WE’LL KICK OFF this week’s column with a bit of baseball news.
Campbell High School hired a varsity baseball coach last week. Drew Gora, who has spent the last eight seasons as the program’s junior varsity coach, landed the job. He is also the school’s girls’ varsity basketball coach.
Gora is Campbell’s third baseball coach in as many years. Jim Gorham stepped down after he led the Cougars to an unbeaten season and the Division III championship in 2017, when they beat Belmont 6-5 in 10 innings. Campbell erased a two-run deficit by scoring three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning in that game, which earned Gorham his fifth state championship in 16 seasons as the program’s head coach.
Jim Cardello was hired to replace Gorham, but resigned after one season on the job.
“I really wanted to be the varsity coach after Jim left, but I knew I wasn’t ready,” Gora said. “It’s a big commitment to be a varsity coach and I was already coaching girls’ basketball at Campbell. I felt better about things the second time it opened up. It was such a good opportunity I felt like I had to apply.”
Gora, 48, is a Hudson resident who teaches at Campbell. Kyle Gora, one of Drew’s six children, was the starting quarterback for an Alvirne team that reached the Division II championship game last fall. Kyle is also an outstanding high school wrestler.
Gora said most of his coaching staff is already in place.
“This is a great baseball program and I figured it would attract some really strong candidates, so I was surprised (he was hired), but very happy,” Gora said. “I’ve worked with all of these kids at the JV level. It’s a good, strong program. There’s a deep pool of talent here.”
The first day of varsity baseball games is less than a month away …
Don’t be fooled by the 60-49 victory the Exeter High School boys basketball team posted against Londonderry last month. The Lancers were within two points with less than a minute to play in that game, and were without 6-foot-5 senior center Max DesRosiers for most of the contest.
DesRosiers, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot early in the loss to Exeter, has returned to the lineup and will likely be a factor when the teams meet in Wednesday’s Division I semifinals at the University of New Hampshire’s Lundholm Gym (7:30 p.m.). Kevin Henry scored a game-high 27 points to help top-seeded Exeter (19-0) defeat fourth-seeded Londonderry (16-4) in that regular-season meeting.
Wednesday’s first semifinal will feature second-seeded Salem (18-2) and sixth-seeded Portsmouth (15-5). That game is scheduled to tip off at 5:30 p.m. Portsmouth has won the last two Division I championships, but the Blue Devils beat the Clippers 58-43 during the regular season.
Division II boys’ basketball will be in the spotlight tonight, when the Division II semifinals are held at UNH. No. 2 ConVal (19-1) will face No. 3 Pembroke (19-1) at 5:30, and fifth-seeded Merrimack Valley (15-5) will meet ninth-seeded Kearsarge (13-8) at 7:30.
The New Hampshire and Vermont football players who were selected to play in this summer’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl were in Lebanon for a player-introduction meeting Sunday. The rosters for each team were released last week.
Vermont has won the last three games against New Hampshire, but this year’s New Hampshire roster includes several players who many expected would play in the CHaD New Hampshire East-West Game. That group includes Pinkerton Academy running back Gannon Fast.
“The coaches got together and did a great job of evaluating all the players,” said Windham coach Bill Raycraft, who is New Hampshire’s head coach for this year’s game. “Not only did we speak to each coach directly, but we saw each player on film or live.
“Two things that stood out this week when we reviewed the roster: We are extremely fast and the strength on our team is pretty impressive. We have guys on our team who like to make contact.
“The kids not only have the playing ability, but have high character. I’m already getting texts from the kids about how pumped they are for the game, so that tells me they’re in there for the right reason.”
Training camp will begin on July 28 and this year’s game will be held Aug. 3 at Castleton University (5:30 p.m.). The event benefits Shriners Hospitals for Crippled and Burned Children.
New Hampshire is home to some of the best prep school basketball teams in the country. That was evident again last week, when Brewster Academy of Wolfeboro won the 2019 National Prep Championship at Connecticut College in New London, Conn. It was Brewster’s sixth national title in the last 10 years.
The Bobcats were the No. 8 seed in the National Prep Championship bracket, but won four games in two days to claim the title. Brewster’s Jalen Lecque, an N.C State commit, was named the 10-team tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Brewster roster also includes Alonzo Gaffney (Ohio State), Kai Jones (Texas), Anthony Walker (Miami) and Joel Brown (California).
Brewster’s path to the championship included a play-in game victory over IMG Academy (Fla). Brewster beat Woodstock Academy (Conn.) in the quarterfinals, eliminated Massanutten Military Academy (Va.) in the semifinals and took down Scotland Campus (Pa.) in the championship game. Lecque scored 24 points during the victory against Scotland Campus.
The annual Joe Yukica football coaches’ clinic will be held April 6 at UNH’s Wildcat Stadium. Those who register will also be able to attend a UNH practice before the clinic. All high school and youth coaches can attend. To register or for more information contact Londonderry High School coach Jimmy Lauzon at email@example.com.