EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 22, 2013

Roundball Reunion

McVeigh, Knight stars teaming up one more time at Agganis Game

Even if the person asking was a referee, Mike McVeigh couldn’t say no.

“Paul Halloran asked, ‘Do you have one more game in you?’” said McVeigh, who retired this winter after 31 years at North Andover, where he set the all-time area record with 497 wins.

“I said, ‘I’ll do it if you aren’t refereeing!’ It really is a no-brainer.”

Halloran, a well-known area ref and the executive director of the Agganis All-Star Classics, got his man. McVeigh will be coaching the North All-Stars Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the 9th annual Agganis boys basketball game.

An added bonus, make that two bonuses, is his team boasts Eagle-Tribune Super Teamers Isaiah Nelsen and Chris Bardwell, his stars with the Scarlet Knights. It might have been three ex-Knight standouts but Derek Collins is away on vacation.

“I’m really looking forward to playing one final game with them,” said Nelsen. “I would have played one way or another, but having Coach McVeigh makes it that much more special.”

When the unheralded 6-4 Bardwell transferred from Central Catholic for his senior year, his game took off and so did the Knights.

He and Nelsen, the soft-shooting 6-6 forward who signed a full scholarship to St. Anselm’s, may have formed the state’s top 1-2 punch.

“There wasn’t a single team that could double-team me or double-team Chris,” said Nelsen.

It took a few games for everyone to adapt to their roles, but once they did, the Knights made it all the way to the Division 2 North final at the Tsongas Arena. If they weren’t shorthanded for that one, the Knights might have won their first state title since 1975.

“It was such a remarkable season,” said Nelsen. “Nobody expected much from us. Then Chris transferred and he was huge for us.”

McVeigh remarked, “Any time you can have another game with two kids like that, you are happy.”

Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.

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