By: Jeremy Leveille
With AAU basketball season officially here, one program making headlines is the New England Flames. Formerly called the NH Flames, they are now expanding outside of the Granite State.
“We just got our first Vermont player, a 5-foot-10 fifth grader who plays for coach Leonid Gershgorin” said Frank Girginis, who is on the Flames’ Board of Directors.
Not only are the Flames adding players from other states, but they are also putting an increased emphasis on their older teams.
“We feel we have strong competitive teams in all age groups this season especially with the high school teams as we have a really talented incoming freshmen team coached by myself and Scott Purcell.”
“It should be a very good year for all the age groups, especially my team as we want to make a run at the AAU Nationals in Florida” said Girginis, who used to coach with the NE Shooting Stars on the AAU circuit and the Goffstown High girls varsity team. “My team has a lot of Tri-County Champions on it from this past Middle school season. Seven players won their division and nine played in the championship game. All were key players for their middle school teams and will be moving on to HS next season.”
The Flames incoming freshman team includes five players from the Tri-County Class I undefeated Nashua Catholic team. They are Meghan Donovan (going to BG), Molly Dee (going to Hollis/Brookline), Meghan Morelli (going to BG), Erienne Kolden (going to Hollis/Brookline) and Caroline Hoffer (going to BG, only a 7th grader).
The team also has a pair of players from the Tri-County Class L Champions Merrimack team in Brianne Nordengren and Amanda D'Amico (both going to Merrimack). From the Tri-County Class L regular season Champions and Class L runner ups Hudson Middle school (coached by Girginis) they have Nicole Teague (going to Alvirne). Nicole actually broke the school's single season scoring record this year. That’s very impressive considering that is the same middle school where the Purcell sisters and Jamie Sherburne all played at.
Also on the team is Litchfield’s Hannah Fabiano who led her team in scoring (going to Campbell), Rachel Marion who was the starting PG from Pelham (going to BG) and Jill Rabasco from Fairgrounds who led her team in points and rebounds (going to Nashua South). For a more in-depth look at Girginis team you can go to his teams’ website newenglandflames-girginis.com
The Flames’ 7th grade team coached by Bob Johnson has won the AAU State Championship the past two years. Roger Dunning, who played college ball at the University of Southern Maine, is coaching the incoming sophomore’s team. The Flames also have a talented group in the 10th grade coached by Andrew Pierce. Erin Baldwin, who played college ball at SNHU the past four years, is coaching one of the Flames’ 6th grade teams. Another recent former college player is Michaela Galvin. Michaela just graduated from Plymouth State University where she has played the past four years as well. She coaches the Flames 4th grade team. The program’s director who has been at the helm as well as a former coach of the Flames for the past 15 years is Jim Duggan.
“Overall the Flames are looking to attract players of all levels from all over New England and add to their player count of over 120 kids as we have multiple teams in each grade level from grades 4 through 10th” said Girginis.
“The New England Flames really focus on the fundamentals of basketball. We keep the price for AAU reasonable; you get the most for your dollar.”