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The 2008-09 Nominees for the 3rd annual John J. "Jack" Gabriel Award are listed below. Each nominee will receive a special engraved plaque for their selection as a nominee.
 
The winner will be selected by a vote of all the 8th grade coaches in the league and the Directors of the league and will receive a special trophy.
 
The award is given to the 8th grade player who best exemplified throughout his career what our league founder stood for - CHARACTER, TEAMWORK, DEDICATION AND SPORTSMANSHIP.

THIS YEAR'S AWARD PRESENTATION WILL BE HELD AT SHORE COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL ON SATURDAY, MARCH 7TH AFTER THE 3 POINT / FREE THROW SHOOTING CONTEST (3PM) All nominees will receive a special engraved plaque and the winner will be awarded the John J. Gabriel trophy.

Congratulations to all of you for being selected for consideration for the league's highest honor.

CONGRATULATIONS TO LIAM ALDRICH OF MANCHESTER-ESSEX FOR BEING SELECTED AS THE 2009 JACK GABRIEL AWARD RECIPIENT!


1. Hamilton-Wenham: NICK FUSCO -
Nick Fusco embodies character, dedication and unselfishness.  He has been a standout in every one of his four years in this league.  This year he has been truly exceptional. H-W was unable to field a full 8th grade team this year which included losing one of its best players.  The shortage required moving up certain 7th graders so as to  fill out the roster and so as to not overly dilute the 7th grade team.  He has responded to the challenge by leading by example and work ethic.  He has had to play every position and he has never taken a single drill or moment off.  While an exceptional shooter and scorer, he is first and foremost a team player who gets everyone involved.  He plays stellar defense the way it is supposed to be played and all from his heart.  He has looked after the 7th graders providing encouragement when they are over matched which is often.  He never complains. He plays with a true love and respect for the game and a maturity, grace and joy that is beyond his years.

2. North Reading: CARL LIPANI -
Carl Lipani, #44, is in his 4th year of travel basketball for the town of North Reading.  He is a 2 guard primarily, but basically can play any position on the court.  He isn’t always our leading scorer but he is usually tops in minutes played.  He always seems to be around the ball when good things happen for us.  He always seems to get the big steals, rebounds or baskets when needed most.  In four years he has never once argued with a referee or been disrespectful to them. He has never complained or shown emotion when coming off the court sooner than he would like.  He has never asked to play any particular position. In contrast, he has played any position that was asked of him. He is selfless on the court. Through his actions his team mates and coaches look to him as a leader. As much as Carl is a great leader on the court, he is an excellent representative of the youth of North Reading. Carl is a top student at the North Reading Middle School.  His teachers and peers speak highly of him.  He has been a pleasure to coach over the years

3. Manchester-Essex: LIAM ALDRICH - WINNER! -
Liam Aldrich is one of the smallest eighth grade players in the CAL but has one the biggest hearts when it comes to playing basketball.  As ME's point guard for the last four years, he has great command of the game, sees the whole court when he’s bringing up the ball, typically scores between 15 – 20 points a game, is a tenacious defender, but would prefer to be complimented for his assists. He is probably best known for his speed down the court on fast breaks and his dribbling through pressure. Liam is a team player and after lots of games, many referees will approach him to congratulate him on how well he conducts himself on the court and for his basketball skills. Off the court, Liam volunteers to help his younger sister’s travel team by attending all of their practices and helping their coach. Liam is an A student in school.

4. Newburyport: IAN MICHAELS -
Ian (#35) has played 4 years on the Nbpt teams in CAL. He's worked hard every year to improve his game. Every season his role on the team has changed and he has accepted every challenge. Ian is a team leader who pushes his teammates in practice. He has displayed good sportsmanship throughout his CAL career.

5. Beverly: BRENDAN McGEE - If you were to come to Beverly after our weekly 2 hour practice, you would find Brendan McGee voluntarily running sprints, followed by a series of free throws, simply to make himself a better basketball player. Brendan McGee is a player that every coach wishes to have on their team, and is the absolute personification of the word Leader. So often, as a coach, you hear about either “vocal leaders”, or “leaders by example”. If you spend one practice with Brendan McGee, you’ll see that it is possible to be both. He is one of the hardest working kids, both on and off the basketball court, that I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching. Brendan has consistently made the honor role throughout his middle school career, and has managed to juggle football, hockey, and baseball all the while. After having a conversation with Brendan about his future plans, he expressed his interest in becoming involved with the United States Air Force. This didn’t surprise me at all; it is not uncommon to receive a response like “yes sir” or “yes coach” while instructing B rendan on the court. It speaks to his outstanding character and integrity. With all this said,  this recognition of Brendan’s tremendous attitude and sportsmanship will undoubtedly mean more to his coaches and his parents than it would to Brendan, and that in itself  proves his worth to receive the Jack Gabriel Award.

6. Gloucester: JASON VIZENA - Jason (#14) has been one of our top players for 4 years,but more importantly he demonstrates all the characteristics that the Jack Gabriel Award stands for. Jason is the type of young man that is looked up to by his peers,both on and off the court. This year he was asked to take on a role that he knew would reduce his scoring chances,but never questioned it,and took on that roll which has made a great difference in our season. His unselffishness has had a lasting effect on his teammates and has made us a much better team. Jason exhibits sportsmanship,by never getting down on his teammates,he never questions the officials and always respects opposing players and coaches. Jason has a great understanding for the game of basketball, and having him on the team is like having a second coach.

