EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 26, 2013

Sports in a Minute

Dave Dyer
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Offers at NECC

Few decisions have been made, but all seven sophomores on the Northern Essex men’s basketball team have received offers from four-year schools to continue their careers.

Two players, North Andover’s @text5:Matt Sifferlen@text5: and Lawrence’s @text5:Junior Veras@text5:, however, have decided to stop playing and focus on academics. Sifferlen is expected to attend UMass Lowell next year.

Haverhill’s @text5:Kyle Davis@text5: has more than 25 schools interested in him according to NECC coach@text5: Darren Stratton@text5:.

The Knights, incidentally, will apparently finish 13-13 instead of 11-15 because losses to Gateway and Vermont Tech are being reversed because those schools used ineligible players.

Phillips picks ‘Easterns’

The Phillips Academy girls swimming team, which was unbeaten in dual meets this year and is 29-1 in duals over the last four years, decided not to attend the New England Prep School championships because the meet only allows each school to enter two swimmers per event.

Instead, the depth-strong Big Blue decided to attend the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships at La Salle University in Philadelphia. It allows up to five swimmers in each event.

Among those who favored the decision were junior@text5: Lauren Conte @text5:of Methuen and senior captain @text5:Lucy Frey @text5:of Andover.

“We’re excited to get a feel for the schools that are out there and compete with them,” said Frey, who will swim at Skidmore College next year.

Phillips ended up finishing fourth, led by diving champ @text5:Lilybet MacRae@text5:, who set a new meet record and pool record with 512.45 points.

Fagula tidbits

Congratulations are due to Londonderry girls coach @text5:John Fagula@text5:, who won his 600th game last week at Timberlane. Following are a few tidbits you might not know about the personable head coach, who had a storied career at Nashua.

— Fagula didn’t start coaching girls basketball until he was 30, which is old for someone who has won 600 games.

— His first love was baseball and he tried to gravitate into the coaching ranks in that sport. When that didn’t work out, he gravitated to girls basketball.

— Fagula led Nashua to 11 NHIAA state championship seasons in 20 years. After taking off four seasons, he has spent the last 11 seasons in Londonderry.

— When USA Today selected his 1986 team as the No. 1 girls’ basketball high school team in the nation, Nashua only attempted one three-point shot the whole season.

All-around seasons

There are several Eastern Mass. schools who have enjoyed tremendous all-around seasons this winter and Central Catholic may be on top of the list. The Raiders have been ranked among the leaders all year in boys basketball and hockey and have been in the top 15 in girls basketball.

But Reading has probably been the most impressive. The Rockets are unbeaten and seeded No. 1 in girls basketball and have been in the top five almost all winter in boys and girls hockey.

St. John’s Prep, an all-boys school, has been ranked in the top three in both hockey and basketball much of the year and also has one of the state’s best wrestling teams, having won the Division 1 dual meet tournament and 35 meets overall.

Petition update

As of last week, there were 64,590 signatures on 98 petitions at Change.org to keep wrestling in the Olympics. The 15-member Olympic committee recommended that wrestling be dropped from the 2020 Olympics but it will be brought up before the entire IOC in September.

Those interested in signing the petition should go to