For high school sports fans, the winter never seems long enough. Yes, there was plenty of snow — and days off from school — but in places such as Brighton, Burlington, Westford, and Duxbury, they enjoyed every minute. That's because those communities celebrated state championships and there’s nothing like a trophy to make staying indoors worthwhile. Whether it was a senior capping off a great year (Olivia Healy of Reading) or a freshman getting her first state title (Samantha Rubin of Wellesley), success found many homes. From Barnstable to Swampscott, it was a season of great accomplishments. The following are 10 moments that stood out among the countless athletic stories in Massachusetts.
1. The shot heard ‘round the world
Most games played before the holidays are a distant memory by the time the MIAA tournament pairings come out. But how can anyone forget the shot East Boston senior Pat Santos hit on Tuesday, Dec. 18? Trailing Madison Park, 42-40, with a second remaining in the City League basketball game, Santos grabbed a missed free throw and heaved a full-court prayer that was answered. The three points made Eastie a winner — and Santos a celebrity. “I just got it and shot it. There wasn’t even enough time to think, just get the ball and shoot, that’s all,” said Santos. His coach, Shawn Brown, summed it up. “That was an amazing shot.”
2. Coughlin the first lady of Mass. wrestling
Danielle Coughlin wasn’t trying to make history Wednesday, Feb. 20. She was just trying to help her team win a state title. North Andover entered the Divison 2 state wrestling finals behind first-place Winchester. Wrestling at 106 pounds, Coughlin needed to beat her Winchester opponent or North Andover would be facing a deficit it probably couldn’t overcome. She did, winning 5-3, and setting the Scarlet Knights on a run that led to their fourth straight state championship. The state title was the first by a female wrestler in this state, an amazing feat for a girl who was also the team’s cocaptain. Male, female, whatever. The kid can wrestle.
3. How I met Bobby
Smith Academy took the floor at the DCU Center for the Division 2 boys’ basketball championship with “I wear orange for Bobby” T-shirts and the only thing that seemed out of place was the sea of orange supporters for a school with colors of purple and white. The first quarter ended and I was curious: Who is this Bobby? Turning from press row, I asked the closest kid, one wearing a Philadelphia Flyers T-shirt in the front row. Who’s Bobby? The answer was, “Me.” After a pause, another question. Why the T-shirts? “I have leukemia.” Bobby Gagne was diagnosed with leukemia last July and the T-shirts and orange were in support of his battle. I don’t remember the final score of that game. But I remember Bobby.
4. Swimmers weather storm
The snow storm that hit Massachusetts Feb. 8-9 forced the postponement of MIAA events across the state. But if you’re a swimmer, the snow didn’t mean the sectionals were delayed, it meant they were canceled. With its biggest events taking place at MIT and Harvard, swimming didn’t have the flexibility of high school sites. Snow meant no MIT, which meant no sectionals. And when the MIAA decided to cancel the Western Mass. sectional as well, hundreds of swimmers’ seasons came to an early end. But pressure, from parents, schools, and even Olympians Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte, convinced the MIAA to reconsider. Sectional swimmers were allowed at the state meet and officials handled the extra bodies with ease. The storm subsided.
5. Boys’ gymnastics loses MIAA support
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