They were Waltham High’s “Boys of Winter,” a basketball team whose tallest player measured 6 feet 1, but whose heart and hustle took them to the brink of a state championship.
Their head coach, Len Sorin, now retired and living in Framingham, cherishes the plaque presented to him at the team’s breakup dinner at the Chateau restaurant 30 years ago.
The inscription reads: “Coach Sorin, thank you for believing in us, showing patience with us, and leading us to the Division 1 North Finals and a record of 17-5 in 1981-82.’’
The exploits of the 1981-82 Hawks will be relived Oct. 19, when the squad is inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“We were diminutive, outgunned on the backboards, but no one defended harder than us,” said Sorin. “We were the most exciting team you’d ever want to see.”
A graduate of Roxbury Memorial High, Sorin played ball at Northeastern for his mentor, the legendary Dick Dukeshire, who passed away this year.
When Dukeshire hired Waltham High assistant Jim Bowman , a former captain at Northeastern, for his NU staff, it left an opening at the high school. Sorin became an assistant to a fellow inductee this fall, Don Prohovich, whom he succeeded in 1973.
A number of the names are still familiar around town.
Joe Cacciatore played for Prohovich, was Sorin’s top assistant, and has been head coach since 1984.
“If a kid felt bad or got down on himself, Joe was right by his side,’’ said Sorin, the Globe’s Coach of the Year that season.
“Everyone knew their role and it was quite a turnaround from winning four games the previous season,’’ recalled Cacciatore. “Our quickness was amazing.’’
The players? Steve LaForest is now the varsity baseball coach at Waltham High. Tom Stanley is a state representative and a city councilman, and the son of former mayor William Stanley; Jerry Nocera is a member of the family who founded the Chateau, and Dave Marcou runs the Waltham-based Veterans Transportation Services. He is the grandson of the late Jack Marcou, founder of the family-named jewelry store on Moody Street.
The starters were LaForest and his twin brother, cocaptain Scott at forward, Marcou and brother Darren at guard, and the team’s tallest player, Dave Kaufman, at center.
“Steve took on the opposing team’s best scorer and the Marcous, two gym rats, must have caused about a thousand turnovers,’’ said Sorin, whose team knocked off Somerville, Andover, and Everett — all in nail-biters — in the tourney, then lost in the closing seconds to Don Bosco Tech.
“The one game that stands out the most for me was our tournament game at Andover. No one gave us a chance to win,’’ said Steve LaForest, also an assistant basketball coach at the high school.
“As time goes by, and having coached for a few years, I get to appreciate more what we accomplished and what a great coach we had in Len Sorin.
“He adapted to our strengths and the tempo of the game before there were shot clocks and 3-point lines. And we did a lot of running and pressing,’’ said LaForest, who along with his brother went on to play baseball at Princeton.
A few of the players were multisport athletes who helped the football, soccer, and baseball teams at Waltham post outstanding records during that school year.
“Many of us are still very close,’’ said LaForest. “Dave Marcou has a golf tournament in the fall in New Hampshire for his Waltham High teammates and classmates.’’
The rest of the team included cocaptain Steve Cusano, Doug Hoffer, Chris Cahoon, John Nisbet, Brian Scafidi, and the late Paul Logue. The managers were Tony Lupo and Cacciatore’s nephew, Phil Cacciatore. Assistant coach Dan Mahoney is deceased.
“They gave me the memories of a lifetime,’’ said Sorin.
Prohovich, head basketball coach from 1963-73 and Waltham’s athletic director for 20 more years, was selected for the Hall of Fame last month, along with Kevin Randall (class of 1981, wrestling), Larry Scafidi (’82, baseball), P.J. Cameron (’94, wrestling), and Michelle Savoie (’95, girls soccer). Prohovich is also enshrined in the Ware High and College of the Holy Cross halls of fame as a player.
“I’m honored,” said Prohovich. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing Len and his players. They gave the school and the city a lot to be proud of.’’
The Hall of Fame ceremonies will take place at the Hobbs Brook Office Park. To order tickets call 781-775-7114 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colabello finds home
After seven seasons in the independent Can-Am League, Milford’s Chris Colabello has found a home with the New Britain (Conn.) Rock Cats, the AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
The 28-year-old first baseman and designated hitter was batting .273 in 81 games with a team-high 13 home runs and .490 slugging percentage, and was second with 24 doubles and 61 runs batted in.
Colabello, who had not committed an error, went into the All-Star break on a high note, going 3 for 4 on Monday in a 7-1 win at New Hampshire for the Rock Cats, who share the top spot in the Eastern League’s East Division.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Colabello, who starred at Milford High and Assumption College, was honored last season as Baseball America’s Independent League Player of the Year and Can-Am Player of the Year while with the Worcester Tornadoes.