By Jim Stout
If any team in the county should have an aversion to consolation games, the Salem State women would be it.
While playing for third place in the 1995 Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, Salem had apparently beaten St. Thomas by hitting a free throw after time had expired. The Vikings converted the first of a one- and-one, breaking a 73-73 draw, and their players and fans spilled onto the court to celebrate the 74-73 triumph.
But the game that was over wasn't over. After much discussion and debate, and some unauthorized input from an alternate official, Salem was slapped with a technical foul for disrupting the contest. St. Thomas used to the technical to tie the game again and send it into overtime, where the Tommies won 82-79.
"I was thinking about that incident on Saturday when someone asked me about the merits of the consolation game," said Salem coach Tim Shea. "We're the ones who could make the case for having a bad experience."
Instead, Salem went out last Saturday in Danbury, Conn., and made the 1999 consolation game a positive experience. The Vikings combined with the Connecticut College men to bring home to the Northeast a pair of third-place trophies as Salem defeated Scranton, 75-65, at the O'Neill Center.
"It basically goes back to our philosophy of trying to take a business-like approach with everything we do," said Shea. "Just like we do during the season, when maybe we're playing a team we should beat, we tried to treat the consolation game as importantly as another. Our curfew was the same, our pre-game meal and pre-game rituals were the same.
"And besides," he added, "third place is a lot better than fourth place."
The debate over whether to hold a third-place game occasionally comes up in Division III. It will undoubtedly come up again this week at the meetings in San Diego and later this spring as the NCAA's first trip to a neutral site for women is evaluated.
"I think if we're going to make this permanent site thing work," said Shea, "the consolation game should be a part of it. Look at this year: You had teams from Salem and Scranton helping put people in the stands in Danbury. I thought both teams played their hearts for third place. It was an excellent game. We would have stayed around to see the final anyway, but it was nice in the meantime to play another team with as much tradition and success as Scranton."
Though Salem loses starters Katie Duffey and Terri Niles to graduation, the Vikings will return nine others, including all-tournament pick Dee Jackson, Adrienne Johnson, Missy Smock and Kara Lunden. Scranton returns nearly its entire team, too, as does two-time national champ Washington University and 1999 runner-up St. Benedict.
Do you suppose some sort of rematches are in the works?
"Here's a funny footnote to the entire thing," said Shea. "We're going to open our season next November at the Elmira (N.Y.) tournament. Mount Union and Scranton are the other teams. I'm pretty sure we're going to face Scranton."
You can be sure the Vikings will have their game faces on. They always do.
DECHRISTOPHER STILL ROLLING: Plymouth State point guard Adam DeChristopher, who earned a long list of preseason and regular-season honors in 1998-99, has been selected ECAC New England co-player of the year for 1999. The senior captain, who shared the top honor with Connecticut College's Zach Smith, was also named to the ECAC All-New England first team for the second straight season.
DeChristopher was already named Little East Conference player of the year for a second straight season.
"Adam is such a special kid, he deserves all the recognition he's getting," said Plymouth coach Jim Ferry. "He carried us night in and night out. He is not only one of the best players I've ever coached, but one of the finest young men I've ever been around."
DeChristopher wrapped up a sensational career in a Panther uniform this season. He averaged 21.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals, helping Plymouth to a share of its second straight Little East regular-season title (11-3). He shot 45 percent from the field, 80 percent from the free throw line and 41 percent from 3-point range as the Panthers set the single-season school record for victories with a 22-8 overall record.
DeChristopher made his mark in the Plymouth all-time record book, too. He finished second on PSC's career scoring list with 2,090 points, which ranks eighth on New Hampshire's all-time men's basketball scoring list for all college divisions.
DeChristopher also connected on a school-record 278 career three-pointers, breaking the mark of early 1990s great Moses Jean-Pierre.
ECAC WOMEN'S ALL-STARS: First team: Kathleen Higgins (Williams), Colleen McCrave (Bates), Terri Niles (Salem), Emily King (Bates), Jen Zabek (Eastern), Dee Jackson (Salem);
Second team: Julie Plant (S. Maine), Linda Zapor (Western Conn.), Holly Maines (Westfield), Christina Hobson (Smith), Tracy Libby (S. Maine), Rebecca Brooks (Williams).
Third team: Jolene Thurston (Bates), Judy Izzo (Keene), Vicky Best (MIT), Katie Hersey (Amherst), Courtney Halloran (Clark), Chrissy Peterson (Middlebury).
ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS: Colby-Sawyer men's co-captains Marc Ferlo and Brian Wilder have shown that their skills are not just limited to the court. Both forwards have been selected to the 1998-99 GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America District I second team for the College Division (Division II, III, and NAIA). Colby-Sawyer has now been recognized with 11 District I Academic All-America selections in the past five years, including five from the men's basketball program.
Ferlo, who holds a 3.27 grade point average as an exercise and sport sciences major, was named the 1998-99 Commonwealth Coast Conference co-player of the year. He led the Chargers in scoring (21.0 ppg.) and rebounding (7.5 rpg.), and scored his 1,000th career point January 23. He has been named to Colby-Sawyer's Dean's List four times and has been a member of the school's campus activities board.
Ferlo has undergone one ankle and three knee surgeries (on the same knee) since entering college, including the most recent knee surgery, which was performed Dec. 11, 1998.
Wilder, who was also named to the District I Academic All-America second team last season, has a 3.28 grade point average as an exercise and sport sciences major. He led this year's team with a 54.9 field goal percentage (226-for-412) and was second on the squad in scoring (20.1 ppg.) and rebounding (7.3 rpg.).