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Framingham’s Hayley Zophin stellar on court at Nichols College

Hayley Zophin during Nichols vs. Fitchburg basketball.

Richard Orr

Hayley Zophin during Nichols vs. Fitchburg basketball.

Healthy again, Hayley Zophin standing tall for Nichols

Hayley Zophin saw her senior season at Framingham High (class of 2009) end suddenly, and painfully, when she tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in one of her knees.

“We were never the same after Hayley went down,” recalled Chip DelPrete, the Framingham girls’ basketball coach at the time. “She had been a rebounding machine for us and was just starting to blossom.”

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After some bumps in the road during her recuperation and adaptation to the college game, Zophin has emerged as a dominant center in her senior year at Nichols College.

Through eight games, Zophin is the second-leading scorer (15.1 points per game) and rebounder (13.3) in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. She was tops in the conference with nine defensive rebounds per game, a priority for first-year head coach Alice Mullen

“I was asked to take care of the defensive board and just let my offensive game continue to develop,” said the 6-foot-1 ­Zophin, who has recorded five double-doubles (points and rebounds) this year, one more than all of last season.

Her 25-point, 20-rebound performance in a 76-64 loss at Framingham State University on Dec. 11 was three rebounds shy of the program single-game record.

“Hayley has been invaluable to our team. She has proven to be unstoppable in the post and relentless on both the defensive and offensive boards,” said Mullin. “She's playing really well right now, and the best part is she has yet to reach her maximum potential.”

Zophin served notice of her potential in the final game last season when No. 8 seed Nichols took on top-seed University of New England in the conference tournament quarterfinals.

“They had blown us out twice,” recalled Zophin, who played just nine games her freshman year and was eased into the lineup as a sophomore, and averaged 8.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, “but we really threw a scare into them.”

Nichols lost, 63-55, to close out a 6-20 campaign, but Zophin delivered a 15-point, 15-rebound performance.

The Bison started this season with two wins, then lost five straight (two of them by a total of 6 points) before going into the holiday break with a 56-48 verdict over visiting Anna Maria last Thursday, fueled by 18 points and 14 boards from Zophin.

Her standout performance at Framingham State two days earlier was especially heartwarming for Rams assistant coach Dave Aldrich, who had recruited Zophin when he was an assistant at Nichols.

“I had gone to see another girl play for Framingham, but Hayley caught my eye,” said Aldrich.

“She was a little raw, but she worked hard and cared and even when she fouled out, she was a great teammate on the bench. I was also at the game when she was injured, but I told her afterward she was the kind of person we wanted in our program because she was a team player with a big heart.

“Our game plan when Nichols came to our gym was to double down on Hayley, ­because it seemed their offense always went through her, and she was still unstoppable,” added Aldrich. “We spoke after the game and I said how proud I was of her. She has endured some rough times and now her career is ending on a great note.”

DelPrete, who coached at Framingham for 28 seasons, said he's delighted that Zophin has become the player she envisioned prior to her injury.

“Hayley had great character, always asking how she could become a better player,” said DelPrete, “and I liked the way she was ready on both ends of the floor, with her hands high above her head.”

Zophin, whose father, Steve, played basketball and wrestled at Wayland High, has had to pick up the Bison on offense because of an injury to teammate Kasey Pelletier, a junior guard who played at Groton-Dunstable Regional High.

“I'm trying to improve my midrange game and to be a leader, especially if things aren't going our way,” said Zophin, who was tabbed on Monday as the CCC’s Player of the Week for her play last week.

“I've come a long way and basketball has taught me a lot about myself. My team is like family to me, and when I'm on the court with them that's my world and my focus.”

Peers add two local coaches
to state baseball hall of fame

Joe Siciliano, head coach at Newton North High for 26 seasons, and former Franklin High coach Pete Pasquarosa will be inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 26 at the DoubleTree hotel in Westborough.

Siciliano has led Newton North to 14 MIAA state tournament berths and two Bay State Conference championships, and has been on the high school’s faculty for nearly three decades.

Pasquarosa began his coaching career at Franklin in 1988, and as varsity coach for 15 seasons won three Hockomock League crowns and the 2002 South sectional title. He is assistant coach at Wheaton College in Norton.

Newton North baseball fans can get ticket information from assistant coach Tom Donnellan at 617-559-6431.

The induction ceremony is part of the association’s 46th annual gathering, which also includes coaching clinics open to the public on Jan. 25 and 26, and wraps up with an honors award brunch on Jan. 27. For more information, go to www.massbca.com.  

Players of the week

Marlborough’s Bobby Butler earned CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors after tallying six goals and an assist in three games for the Albany River Rats last week. The 25-year-old Butler, who signed a free agent contract with New Jersey Devils in August, has 10 goals and 5 assists in 22 games.

Bowdoin College sophomore guard Bryan Hurley  of Watertown was named the New England Small College Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week in men’s basketball after scoring a team-high 17 points, including a bank-shot runner with 14 seconds left, in a 74-70 OT victory at Bates on Dec. 6, and then pouring in the final four points for the Polar Bears in a 64-58 win over Colby the next day. Hurley was a team captain at Boston College High, where he was a Catholic Conference all-star. Bowdoin, which entered the holiday break at 5-2 thanks to a closing four-game winning streak, also features junior guard Evan Kulak  (Wellesley High), sophomore center JohnSwords  (Lincoln-Sudbury Regional), and freshman forward Matt Palecki  (St. John's High) on its roster.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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