You could call the Lynn Classical girls basketball team a “surprising” 7-3 at the midway point ofthe season but Rams teams led by head coach Tom Sawyer have made a habit of exceeding expectations.
Classical is on pace for a berth in the State Tournament after besting Swampscott, 44-30, Friday night on the Rams’ home court. Hannah Byrne led the way with 17 points and six rebounds for Classical who built an imposing 34-14 lead by halftime.
Classical’s bright future was also on display as their two freshman starters, guard Franki Galeazzi and forward Kristin Lauria, again made strong contributions in the victory.
Galeazzi scored eight points and showed the all-around basketball skills that are creating excitement in the Rams’ program. “Franki is having a very good season,” said Sawyer. “She’s been aggressive taking the ball to the basket, is a good three-point shooter, and is becoming a really good perimeter defender.”
Lauria, who is 5-10, scored seven points and pulled down 11 rebounds against a tall Swampscott frontcourt. “Kristin is doing a great job, both her interior defense as well as rebounding,” said Sawyer.
The other two starters for the Rams are seniors Tashana Brown, a dependable point guard and top defensive player, and Jenna Kulakowski, a talented forward and one of the team’s best outside shooting threats.
Monta Connolly, a sophomore, is a versatile player who can play either guard or forward. Senior forward Roseane Batista has also been a solid contributor off the bench.
“Rosane leads us in the hustle category – she’s diving for basketballs on the floor and doing everything she can to help the team,” said Sawyer.
Bobbie Dee Reagan, Taylor Dumas, Danielle Moran, Alina Garrity, and Sam Earp are also making their presence felt for the varsity.
Classical is 6-2 in NEC competition. The Lady Rams’ losses were to Catholic Central League powerhouse St. Mary’s [in the Boverini Tournament], undefeated NEC Large frontrunner Revere, and perennial Division 1 tournament qualifier Peabody.
Sawyer is pleased with the team’s status at the halfway point in the 2010-11 season.
“Certainly our goal every year is get enough wins to qualify for the State Tournament,” said Sawyer. “The girls are working hard every day in practice and we’re making steady improvement and we want that to carry through the rest of the year.”
Sawyer is being assisted in the program by coaches Jay Alicudo, Dennis Baldini, and Cara Baldini.
Franki Galeazzi plays the game with a lot of confidence. She’s fearless about taking the ball to the hoop against more experienced opponents and teams have to respect her outside shot. If Galeazzi can add the behind-the-back or crossover dribble to her already potent game, she could become Classical’s next 1,000-point scorer.
Classical would compete in Division 2 in the State Tournament where undefeated Reading has emerged as the favorite in the North sectional.
Sawyer was asked to rate the best opposing player he has seen this season and the fifth-year coach placed Revere’s Morgan Jenkins (St. Michael’s) and St. Mary’s Tori Faieta at the top of the list. “Don’t ask me to pick between Morgan and Tori – they’re both very good players. A coach would be ecstatic to have either one on their team.”
Sawyer said that senior Hannah Byrne could definitely play college basketball. However, it appears that Byrne will focus on softball in college.
The Classical program will honor all-time great Helen Ridley during a Feb. 8 ceremony. Ridley will be recognized for her single-game record of 52 points. “It’s going to a be fun night. Helen is a quality person and great basketball player from a very nice family,” said Sawyer. “It will be a nice tribute to her.”
Helen’s father, former Tech Principal James Ridley, was a spectator at the Classical-Swampscott game.