Still coaching after
all these years
At the junior college level, coaching longevity is a rarity. Massasoit Community College in Brockton is an exception
Earlier this month, men’s basketball coach Jim Stapleton , in his 13th season on the bench, recorded his 200th career victory.
Stapleton, a Brockton resident who graduated from Norwood High and played the point at Curry College, has seen a lot in his coaching career.
“There is a lot of longevity here, which isn’t something you typically see at this level,” said Stapleton, who was 201-123 overall entering Saturday’s game against Springfield Tech.
“We’ve been pretty lucky. We’ve won five state titles in the last 12 years, so I guess we’re above average. I’m looking forward to winning a sixth.”
The Warriors (11-10) started slowly this season, but moved above .500 with six straight wins. Although Stapleton has coached in more than 300 games, he said three of the most exciting games have been staged this season.
That includes last week’s 73-72 victory over Dean College, ranked fourth in the country among junior colleges at the time. Massasoit forced two consecutive turnovers at the end of the game and won on a basket by Taunton’s Chris Green, with Walpole High grad Anthony Conway making the key steal.
“That was one of the greatest games I’ve been involved with,” said Stapleton, who is a history teacher at Brockton High. “There was a huge crowd, and Dean took the lead late in the game. We forced a steal to get to within one point with 30 seconds left, then forced another one. It was a great victory.”
Julie Mulvey , Massasoit’s athletic director, has seen Stapleton lead the Warriors to unexpected victories over and over again.
“Jim always does his homework ahead of time and he knows what he’s up against before the game and is ready for whatever they throw at you,” said Mulvey, who was inducted into the athletic hall of fame at University of Massachusetts Amherst last month. She was a 1,406-point scorer for the women’s basketball team from 1978-1981.
“He will try all kinds of different gimmicks to try and throw off the opposition. With Jim, every game is a winnable game.”
That includes last week’s match against Community College of Rhode Island on Fan Appreciation Day at Massasoit. With a full house on hand, including Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, the Warriors nearly pulled off the impossible by erasing a 26-point second half deficit, only to drop an 88-76 decision. Antonio Ferreira (Stoughton) led Massasoit with 25 points.
“It was a great game because of the size of the crowd,” said Stapleton. “I’m thinking that we had all these people in the gym and we’re getting embarrassed. Then we just started to put it together in the second half and fought back. The kids reached their potential and played with fear in their eyes.”
The loss eliminated Massasoit from contention for the New England junior college tournament.
Stapleton goes to great lengths to find the player who might be a hidden gem for Massasoit, and later earn a scholarship. He has had players from as far away as Croatia, and the school has broadened the Brockton base it had for so long. This year’s roster includes 28-year-old Moses Lynn of Quincy, who did military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He’s got some incredible stories to tell,” said Stapleton. “We get them from everywhere. I scour the projects at midnight . . . . I should really write a book some day.”
Here and there
Hull natives Giovanna Pickering and Nicki Heavern combined for 22 points Tuesday to lead Babson to a come-from-behind 58-52 victory over previously undefeated Tufts. Pickering poured in 16 points and had a game-high eight rebounds, while Heavern added six points. Heavern and Meg Otto (Scituate) were credited with shutting down 6-foot-2 centers Hayley Kanner and Michela North (Duxbury). Junior Erin Young (Westwood) scored five points for Babson, including a key 3-pointer. Babson took its first lead of the game (44-42) with 5:04 remaining on a layup by freshman McKenna Cudgma of Hingham. . . . Sophomore forward Terence Durkin of Scituate doubled his assist total for the season by setting up four goals in Wesleyan’s 7-3 victory over Williams on Saturday. Durkin was named Player of the Week by the New England Small College Athletic Conference. A BC High grad, he has two goals and eight assists on the season. . . . Junior Molly Cox of Norwell is one of the leading returning scorers for the Trinity women’s lacrosse team. The Bantams are ranked No. 2 in the nation in preseason polls. Cox had 33 goals and eight assists last season, her first with Trinity after transferring from Boston University. She led Norwell High to a pair of Division 2 state titles.John R. Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.