerback on defense.

Ryan Villa is back for his final season with the Rockets and will be playing offensive tackle and guard.

Filling the holes on defenseWith just two student-athletes returning on defense with starting experience, Kopsco and his staff will be looking for some new additions this fall to fill all three levels.

“We have on defense have two kids coming back that have starting experience, so it is all wide open,” said Kopsco, “but we have (had holes to fill on defense from previous seasons) and honestly, we ended up with some of our better defenses.”

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Upcoming ScrimmageNeedham will compete against Wayland (the game will be held at Weston) on Friday, August 30th. Kopsco is excited for his team to compete against another squad prior to their initial game of the 2019 season on Friday, September 6th at Natick.

Said Kopsco, “They are always super well-prepared, great coaching staff, and it is a wonderful time to test out where we are at this point of the season … it is a wonderful opportunity to see how much we have taken in so far.”

A challenging opening monthNeedham will certainly be tested in the first few weeks of the season when they compete against Natick (week one) and Tewksbury (week two) and Newton North (week three).

Tewksbury advanced to the MIAA D3 Super Bowl – they lost to Springfield Central at Gillette Stadium – but are expected to once again be a team to beat in Merrimack Valley Conference (MVC).

“We’re excited (about our upcoming games),” said Kopsco. “Natick’s awesome, great coaches and super-well prepared. This is going to be a super-competitive game. We won last year, but they won the year before, so I think it is a good chance to see how we can come out of the gates as a team and a family, and hopefully, we come out on top.

“(Tewksbury) is a great team. This is just a great team. They are very versatile on offense, they give you a lot of different looks, they can do a lot of different things to you, so we just need to (make sure) we’re prepared, ask good questions during the week and we need to make sure everyone knows their assignments.”

Coach Dave Duffy returns to the sidelinesAfter announcing his retirement last summer following a very impressive 19-years of coaching the Rockets, coach Dave Duffy has returned to Needham to help his former squad continue its recent success.

Kopsco is very excited to have his former coach back on the sidelines – he is certainly eager to learn more from him as the season progresses.

“We were very fortunate this year” to have coach Duffy back, explained Kopsco, who played fullback and linebacker for the Rockets before returning to the program as a defensive coordinator.

“I didn’t want to hound him too much, but I really always wanted to work with Roy Johan and Dave Duffy. I am still learning from both of them, (but) they are amazing coaches with 35 years of varsity experience between the two of them alone, so we’re really going to lean on them heavily this year to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”


Needham’s 2019 Schedule

  • Friday, September 6th – at Natick, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 13th – vs. Tewksbury, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 20th – vs. Newton North, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 27th – at Weymouth, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 4th – at Braintree, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 18th – vs. Milton, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, October 25th – vs. Walpole, 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 28th – at Wellesley, 10 a.m.

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Stay connected with our New England football coverage on Twitter at @Noontime_FB

Mass. High Schools Lax Notebook: Monday’s Eastern Mass. Rankings & Links

NS Mass Lax Notebook May 2019

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_HS 

A new week of high school lacrosse in Eastern Massachusetts is set to begin later today (and this evening), so let’s unveil our latest boys and girl’s lacrosse Top 10 polls, along with some news and links from across the world wide web.


Eastern Massachusetts Boy’s Lacrosse Top 10 | Monday, May 6th, 2019

  1. Lincoln-Sudbury
  2. Acton-Boxborough
  3. Medfield
  4. Xaverian Brothers
  5. Hingham
  6. Concord-Carlisle
  7. Winchester
  8. Duxbury
  9. St. John’s Prep (Danvers)
  10. Reading

On The Rise: Austin Prep, Bishop Fenwick, Boston College High School, Cohasset, Dover-Sherborn, Franklin, Foxborough, Marshfield, Melrose, Natick, Needham, Newton North, Norwell, St. Mary’s (Lynn), Wayland, and Westwood. 


Eastern Massachusetts Girl’s Lacrosse Top 10 | Monday, May 6th, 2019

  1. Notre Dame Academy (Hingham)
  2. Westwood
  3. Walpole
  4. Needham
  5. Norwell
  6. Lincoln-Sudbury
  7. Franklin
  8. Wellesley
  9. Concord-Carlisle
  10. Manchester-Essex

On The Rise: Chelmsford, Cohasset, Dover-Sherborn, Duxbury, Ipswich, King Phillip, Lexington, Marblehead, Natick, Newton North, North Andover, Reading, and Wayland 


News & Links from the Eastern Massachusetts Lacrosse World 


Stay connected with Noontime Sports’ Lacrosse coverage by following @NoontimeLax on Twitter! 

Mass. High Schools: Friday Roundup

NS High School Scoreboard

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_HS 

Friday was a busy day in the lacrosse world with some big-time matchups and important wins for a variety of Eastern Massachusetts teams. Below are the outcomes from today’s games, including Lincoln-Sudbury topping Duxbury in a marquee Friday afternoon match-up.

Boy’s Lacrosse 

  • Lincoln-Sudbury 14, Duxbury 7
  • Medfield 12, Dover-Sherborn 9
  • Reading 13, Burlington 9
  • St. Sebastian’s 9, Rivers 5
  • Billerica 7, Andover 5
  • Silver Lake 15, Whitman-Hanson 5
  • Newton North 10, Foxborough 6
  • Westwood 16, Dedham 5

Girl’s Lacrosse 

  • Lynnfield 11, North Reading 9
  • Swampscott 7, Beverly 6
  • Notre Dame Academy 18, Foxborough 9
  • Westwood 17, Dedham 1