Bentley’s Finn still inspiring
Winthrop High girls team
Courtney Finn’s scoring record at Winthrop High may never be broken.
The banner printed with her name — and the 1,749 points she racked up during a marvelous scholastic career in which she first attracted the attention of a Bentley University assistant in the 10th grade — has recently come down from the gym for refurbishing.
But Winthrop girls’ basketball coach Ignacio Oyola hasn’t forgotten, nor does he want his current players to do so.
It isn’t unusual for Oyola to take his Viking players over to Waltham to watch the best scorer in program history. Because even if Finn has an off night, which is unusual for the senior guard averaging 14.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, Oyola’s players will learn something.
“She does everything so well,” said Oyola, who was an assistant coach for the boys’ team when Finn played at Winthrop but has since given her an open invitation to come to practice anytime she wants.
“So I go and tell the girls, ‘Watch Courtney when she’s off the ball, defending on the ball; watch how she reads, sees the floor and is a multitalented player.’ ”
Those are the asterisks next to Finn’s 1,700-plus point high school career: She did much more than just score.
At Bentley, her game has not changed much. She recently passed the 1,000-point plateau there, but more importantly, she is a pivotal player for the third-ranked Division 2 program in the country, 27-1 entering Sunday’s Northeast-10 Conference championship game against visiting Assumption.
But before the polished offensive skills, when Finn was just a high school sophomore, Bentley assistant C White took in a game at her alma mater, Westwood High, while scouting, Finn caught her eye.
“I think [White] has a very good eye for talent anyway, but the fact that she noticed [Finn] at a young age said a lot about the skills Courtney had,” said Bentley coach Barbara Stevens , whose 878 career wins are more than all but five coaches in the history of women’s college basketball.
“Even as a sophomore, you could tell Courtney was going to be a very good player.
“She was skilled and we liked her toughness. She has tremendous skills but she plays extremely hard for 40 minutes. She gives it everything she has. So many people comment to me about that. They love her heart.”
The connection between Winthrop High and Bentley University women’s program is strong. The Viking girls attend the Bentley basketball camp every summer, so it was an early and easy decision on a college for Finn.
The hard part came on Day 3 of practice her freshman year. Finn went up for an uncontested layup. She came down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. She missed her entire season.
“It was horrible,” said the 5-foot-9 guard. “But at the same time, it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. It gave me time.”
Stevens is a big believer that everything happens for a reason.
“Courtney was devastated,” the coach said. “But you look back and she’s had three great years. Every year she has improved. This year she’s playing tremendously and now she has another year of eligibility. Weirdly enough, this helped.”
Finn’s point averages the last three years: 7.7, 11.7, 14.8. Her rebound averages: 3.9, 6.3, 7.1.
Stevens said the rebound numbers are a reflection of Finn’s passion. She’s often giving up 4 or 5 inches on many of the inside players in the Northeast-10 Conference. But the Stevens will put her money on Finn for an offensive rebound.
“I don’t know if people noticed those in high school,” Finn said. “I didn’t realize how important rebounding truly was until I got to college.”
Finn, who is planning on returning for graduate school to play out her final year of eligibility, has helped lead the Falcons to the Elite Eight twice.
“We have some very good players on our team,” Stevens said. “Yet Courtney comes in every game, whether it’s scoring, rebounding, whatever it is, just simply outworking people. She makes her mark felt in every game.”
Babson’s icy victory
The Babson men’s hockey team captured the ECAC East tournament championship with a 2-1 win over Norwich on March 2, thanks in large part to the contributions of three local skaters.
Coach Jamie Rice offered his thoughts on all three:
On captain Ryan Smith , a senior forward from Lynnfield with an eye for the net: “Thirty-two goals in four years is a pretty good number. [Last Friday] the goal he got in overtime of the semifinal game against UMass-Boston — there aren’t too many bigger goals in Babson College history.”
On assistant captain Trevor Hines , a senior forward from Newburyport: “There’s always a place for really dependable, reliable kids who care about the outcome. He’s one of our core penalty killers and ours has been one of the best in the country.”
On Ryan Heavey , a junior defenseman from Andover who passed up Division 1 opportunities to attend Babson: “His greatest attribute is he’s unbelievably competitive. He’s leading the team in penalty minutes  but I’ve never yelled at him for taking a bad penalty. And he’s a one-man breakout.”
The Beavers played at Norwich in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division 3 tournament.
Jim Curtin to be feted
Former Burlington High baseball coach Jim Curtin , who held his post for 52 years, will be honored with a retirement dinner on Thursday, April 4, at the Café Escadrille. Tickets available in the offices of Ed Gillis or Brian Curtin at the high school. . . . Former Malden High linebacker Witchie Exilhomme received a full offer to play football at American International College in Springfield. . . . The Dracut Dominators U12 and U14 fast-pitch softball teams are holding open pitching tryouts. Contact coach Scott Turgeon at coach.scott@ comcast.net.
Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at email@example.com.