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John Walsh makes a return to Malden Catholic as boys’ basketball coach

John Walsh (center) directed the Danvers boys' basketball team to three MIAA state titles.
John Walsh (center) directed the Danvers boys' basketball team to three MIAA state titles.The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Malden Catholic has hired alumnus John Walsh (‘98) as head coach of its boys’ basketball program.

A former captain of the Lancers boys’ basketball team, Walsh takes over for Ryan Taylor, who became interim coach last December when Jim McCune stepped down for personal reasons.

Walsh has compiled a 175-39 career record over nine years as a head coach, most recently leading Central Catholic to a 51-16 record over a three-year stint. In 2019, he was named Merrimack Valley Conference Coach of the Year while leading the Raiders to the Division 1 North final .

Prior to that, the Malden resident spent six years as the head coach of Danvers, where he turned a struggling Falcons program into a perennial contender and secured five Northeastern Conference titles to go along with three state titles.

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“Coach Walsh has built fantastic programs at both Central Catholic and Danvers and is backed by the integrity, discipline, and undeniable toughness he instills in his student-athletes,” said MC athletic director William Raycroft. “We are thrilled to have him return home to MC.”

With a young core of players leading the way, Malden Catholic went 13-9 last year and lost in the D2 North semifinals to eventual sectional champion Beverly. Walsh faces a tough task in leading the Lancers, the only Division 2 program in the Catholic Conference.

“It is an incredible opportunity to return to my alma mater and lead a program with the history and tradition of Malden Catholic basketball,” stated Walsh. “MC is a school that not only embraces athletics, but also truly cares about the growth of their students and that goes well beyond the court and the classroom.”

Zalaski new AD at Rivers

The Rivers School stayed in-house for its search of a new athletic director, tabbing varsity golf and basketball coach Keith Zalaski as the next AD for the Independent School program in Weston.

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Zalaski replaces Bob Pipe, who is departing after a 23-run at the school as a coach, and AD since 2016, to become the athletic director for another ISL program, St. George’s Middletown, R.I.

“Bob has done such a great job putting the athletic program in this spot,” the 37-year old Zalaski said. “We have such tremendous coaches and our teams have been so successful. I’m excited to carry on those things and keep pushing forward.”

Zalaski joined Rivers in 2015 as a math teacher in addition to his coaching duties. Over the past five seasons, his basketball teams have compiled a 93-33 record and have produced among others, a pair of D1 standouts, Villanova wing Jermaine Samuels and Yale guard Azar Swain, the 2017 Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year.

A graduate of Amherst College and Tufts University, Zalaski believes academics and athletics go hand-in-hand in developing student athletes.

“I want to keep making sure that we’re valuing all the right things where it’s not just strictly about wins and losses, but what our kids are learning through this process,” said Zalaski, who will continue to coach the boys’ basketball team. “We’re working with high school kids and the main goal is to help them grow in all ways possible.”

Zalaski said he’s also looking forward to maintaining a connection with Pipe as he transitions to another ISL school. At Rivers, Pipe guided the Red Wings to a combined seven NEPSAC titles with the boys’ soccer and girls’ basketball teams.

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Pipe, a Natick native who played soccer at Babson, said he would only leave Rivers for one other program, St. George’s. When Rachel Horn decided to step down as AD at the school this spring, Pipe felt it was the right time for he and his family to make the move.

“St. George’s is the most beautiful place in the world and I was going to move down there at some point,” said Pipe, who will officially start July 1.

“When the opportunity arose it really piqued my interest, but I’m going to miss Rivers terribly.”

Pipe believe Zalaski will be a perfect fit as Rivers’ next AD.

“His knowledge of Rivers and his relationships with the kids and coaches make it an easy fit and transition for him and for Rivers," Pipe said. "Keith has proven to be an excellent coach and leader who exemplifies excellence with humanity.”

Lindsay Hallion Miller, who starred on the court at Westwood High and later Harvard University, has been named varsity girls’ basketball coach at Rivers.

Agganis honors for McCallum, Schille

Tori Schille, a senior at Tewksbury High and Bridgewater-Raynham senior Ryan McCallum are the inaugural recipients of the MIAA / Harry Agganis Student-Athlete of the Year Scholarship.

The class president and DECA treasurer at Tewksbury, Schille served as captain of the field hockey team and played a prominent role as a top four defenseman on the Methuen/Tewksbury girls’ hockey team.

“I think what I really admire about Tori is that she really is such a strong student-athlete," Tewksbury hockey coach Sarah Oteri said. “She’s dedicated to her academics, her extracurriculars, her sports, her duties to her classmates and teammates. She’s in the moment in everything she does.”

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McCallum, who played football and ran track at B-R, and is a volunteer at the Hannah B.G. Shaw Nursing Home. His father died last year.

“When thinking of Ryan McCallum, what immediately comes to mind are the words resiliency, motivation, character, modesty, and perseverance,” said Tom Bresnahan, assistant principal at Bridgewater-Raynham. “Ryan is a model on how to deal with close and personal tragedy while still fighting each day to be strong for himself, his family, and all those close to him."

Schille and McCallum will each receive a $1,500 scholarship.

Matt Doherty and Greg Levinsky also contributed.