Unified basketball

Members of the Berlin Unified teamed up with alumni in December for a fun game (front row, from left) Ross Belanger, Candice Howry, Dave Morse (partially hidden), Julia Gray, Jenah Arsenault, Jerry Healy, Autumn Johnson, Emile Morris, Madison Letarte, Alex Poirier, Alyssa Delafontaine, Amelia Piet; (back row from left) Randy Belanger, Dylan Bisson, Felix Frechette, Chris Trask, Roger Belanger, Matt Demers (bottom), Jon Demers (top) Kolbe Delafontaine and Emile Roy. (J. DELAFONTAINE PHOTO)

Hello to all. Hopefully this finds you all healthy, safe, making the best of the situation, and the students had better be doing their schoolwork!

As published in Tuesday's edition of the Berlin Sun, the NHIAA Executive Board made a difficult decision regarding post season high school tournaments cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-champions were awarded to the highest-seeded teams remaining on each side of the tournament brackets, with all other teams remaining in the tournament being declared runners-up.  They took into account regular season and team progress throughout the tournament prior to the suspension of play.

This decision gave the co-championship to three Berlin teams:

Division I Girl's Hockey:Concord and Berlin-Gorham.

Division I Co-Ed Unified: Basketball-Berlin and Exeter.

Division III Boy's Hockey: Berlin and Kennett.

Congratulations to all six of those teams but particularly to our three local teams, as they each had an unbelievable season and an unprecedented one, with three teams from one season in the finals. This is not the perfect finish some would like, but it is a fair, unbiased resolution and compromise to a very unique and uncommon situation that the world is in, to say nothing about our country, our city and our sports' teams.

Berlin Athletic Director Craig Melanson said it well: "Even though this is not the way we wanted things to end, regardless we had three teams playing in the state finals.  The athletes worked very hard to achieve what they did this past season. We need to leave personal opinions aside, and celebrate just what occurred and offer our congratulations to all of the players and coaches on a remarkable winter season. Three state championship banners will be hung in the Berlin High School gym!”

Craig went on to say, "Later on when things calm down a bit we will have a parade with all three teams and an awards' banquet where the kids will get the state plaque and their medals."

All three of those teams' coaches responded to me regarding the outcome. Berlin boy's hockey coach Mike Poulin said: "I respect the NHIAA's decision and if we are going to share the championship with anyone, Kennett and their great coaching staff, starting with Head Coach Mike Lane, and their players are a good group to do it with. And the title is "up North" for both teams which is a good thing too. Hopefully, next year we can settle it on the ice as we have some unfinished business.  “Congratulations to Coaches Karen Turgeon and Craig Bartoli on their teams' championships, too!"

Berlin Unified Basketball Coach, Karen Turgeon said: "It isn't how anyone of us wanted this to happen but in light of what is going on around us, it was the best decision.  The unified team from Berlin had a great season and this recognizes that. Congratulations to the other teams who worked hard all season and were recognized as well.  For my seniors, there is no next year so I am happy for them.  So we share — sharing isn't a bad thing."  

Well spoken, Karen.

And then Berlin-Gorham girl's hockey Coach Craig Bartoli comments included: "It's a tough time and  it has caused some stress for all involved, players, coaches, and fans. I am proud of all of the teams affected by this, and congratulate them. I am especially proud of my team, for the great and awesome year they had that no one can take away. Next year we will be right there again and we are looking forward to it."

A tip of the hat goes to Gorham Middle-High School alpine ski team Coach Sherrill Tracy, who will be stepping down after 26 years of coaching that sport in Gorham. I have know Sherrill for many years but got to work closely with her when I took this job as sports' editor of The Berlin Sun.  She was  most prompt, consistent, accommodating when it came to getting me information, quotes and results of her teams' meets, and I always appreciated it. Thanks, Sherrill, for that and for being so dedicated to the sport of alpine skiing at Gorham High!

According to Athletic Director Bill Goodrich, during those 26 years, her Gorham girl's alpine teams were champions once and runners-up five times, while the boys were in the second spot four times. Way to go, coach! Enjoy your free winters!

And finally, as a reminder, at a later date we will be highlighting the senior athletes at Berlin and Gorham high schools, with pictures and summaries of the completed winter sports' season.

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