Never too old to win the gold
Neither one played organized basketball after high school. During their college years and well beyond, though, they stayed sharp with pickup games here and there.
A chance meeting brought them together and steered them to the Massachusetts Miracles, a team founded at the 2006 Massachusetts Senior Games.
Five years later, Tina Quick of Winchester and Megan Ladd of Stoneham are national champions. The duo - along with teammates Barbara Cherecwich of North Attleborough, Kris Krablin of Stow, and June Walton of East Hartford, Conn. - traveled to Houston late last month to play in the 3-on-3 National Senior Games. They roared through seven straight opponents to win the gold medal in the 50-plus age division.
The Miracles dominated the competition, trailing in just one game - the championship final - and that was by just four points.
“Just an incredible feeling,’’ said Quick, the oldest (55) and shortest (5-foot-4) member of the team, who also served as captain.
“It’s not too often one can be part of a national championship team. We played against a lot of teams that had former Division 1 college players, and some that even played professionally. We peaked at the right time and just played a great stretch of basketball.’’
Ladd, the Miracles’ youngest (51) and tallest (6-foot) player, called the experience of winning a national championship “exhilarating, especially in the last minute of play when we knew we were going to win.’’
Although Quick and Ladd never played in college, they were surrounded by those that did. Cherecwich played at Worcester State, Krablin at St. Lawrence, and Walton at Morgan State, and later on pro teams in England and Venezuela.
“It was a great mix,’’ said Ladd, “and we worked so well as a unit. I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have won the national championship without those three on the team, and that we wouldn’t have won if any of us weren’t on it. In every game, someone stepped up and it was usually a different person. This truly was a team with great chemistry.’’
In pool play, the Miracles throttled teams from Arizona, Texas, and California by an average margin of 38 points. In medal-round play, they knocked off defending champion Maine, along with Tennessee and Arkansas, by an average of 14 points before polishing off Colorado, 39-26, in the championship game.
The high scorers? “Really couldn’t tell you,’’ said Quick. “We didn’t look at the box scores. If I had to guess, I’d say [Ladd and Walton]. We just kept feeding the ball to the big people.’’
Quick and Ladd took different paths to the Miracles.
Quick came from a military family and traveled extensively. Her husband, Jonathan, is an international public health physician, and his travels took him to such places as Pakistan, Kenya, and Switzerland.
“I played pickup basketball games in all those places and even coached at the International School of Geneva,’’ said Quick, a registered nurse who works with international students. “I played with the US Marines in Kenya and formed a women’s team in Pakistan.’’
She returned to the United States and settled in Winchester in 2004. Ladd grew up in Maine, went to Bates, then moved to Melrose in 1982 and to Stoneham in 2007. She’s a software developer at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
“My formal basketball career ended after high school,’’ she said. “From then on, it was a series of pickup games at YMCAs in Maine and Massachusetts. Once while I was playing in Burlington, someone asked me if I’d like to play at Fidelity House in Arlington. I did and it was there I happened to meet [Quick]. My age came up and she asked me if I’d be interested in playing 3-on-3. I was hesitant at first, but tried it and liked it. It was just a chance meeting. I never thought it would lead to a national championship.’’
Around and about
Beverly’s Jack Leathersich, the 162d overall pick (by the Mets) in last month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, has signed a pro contract. The 6-foot, 205-pound lefty was 6-2 with a 1.62 earned run average for University of Massachusetts Lowell last season. Foes batted .175 against him and he ranked second in the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings (12.74). He is awaiting assignment from the Mets. . . . Freshman Peter Belanger of Andover and sophomore Abby Mathews of Chelmsford have been honored by the Bentley swimming and diving team. Belanger was named most improved after a second-place finish in the 400 individual medley at the New England Championships, and Mathews received the team’s Scholar-Athlete Award. . . . Salem catcher Josh Treff is the New Hampshire Division 1 Player of the Year. The Northeastern-bound Treff batted .343 with 14 RBIs and 21 runs scored. . . . Like father, like son. Jed Koehler is the new executive director of Greater Lawrence Community Boating. His father, Peter, was executive director from 1979-2002. . . . Former Methuen High and Dartmouth star Dave Furey threw the javelin 255 feet 10 inches for a runner-up finish at the US Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. He has qualified for the World Championships, which take place Aug. 27 to Sept. 4 in South Korea. . . . Dave Kirsch played on the state championship basketball team at Timberlane Regional (Plaistow, N.H) in 1981 and 1982. Now he’s hoping to lead the Owls back to the glory days as its coach. Kirsch takes over a team that was 1-19 overall last season and 16-67 over the past four. He was an assistant at Salem last season. . . . Torrington Titans lefty Conner McMahon, a sophomore at Merrimack College, pitched the first no-hitter in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League with a 1-0 gem against the Seacoast Mavericks. He struck out 10 and walked none. Only one batter reached base, because of a second-inning error. McMahon was 1-5 with a 4.84 earned run average at Merrimack last season. . . . Middle hitter Corrine Gosselin of Lawrence, setter Allison Cote of Chelmsford, and outside hitter and Wheaton transfer Jackie Jones of Amherst, N.H., are part of the volleyball recruiting class at Merrimack. . . . Thad Broughton is the new boys’ varsity basketball coach at Peabody. He’s been the junior varsity coach the past four years.
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