SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 8, 2014

Jean DePlacido column: Fleming excels at Salem State

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — Ginny Fleming ended her basketball career at Salem State in style.

The captain from Peabody was honored at intermission of the MASCAC men’s championship game between the Vikings and Bridgewater State last Saturday and given a plaque for making the All-Conference second team.

But that was only one of the four awards for the scrappy forward, who started all 27 games for the Lady Vikings this winter while averaging 28.4 minutes, 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. She was second on the team in both points scored and rebounds.

Earlier, Fleming learned she had made the New England Women’s Basketball Association Honor Roll for the week of Feb. 23 after scoring 20 points in the victory over Bridgewater State and 24 points, 15 rebounds and two blocked shots in the win over MCLA. Fleming was also selected MASCAC and SSU Player of the Week for her outstanding performance.

“It was pretty nice to end on such a high note,” said Fleming. “To get four big honors like that was a good way to finish.”

Fleming, who had a great high school career with the Tanners, transferred to Salem State from Westfield State. For that reason, she will spend another year getting her degree.

The biology major with concentration in the biomedical sciences and minor in chemistry made the MASCAC All Academic Team. She intends to go to graduate school.

The fourth-seeded Lady Vikings ended their season with a playoff semifinal loss to Bridgewater State. Fleming was one of only three seniors on the squad, joining Ashley White of Salem and Lara Bruni of Gloucester (who played at Bishop Fenwick).

“We’re all friends and have played with or against each other our whole careers,” said Fleming. “Our team got off to a slow start, but we picked it up. We were not selected (during the preseason) to be in the (MASCAC) tournament this season, so it was really nice to get there.”

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Since Jay Smith came aboard as an assistant coach for the Peabody High track program, things have been moving rapidly in the right direction.

Smith took the team to a USATF sanctioned weight throw meet at Harvard last week, where 15 boys and one girl from Gloucester, St. John’s Prep, Burlington and Peabody competed. All seven Tanner boys set new personal bests, with junior Marcus Vieira (57-6 1/2) qualifying for the New Balance National Championship Meet in New York and junior Ariel Ayala (48-6 1/2) for the Emerging Elite Division in the 25-pound weight class. Vieira’s throw was four feet longer than his previous best while Ayala’s was five feet better.

Junior Anthony Christo’s 45-5 throw was a personal best by three feet and qualified to compete at Brown University in the Weightarama. Freshman Patrick Pang (36-7), junior Anthony Saputo, junior John Spinale and junior Victor Teixeira all showed a big improvement in what Smith called “a banner night.”

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Providence College freshman Catarina Rocha of Peabody has been turning heads on the track and cross country course for quite some time. Her latest honor is the result of hard work in the classroom, making the All-Academic Team. Five Friars received the award, and the squad was named NCAA Division 1 Scholar Team of the Year by the USTFCCCA last month. They were first in the country out of 217 programs with a cumulative 3.38 GPA.

The Friars proved they are not only the best team in the nation, but also the smartest.

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For the next two weeks, 80 members of the United States Paralympic Team will compete in Sochi, Russia. Laurie Stephens, who went to Hamilton-Wenham High School, is one of the favorites in skiing.

It is the third Paralympic Games for Stephens. She will be looking to add to her medal total after winning two gold in Torino, Italy, in 2006 and silver at Vancouver in 2010.

The UNH graduate now makes her home in Aspen, Colo. but her family still lives in Wenham. Downhill has been her strongest event, but she is solid in all the monoskiing events.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.