7. Danvers: CODY MERRITT - As the head coach of the Danvers 8th grade team this year, despite a losing season, one of the bright spots was to see the maturity of this young man.  As a 4-year starter at point guard, his role has evolved from a “scorer” to a “playmaker and team leader” the past two seasons.  I remember a couple of years ago when, like many boys his age, got very upset and down on himself when things did not go well on the court.  Consequently, he occasionally assessed blame to others (teammates, referees, etc.).  However this year, that he separated himself from others in this regard. Being on a team that has lost several very close games can be frustrating to many athletes.  And while Cody is an intense competitor, he showed himself to be gracious in defeat (picking up his teammates, first in line for the post game handshake, etc.) throughout the year.  Moreover, he plays the game with a great deal on intelligence – directing things on floor and offering constructive opinions to me during games. In summary, Cody’s qualifications in terms of his sportsmanship, intelligence, and as a competitor and leader make him ideally suited for this award.

8. Marblehead: SCOTT TEMME - Scott Temme is probably the hardest working player on the Marblehead 8th grade team. He always gives his all during practice and games and has continued to improve during his three years of participating in the CAL. Scott has always respected the opponents he played against and never underestimated their abilities. Scott has always displayed good sportsmanship and has never put himself above the team. Scott’s older brother plays on the Marblehead High School varsity basketball team and one of Scott's  goals is to follow in his brother’s footsteps. With his hard work, dedication and commitment to bettering himself and his teammates, I feel he will accomplish this goal.

9. Masconomet: BRANT ABRAHAM - It is always difficult choosing one individual for recognition when you have eleven outstanding candidates. However, the coaches chose Brant for his supportive nature on the court and off. We agreed that he holds all the qualities that you would want in a team leader. He has always been very supportive of all teammates and coaches and represents the Masco program with class. If you wanted to define a team player, look no further than Brant. The Masco coaches have watched Brant grow into an outstanding fine young man. There is no doubt that whatever Brant decides to do in the future he will always find great success.  Don Van Lenten and John Schleer, 8th Grade Masco Coaches.  

10. North Andover: LARRY FLYNN - Larry Flynn has played travel North Andover Cape Ann travel for the past two seasons. Having been cut from both 5th and 6th grade travel teams in town, many kids would have been discouraged and given up.  He may have been a bit discouraged but he didn't give up. He tried out in 7th grade and was selected.  His 7th grade year was a bit of a learning experience, but he helped the team greatly. His 8th grade year has seen him flourish as a basketball player, and he has become a great contributor on both ends.  It is obvious that he worked hard in the off seasons, and continues to work hard during this season.   He is a versatile player who can play guard or forward.  He is one of our best defenders, and a great rebounder for his size.  He is very intense during both our practices and games. Most importantly, he is the most respectful kid I have ever run into. He is always polite with his coaches, refs and players.  Although competitive like any other 8th grade player, he has a great perspective on the game.  Knowing when the game is over and the season is over, you leave your reputation as a player with your coaches, teammates and opponents on the floor.  He has been an absolute joy to Coach and I wish him a great High School career.  Coaches Mark Ford and Jim Gorgoni

11. Pentucket: TIM FREIERMUTH - #14,  is mature beyond his years when it comes to basketball.  He has a great respect for the sport and the many facets of the game.  There is not a coach out there who has not seen the fiery red head consistently rebound, defend, score, pass, and execute on all aspects of the game.   His drive, sportsmanship, heart, and commitment set the tone at every practice and game.   He believes in unity and teamwork.  His character and actions raise the standards of those around him.  Tim exemplifies exactly what you want a kid to give to a sport and develop from the sport.  It is for this reason Jack started this league and it is for this reason Tim should be considered for this award. 

12. Saugus: PETER BOCCHINO - (  BO # 5)  He has been playing travel basketball since it began 6 years ago. He played on the 5th grade team as a 3rd & 4th grader.The following 3 years he played up  06- 08 in the NSBBL. This year saugus saugus was welcomed into the CAL and peter is our humble ambassador. He maintains honor roll grades at Austin Prep School all the while. As a player he is a very, very skilled ballhandler who sees the court well and can shoot the 3 well beyond the arc consistently.He plays hard nosed defense and is an absolute leader on the court . He takes a good pounding on the court and never , never complains.In all the years he has played basketball he gets nothing but compliments by officials and opposing coaches on his attitude and play. Most of the time his players count on him to be their leader and he does it graciously. Peter Bo does this as an undersized guard with the heart and determination of a lion.His favorite is ( I dont feel small on a basketball court) He has been a pleasure to coach and treasure to our program, but most of all a role model for saugus basketball.
 
13. Peabody: BEN MARTINEZ - a young man that plays hard, shows respect for his opponents and team mates and remembers the meaning of sportsmanship.


14. Amesbury: MATT TALBOT He is our leader, our go to guy, the guy everyone looks for. He will take the ball to the hoop and dish off to anyone and everyone if they are open. He will play where you tell him to, to the best of his ability, no back talk. His flaw is his defense but this flaw is because he is always looking to help out his teammates whether he is covering the #2 player in the league (we believe him to be #1) or others. This is his number one sport and he would play it constantly if he could. In 4 years of travel basketball, I can remember only once him not participating in practice due to being sick (this year) but he was there, at the far end of the court shooting. This year, when his tooth was broken in a game, he was right back out there leading the team.

15. Lynnfield: STEPHEN CARANGELO 
(#32)  Four year player and four year leader of his team.  Hard worker at all times on the court and respected by his peers.  He is looked up to by his teammates and he always encourages his mates to be the best they can be on the floor.  He has worked diligently to improve his basketball skills.  He is a "team player" in every sense of the word.  He puts all his successes in perspective as contributing to the team's framework and for the team's success.  Stephen is eager to learn from his coaches and is attentive and respectful and most importantly, he follows coaches directions.  He now realizes hard work on defense brings team success and is another important part of basketball.  Oh yes, he has fun on the court too, which makes him a positive asset to all around him.  Stephen is my pick for this award and i am proud to nominate him.   Kevin Canty