How old are you?
If you answered, “It is none of your business,” you are absolutely correct, but your answer matters when it comes down to our opening subject today.
If you are a sports fan born in the area and have followed the teams of your birthright in this part of the country and are between the age of say 15 and 25, you are sports blessed. There has never been a better time to grow up in these parts. This year, the New England based teams have blessed you well.
If you are even older, the last 18 seasons have been unworldly. New England teams have captured an unheard of 12 titles in that span. On average, that means a title this year and a title next, and then let’s take one year off repeated six times. How sick and extreme is that?
I feel more than lucky to be a part of all this. Things weren’t always so much fun. In fact, I only witnessed one Boston team win a title in my first 22 years on this planet. Anyone born in this century hasn’t reached their 20th birthday yet, and they have seen all four teams stage a parade. My dad was in the same boat as me. He only saw one of the Boston teams win a title before he was 20.
I followed the Red Sox for 56 years before having my heart fulfilled with a World Series title. I held out all kinds of hope every year, but I think I had accepted the fact I would never see the team win it all. Now four titles in 15 years has me more thankful than you could ever imagine.
Both Bob Kraft and yours truly waited 42 seasons before the Patriots delivered a Super Bowl title. The Patriots were not even born until 1960. I remember their first game on a Friday night versus Denver, and they gave very little indication for years and years that they were anything close to super or even good, with a few exceptions. Now, they have produced an incredible six titles in 18 seasons, equal to the Steelers trophy case, ahead of the field and above everyone else.
It took the Bruins 22 years to grab a title for me, and they have only produced two more in the next 38 seasons, but I am thankful for each and every one of those.
On the other hand, the Celtics were the go-to team of my youth. They began a stretch when I was 8 years old of capturing 11 titles in a 13-year period, including every year from when I was 10 to 18 years old.
I learned during that time that there were years when the Celtics were still playing last season and the Red Sox were already basically out of this season. The Celtics last title was in 2008, and they are presently the Boston team with the longest drought. The Celtics all-time 17 titles leads the way though, followed by the Red Sox with 9, and both the Patriots and Bruins with six. You young people would not believe how really bad both the Red Sox and Patriots were at one time.
Putting one more twist on New England based titles, I observed in one way or another, 15 titles in my first 50 years of life, while a 20-year-old today has already been around for 12. Those fans have three titles to enjoy to catch me in their next 30 years. Something tells me they will pass by me without a trace of trouble.
By the way, if you were one of those New Englanders who have chosen to cheer for other teams, chances are you feel something like I did in my youth, or even worse.
Vermont Academy basketball
Another Alex Popp edition of Vermont Academy boys basketball is churning along and this one is worth seeing. The Wildcats are 14-7 sitting in fourth place in the current NEPSAC standings. Popp is enjoying this edition more than most. He tells me, “This is the most coachable team we have had since ’16. There is not as much fire power in the top three, but the team has more depth.”
The team also has nine games remaining and, most importantly, six of those are at home. Most of the teams coming into Saxtons River are expected to be part of the play-offs in four weeks. Popp’s team is home both days this weekend against teams sitting just behind VA in the standings. Gould Academy from Maine is the opponent Saturday at 6 p.m., while St. Andrews from Rhode Island graces the local hardwood Sunday at 3 p.m.
VA competes in the AA Division of NEPSAC. One of the top AAA teams, Northfield Mount Hermon visits next Wednesday at 6 p.m., followed by Cheshire Academy from Connecticut on Sunday, Feb. 17. The final regular season home game of the season will be on Saturday, Feb. 23 when AAA leader Brewster Academy visits for a 6 p.m. contest. The top three teams currently in AA are McDuffie, Worcester Academy, and Cushing. Vermont split two games with Worcester and lost their lone meeting with Cushing. Kimball Union Academy is still in the AA play-off picture and Popp’s team has a game remaining up there Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 4:30 p.m. VA defeated rival KUA handily the first time around.
Some of VA’s players have already committed for their college basketball future. Seniors Tommy O’Neil to Harvard, Sy Torrence to Marquette, Deng Adiang to UVM and Jack Scotnicki to St. Lawrence have already made their choices, while mid-majors including the Ivies are still pursuing senior Travis Evee and junior Jake Cook.
Our area girls trio
A few weeks back I listed the upcoming dates for games featuring three area schools and their annual round robin of contests competing against each other. This series of games was labeled “can’t miss.” Four of those six encounters have been played and Springfield has already clinched the bragging rights of the little go-round. The Cosmos are 3-0 in the round robin with one single game remaining versus Bellows Falls on the Terriers home court next Monday evening at 7 p.m. Presently Green Mountain is 1-2 and Bellows Falls 0-2.
Joe Costello’s Cosmos defeated Green Mountain 33-24 in Springfield, 53-44 and then 54-52 on the road. Terry Farrell’s Lady Chieftains used their home advantage to turn back Todd Wells’ Bellows Falls team 42-36 in their first meeting. Thus Bellows Falls can still make some noise because they have one game remaining versus each of the two rivals. Everyone should expect a couple of close games.
The remaining Chieftain-Terrier match-up is this Thursday evening at 7 p.m. Thus far, the average difference is five points a game between these rivals with each game finishing in single digits. Just as advertised.