He had made up his mind that this season would be his last on the bench at Westford Academy. But Ed Scollan did not make the news official until his Grey Ghosts were eliminated from the Division 1 North tournament with a tough 64-62 loss to Lexington High last Sunday.
“I’m ready to focus my energy on something new and I’m looking forward to a different pace of things,’’ said Scollan, who will also retire as a history teacher at Westford at the end of the school year.
He leaves behind quite a legacy: three Dual County League titles, 20 postseason appearances in 26 varsity seasons, and 333 victories.
Not bad for an individual not blessed with an extensive playing career, but with a wealth of knowledge of the game, who initially signed on as the freshman coach in 1978.
His last team finished 17-4, defeating Cambridge Rindge & Latin, 71-54, in the first round of the sectional before losing to Lexington.
“I love Westford basketball and we had a special group of kids this year who really came to play every game,’’ said Scollan.
“But I’ve seen a lot of teams come and go in my years and every single one is special in its own way. My first team probably was the most memorable for me because it was my first, but in the ’90s I had some good teams as well, so, overall it’s been a terrific run.’’
One of his former standouts, Peter Lynch, credits Scollan for teaching him how to deal with adversity and remain positive.
“He always told me to move on when things weren’t going my way,’’ said Lynch, a 6-foot-6 junior forward at Middlebury who averaged 26 points per game his senior year for the Grey Ghosts. “Whether it be a mistake or something else, he always made sure that we moved on, moved forward, and were mentally tough, and I thank him for that.’’
Lynch said his most memorable experience was winning the Lowell Holiday tournament as a senior. “Coach is from Lowell,so when we won the tournament, I’ve never seen him so excited about anything like that,’’ said Lynch. “He had that Canalligator Trophy in his classroom and always talked about it after we won, so it meant a lot to him and us.’’
One ancient adage used frequently by Scollan sticks out.
“He always said, ‘the journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step,’ and he used to say it before every practice and game, so I always think about that kind of stuff even now,’’ Lynch said. “It’s definitely going to be different without him at Westford.’’
Rick Kilpatrick, head coach at rival Acton-Boxborough, will miss the yearly matchups against his good friend.
“Eddie was always known for his offensive movements, and on several occasions, they were known to beat teams back-door, including us,’’ said Kilpatrick. “His kids always moved the ball well and you never knew what kind of offensive scheme he would run. He kept you on your toes.’’
In contructing his playbook sets over the years, Scollan attended a number of coaching clinics and watched a lot of games, and in particular liked the way Emerson College ran its offense.
“We tried to mirror it the best we could and we had the staff to do so,’’ said Scollan.
The A-B/Westford rivalry will be different, according to Kilpatrick, “but I know he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his life.’’
Scollan lauded his assistant coaches, Chris Bramanti, Nick Kalergis, and John Warden, and said he will miss being involved with the program and the camaraderie that surrounds it. But Scollan has discovered new outlets, including Twitter, that will help him stay connected.
“I’ve met a lot of people in the years I’ve been here, and Twitter is a great way for me to stay connected with everyone,’’ said Scollan. “I look forward to rooting for Westford and following how everyone does.’’
Four overtimes and a win for Lowell Catholic girls
Four overtimes and six players left.
That’s what the Lowell Catholic girls’ basketball team fought through to defeat Maimoninades, 55-54, on March 3 to advance to the Division 4 North semifinals, a first for the Crusader program.
“The game was supposed to be played that Thursday, but because of the weather and the Sabbath being on Friday, the game was moved to Saturday [night], which ultimately helped our fan base,’’ said Lowell Catholic coach Tom Varnum.
“Our team plus a few other kids go on our yellow school bus to games, but the bus was filled with kids and fans, and we had to drive a tiny shuttle we bought a few years ago, so it was definitely different than anything I’ve ever seen.’’
In his nine seasons at Lowell Catholic, or years prior, he had never experienced a four-overtime game.
“For 31 1/2 minutes we were outplayed, and were down four points with 25 seconds left,’’ said Varnum. “We then got a quick lay-up, fouled quick, and they missed the free throw. Off the rebound we found Madison Medina under the hoop for the game-tying basket. Madison also hit the game-winning shot at the end of the fourth overtime as well, so we had a lot of girls step up for us.’’
Three overtimes in, Varnum saw his 14-player roster depleted down to six girls - three freshmen, a sophomore, and two seniors - as a result of foul trouble and injuries.
“I told them after the third overtime, ‘You guys aren’t really breathing that heavy,’ and they laughed, so it was a good ice breaker for the third overtime,’’ said Varnum.
Senior captain Shelagh Brice felt the effects of a three-hour game.
“It was stressful to say the least but I was confident about the talent we had,’’ said Brice, who averaged 13 points per game for the Crusaders this season. “Each overtime, coach kept saying the score is zero to zero, so we worked hard and everyone stepped up to help when we needed it most.’’
Finishing the season 10-10, Brice said the marathan game summed up the season.
“Just like our season, we had some ups and downs but rose to the challenge and succeeded,’’ said Brice, the MVP in the Catholic Central Small. “I kept saying I’m not ready to leave yet, but I’ll have to and I’ll miss it very much.’’
After a 55-27 loss to Shawsheen Tech Tuesday night in the Division 4 North semis, Varnum said, “It’s been a great winter for Lowell Catholic sports. Our program has grown tremendously and I am excited to see the continuation of that growth in years to come.’’Ryan MacInnis can be reached at email@example.com.