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16 - February 11, 2011


Pelham~Windham Sports Pelham~Windham Sports


Python Boys’ Hoops Continues to Dominate


Erik Nystrom kisses the glass with a soft touch for two against ConVal’s Jake Bacon


by Marc Ayotte


Due to the numerous school cancellations affecting the high school sports scene, the Pelham High School (PHS) boys’ varsity basketball team played three games this past week. On Friday, February 4, the flu-riddled and injured Cougars from ConVal limped and coughed their way into the Snake Pit to take on the 7-2 Pythons. Pelham, tied for second place in the Division II standings, made sure their opponents also limped and coughed their way back to Peterborough, as they handed the Cougars a 65-44 thumping. When looking at ConVal’s 2-6 record, the game certainly appeared to be your classic mismatch on paper. Surprisingly, there was a very slow start to the scoring, as each team had only one bucket two and half minutes into the game. But just inside two minutes remaining in the quarter, Python senior Dean “Threeno“ Joyce drained a jumper from beyond the arc, spiriting


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a Python 5-0 run and 12-9 first-quarter lead. With Pelham’s ice-cold shooting from medium range, along with missing many easy attempts inside the paint, the second quarter scoring was virtually non-existent halfway through. Then, a nice feed from Stephen Spirou to junior guard Derek DeFranzo for a hoop ‘AND 1’ ignited the Pythons and began to open up the lead for the home team. Despite hanging tough in early action, ConVal was slowly finding out that the apparent mismatch on paper was coming to fruition on the court. Although when halftime rolled around, the Pythons found themselves with a tenuous 32-24 lead. Okay—one order of ‘fruition’ coming up. Pelham came out with a sizzling 9-0 run to start the second half, distancing themselves from the visitors. With Stephen Spirou scoring 11 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter, the home team Pythons put their official stamp on the mismatch. And when Jake Vaiknoras (who poured in 24 points in the JV game earlier in the evening) drained a buzzer-beating baseline jumper, Pelham’s lead vaulted to a commanding 19 points at 50-31. As could be anticipated, a yawner of a fourth quarter ensued with the two teams trading insignificant baskets. The Pythons cruised to the 21-point victory while chalking up their third consecutive home-court win after dropping the home opener to Milford. After the game, Head Coach Matt Regan commented on the effective play of juniors Erik Nystrom, Brett Bailey, and Brian Finney: “Nystrom played very well tonight; he gave us a bunch of second [chance] opportunities with offensive rebounds. Bailey played nice tonight [with seven points] and Finney played real well against their big man [six-foot, six-inch, 275-pound center Jard Orazio, who came into the contest averaging an unofficial 15 points and 15 rebounds per game],” adding that “we get a lot out of his


41 points to lead the show. Bailey played well while tossing in 12 points on the night. In addition to Bailey, earning their coach’s praise were Jesse Vaiknoras, who Regan said “played very well again,” and Dean Joyce, who “played well with a couple of ally-oop passes to S. Spirou.” At the time of the win against Hollis-Brookline, the Pythons, with nine wins against only two losses, left them just percentage points behind Pembroke in the division ratings.


Mr. Blue – super fan Joe Perrone – leads the Python student contingent


five-foot, 10-inch frame.” In addition for the Pythons, DeFranzo and Anthony Spirou chipped in with eight and seven points, respectively. In the JV game, the Pythons handled ConVal with the same relative ease en route to a 69-53 win highlighted by a 10-player scoring attack.


On Monday evening, the Cavaliers of Hollis-Brookline dragged their disappointing 0-11 record to the PHS hardwood floors. And as the saying goes, ‘that’s why they play the game.’ Despite resting comfortably at the bottom of the Division II standings, the Cavs came into Pelham and shot lights out from the floor, putting a scare into the heavily favored Pythons before succumbing by the score of 75-66. Although Hollis-Brookline had an excellent shooting night, Coach Regan was pleased with his team’s effort defensively. “The shots were all challenged and they just kept going in. At one point, they made 11 straight shots from 15 feet out or further,” he recalled. The visitor’s shooting exhibition was like “something out of a scary movie,” he added jokingly. For the Pythons, Stephen Spirou tossed in a season- and career-high


In an unlikely scheduling scenario, the hometown Pythons, on consecutive nights, went up against a winless team. Sanborn Regional at 0-12 came into the Snake Pit sporting an even-worse record than Pelham’s opponents the night before. The game was pretty much over after the referee tossed the ball up for the opening tip-off. Steamrolling to a 31-2 lead at the end of one quarter, the Pythons were able to eventually get 15 different players to see some playing time. “We did the things we needed to do and it gave us an opportunity to see some younger guys in the game,” was pretty much how Coach Regan summed up the overwhelming mismatch. With the 87-31 victory, their third in a row and sixth in the last seven games, Pelham, at 10-2 on the season, remains in third place just behind Pembroke, who is 10-1. This Friday night, February 11, the Pythons travel to Pembroke for what has all the makings of being a classic thriller.


Pictured at top right, Junior Python guard


Derek DeFranzo (#22) brings the ball


up the court vs. ConVal


At bottom right, a third quarter buzzer-beating jumper by Python Jake Vaiknoras (#10)


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photos by Marc Ayotte


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