The St. Mary’s High School girls basketball program has played at some renowned venues over the past two seasons.
Two years ago coach Jeff Newhall’s Lady Spartans won a national tournament at Disney World in Orlando, beating Coyle Cassidy on the famed parquet floor of the TD Garden, and topped it off with a trip to the DCU Center in Worcester where they won the state title.
There are annual games at Emmanuel College where this season (Jan. 12) the Spartans will play powerful Archbishop Williams, a team with six college-bound basketball players.
But there is only one Basketball Hall of Fame and one birthplace of basketball and on Thursday Jan. 17 (8:30 p.m.), the St. Mary’s team will play in the city where it all began back in 1891 – Springfield, Mass. The Spartans have been invited to compete in the Spalding Hoop Hall Classic where they’ll take the court against Sabis Charter School of Springfield, a Division 3 state finalist last year.
St. Mary’s is one of eight teams from New England competing in the invitational tournament. No. 1-ranked Braintree is playing Springfield, Oregon, in the tournament. Nine of the top ten ranked boys’ teams in the country will also compete in the tournament. Six of the games will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Newhall said he received an invitation from the Basketball Hall of Fame tournament committee in May.
“Obviously we jumped at that because it’s the premier high school basketball tournament in the country,” said Newhall. “I think is an exciting thing for our current team but I also think a lot of what we’re getting is the result of what some of the teams and the players have done for the program in terms of building it.”
The tournament will provide a great showcase for the St. Mary’s players including their talented junior trio of Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders.
The St. Mary’s team will stay two nights in a hotel in Springfield. On the Saturday following the tournament, the Spartans will play a game at St. Bernard High School in Fitchburg before returning to Lynn.
Newhall is pleased that the players will have the opportunity to tour the Basketball Hall of Fame that is located in Springfield. The games will be played at Springfield College.
Newhall isn’t looking west to Springfield yet. His team will be looking to claim the title in the annual Walter Boverini Tournament beginning Thursday. The Spartans play Tech in one semifinal while English meets Classical in the other semifinal.