It was a happy homecoming for Goffstown’s Largy

Staff photo by TOM KING Former Nashua junior high girls hoop coach Steve Largy enjoyed a successful homecoming coaching the Goffstown High School Grizzlies at the Chick Fil A tournament, winning the title.

NASHUA – It was a homecoming of sorts.

When Goffstown High School girls basketball coach Steve Largy spent three days leading his team to the Chick-Fil-A tournament title at Nashua South’s Belanger Gym, there were lots of hugs and greetings to go around.

That’s because Largy was always a popular figure in the Nashua education and coaching system. He taught here and coached girls basketball at Elm Street.

“It’s nice,” he said of his team winning the tourney title with a 64-31 title game triumph over Nashua South. “But it’s hard because I’ve coached a lot of these kids. I coached a lot of the kids on North and a lot of the kids on South. So I root for their success and feel their pain as much as the kids that I coach now.”

Largy and his young family moved out of the area a couple of years ago, and he got a new job teaching at the middle school in Goffstown and last year got the girls hoop job – always a huge hot seat in that town – and guided the Grizzlies to a 13-5 Division II mark.

“To be able to see former players, and be able to get hugs from kids like Janessa Lofton, who makes the All-Tourney Team, and see her growth and personal development, that’s really fullfilling. It’s kind of nice to have that homecoming.”

“It’s great to see everybody and see all the old faces.”

They should be happy with the job Largy has done at Goffstown, and he’s certainly happy to coach a dynamic point guard like junior Kelly Walsh, who had 53 points combined in the semis and finals against North and South.

“I knew about her a little bit,” Largy said. “I had seen her in previous tournaments but never got to coach against her (at the junior high level). But I knew coming into the job, there was definitely a lot of talent I was coming in to.”

And it’s shown. The Grizzlies are off to a 4-0 start in their move to Division I (7-0 overall if you include the tourney), and have a few more winnable games over the next couple of weeks. Their schedule the second half of the season is a little tougher, but they should definitely be included in the conversation of teams you don’t want to face in the post season if things keep going the way they have.

“Last year we got better,” Largy said. “This year, we have one more year of continuity.”

Ironically, had Largy stayed in the area, he may have been a prime candidate for the vacant Nashua South job that went last spring to Doug Booth, as he had aspired to get a head high school job at some point.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said of his career goal. “Like I’ve said, it’s all worked out for everybody.”

Largy won’t be back to the area until perhaps in the tournament (although you could speculate Bishop Guertin will be the only Nashua area team the Grizzlies wouldn’t have home court for) as they host South on Jan. 18 and BG on Feb. 21.

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Another Chick-Fil-A tourney is in the books, and it certainly appeared to be successful. But it is likely the last one for tourney director John Penkala, whose son Andrew – injured for this year’s event – is in his final year playing for Nashua South.

“I think my immediate reaction is we’re going to find some really qualified people to take over for me,” Penkala said. “We’re going to transition them for next year.

“I hope to come back as a spectator, eat some good sandwiches in the stands and watch some good basketball, but no real intention to come back for awhile in this capacity (directing the tourney).”

Penkala teamed up with Nashua athletic director Lisa Gingras and her administration, plus volunteers, to transition the tourney into not only a boys basketball event but then a girls event as well, a major undertaking. That made it a major event in the region, with 16 teams vying for two titles, and eight games being played each day, 24 in a three-day stretch. If there were any weather/timing issues, South was the perfect spot since it has an auxiliary gym where teams can either play or warm up. As a result, the tourney ran like clockwork.

“It runs itself once we get here,” Penkala said. “Long days, and Lisa Gingras and the coaches are fantastic. It’s really just rolling out the ball and having some good games.”

Penkala says numerous parents run the booths, take tickets, etc., and he’s had a core of four or five volunteers who help with the organizing, program, etc.

“The volunteers, I couldn’t do it without them,” he said.

And, now, it seems, the tournament will have to do it without John Penkala.

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The local high schools aren’t wasting any time athletically getting back into things after the holiday break as today/tonight (Wednesday) there are basketball, hockey and wrestling events flooding the schedule. One of the more attractive games will be the Nashua North boys hosting Bedford in boys basketball. The Bulldogs have beaten South and Bishop Guertin by a combined five points, and head coach Mark Elmendorf was a frequent visitor to the Chick Fil A, scouting.

It’s pretty clear that this Titan team, which lost to Maine’s Thorton Academy in the tourney finals, are a more intense, talented and athletic version from last year’s team with players like Curtis Harris, Brenden Choate and Nate Kane leading the way.

“Some toughness,” Lane said. “Some toughness that you didn’t really think was there. We’re growing as a group every day. If we improve every day, I’ll be the happiest coach in the world.”

Merrimack hockey, fresh off a finals appearance in the inaugural Keene Holiday Tourney, gets the whole day going today with a 4 p.m. game at Manchester’s West Side Arena vs. Somersworth/Coe-Brown. Also, both Nashua North and South wrestling teams are playing host to Keene and Exeter, respectively.

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Bishop Guertin junior quarterback Hayden Moses was invited to and will be competing in the Football University National Combine held during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week in San Antonio, Texas, this Thursday and Friday. The event is modeled after the NFL Scouting Combine (that takes place in February), and has events such as 40 yard dash, short shuttle, vertical jump, one-on-one competition as well as a seminar at the Alamodome. Obviously plenty of college scouts are expected to be in attendance.

Moses, a junior, split time at quarterback last year with sophomore Joey Dasilva and finished the season at the lone QB after Dasilva got hurt. He made the most of it with eight TD passes in his final 10 quarters.

Moses is also a third degree black belt and two-time martial arts champion.

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One of the things that often goes unnoticed are the community volunteer acts that are performed by local high school teams. One was done by the Nashua South girls hoop team, as some players delivered some home cooked dinners/desserts to Nashua Fire Department Station 6 just before Christmas, with, as Panthers guard Jasmine Sylvester said in an email, “the intention to thank them for their constant dedication and work – especially for taking time away from their families during the holiday season to ensure the safety of Nashua residents.”

Sylvester said the team plans on doing more community acts throughout the course of the season.