WHS Sports: Hockey Team Hot, Big Comeback by Boys Hoops, Runners on Right Track

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Charlie Breitrose

The Raiders celebrate advancing to the Final Four of the MIAA Div. 4 Boys Hockey State Tournament.

Charlie Breitrose The Watertown boys hockey seeks another trip to the Final Four and the Final at the TD Garden after finishing runner-up in 2022.

The 2022-23 season has been a hot and cold one for the Watertown High School boys hockey. The Raiders appear to be heating up in the latter half of the season as they look to return to the Garden for a second straight state final.

The Raiders started the season winning four of their first seven games, and tying one. Then Watertown dropped four of six, and added another tie. The team turned it around and currently finds itself on a winning streak, said Watertown Boys Hockey Coach John Vlachos.

“January was a little rocky, but we have just beat Winchester 3-0, and Wakefield 2-1 in the month of February,” Vlachos said.

Last year, the Raiders made it all the way to the MIAA Div. 4 State Final, but fell in double overtime to Sandwich. This season, Watertown has some new additions from Wayland, as the two schools have entered into a co-op agreement where the Raiders are the host school.

“Playing with the Wayland players has given us the depth that we needed,” Vlachos said. “The Wayland players and parents have been great, the players all work very hard, and they played really well on the varsity and JV team.”

The new additions also mean a step up to Div. 3. Vlachos believes playing in the Middlesex League will prepare the Raiders for the higher division.

“Because the schools are bigger, I feel the competition will be at a  higher level,” Vlachos said. “We have to be ready to play every game and the goal is not just to get to the Boston Garden, it’s to win the D3 Championship!”

Despite being just a game over .500, the Raiders would have home ice advantage until the State Semifinals (which are played at a neutral site). Watertown currently is seeded third in the MIAA Div. 3 Power Rankings. The team hits the road before coming back to the John A. Ryan Arena on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 5:40 p.m. for the final regular season home game against Stoneham.

Watertown does not have its own girls hockey team this season. A handful of players have joined the co-op team hosted by Lexington. The team has a record of 3-10-1 and is currently ranked 29th in the MIAA Div. 1 Power Rankings.

Big Comeback

Watertown’s boys basketball team appeared headed to a fourth straight loss Friday night, down five to Burlington at halftime and 11 with five minutes left in the third quarter. The Raiders turned it around when it counted.

Senior Johnny Cacace drained a three pointer from the top of the arc to put the Raiders up for good with under a minute left in the game. Senior Robbie Iannetta iced the 52-48 win at the free throw line. The Raiders also got key baskets from Ben Kullman and Riley Donlan during the run.

“Yes, it was quite a nice comeback,” said Watertown Boys Basketball Coach Steve Harrington. “The guys stayed together and made some big shots down the end, including Johnny Cacace’s game winning three with about 50 seconds left.”

The win evens the Raiders’ record at 7-7, and they remain in a good spot to host a game in the MIAA Div. 3 State Tournament. Watertown sits 11th in the Div. 3 Power Rankings, according to the MIAA, meaning they would be in the top half of the 32 team bracket.

“We have a great group of seniors who have played together for some time,” Harrington said. “We are continuing to work hard and get better and hopefully do enough to get into the postseason.”

WHS’s girls basketball team would also host a home game in the first round of the State Tournament if the season ended today. The Raiders fell to Burlington Friday night 42-36, making their record 6-8. The team sits 14th right now in the MIAA Div. 3 Power Rankings.

Both Watertown basketball squads play Wilmington at home Tuesday night (girls at 5:30 p.m. boys at 7 p.m.). The games will be on WCA-TV’s Education Channel.

Runners on Fast Track

After a successful invitational meet against competition from around the state, multiple Watertown runners have their eye on the MIAA Div. 5 Indoor Championships on Feb. 16. at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Watertown junior Anna Lonergan ran the eighth fastest time in the girls mile with a time of 5:27.01 at the MSTCA Coaches Invitational Small Schools meet, which includes athletes from multiple divisions.

Sophomore Elsa Ryan finished 15th in the 600 meters with a time of 1:45.26.

Junior Max Bennett ran the mile in 4:53.47, the 27th fastest time at the meet.

Senior Henry Broadstone finished 43rd in the 300 meters with a time of 39.24, and sophomore Adam Wainwright finished in 39.47 for the 47th fastest time.

The Raiders also had success in the relays. Watertown’s girls 4 x 800 relay team placed fourth after running a time of 10:17.98. The boys 4 x 400 team finished 10th with a time of 3:56.45.

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