August 19. 2017 2:16AM

John Habib's City Sports: Expect West to push tempo under new coach Gorham


West boys' basketball coach Justin Gorham poses in the school gym on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER WEST principal Richard Dichard didn’t have to look far to fill the vacant boys’ basketball coaching post.

Former Goffstown head coach Justin Gorham, who is a 12-year physical education teacher at Manchester West, will succeed Dan Bryson, who recently was named the head boys’ basketball coach at Manchester Memorial.

“Justin fulfilled my No. 1 requirement of having a qualified coach in our building,” said Dichard. “We were searching for and wanted someone of Danny’s caliber who would relate to our kids well and bring a style of play that best fits the makeup of our squad.”

Dichard, who also officiates basketball, is familiar with Gorham from his four years (2006-10) at Goffstown. “He likes to play an up-tempo style, rotates in many players who maximize both ends of the floor. I felt he overachieved as a coach at Goffstown with the talent level he had there.”

During the interview process, Dichard revealed he had one of his basketball players questioning the candidates. “The questions ranged from whether they were an offensive- or defensive-minded coach to whether they were laid back or an ‘in-your-face’ type of coach,” said Dichard. “We had a pool of 12 exceptional applicants and we felt Justin was the right fit for West.”

The 50-year-old Gorham, married with two adult children, is a native of Riverside, Calif. His coaching background includes a 2005 assistant coaching stint under Paul Hogan at NHTI in 2005. At Goffstown, he led the Grizzlies to four playoff appearances, bowing out in the first round of the Division II tournament each time.

He said one of his teams at Goffstown averaged 85 points a game. “If you thought Dan Bryson’s tempo was fast, which it was, my tempo will be faster,” said Gorham. “We will play as if a shot clock is in existence.”

Gorham said he was asked by the basketball player at his interview if he was an “in-your-face” type of coach. “I told him I wasn’t, but I also told him I expect my players to play hard. This isn’t about me. It’s about the kids playing hard, learning something positive from the game and having fun.”

Under Bryson, West was a contender for the state Division II title.

Dichard said he expects Gorham to keep West at that level. “What we shared with him is our expectation that the program will continue to be successful,” said Dichard. “We expect to be right where we’ve been, a top contender, a top-seven club. I don’t expect anything less, especially coming off of last year when we had a very strong JV squad, one of the better teams in the state.”

Gorham said “I’ve got good players coming back, kids like Kuany Peng and Gob Gob. I’ve got to get them to buy into my system. At Goffstown, when we averaged 85 points a game, we scored over 100 points five times that season. As a coach, I take pride in coaching offense. That’s not to say we won’t play good defense, because we will, but offense is my style.”

Gorham, who has a weekly radio sports show on WMNH 95.3 FM every Thursday from 3-4 p.m. and who said he will broadcast the city football games on Manchester Community Television, is still searching for a JV coach. He has named former West player Josh Wilson of Hooksett as his freshman coach.

- - - - -

SIX YEARS AGO, Christine Freitas was going through her battle with cancer after being diagnosed with Stage 3/4 melanoma. This week, she recalled the moment when her doctors told her she had cancer.

“It wasn’t easy to hear the words ‘you have cancer’,” said Freitas. “Mentally, physically and emotionally it took its toll on me, my family and closest friends. But I did what I had to do. I battled it with the help of my doctors, who were wonderful and caring and, today I’m free of the disease. I’m a cancer survivor. There was a time when someone was told they had cancer, it was considered a death sentence. That’s not the case anymore.”

Next week, Freitas is asking our community to strike back against cancer by supporting and donating to the seventh annual Playing for a Purpose field hockey jamboree. 

You can do it two ways. The first way is to attend a pre-jamboree, fund-raiser on Tuesday at Stark Brewing Company, 500 North Commercial St. in Manchester from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The fund-raiser will include a silent auction and raffles.

The second way is to attend the jamboree next Saturday at Manchester Memorial from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a concession stand, raffles, and a $5 donation bucket toward the fund-raiser.

The highlight of the jamboree occurs at noon when all the players representing 18 teams statewide hold each other’s hands and form a giant circle.

At that time in a powerful moment of unity, each team reads off names of people they’re representing who are or were affected by cancer in their community. Players from every school tell a story about someone in their community who has beaten, is battling or, sadly, has died of cancer.

“Visually, it’s a moment to behold,” said Freitas. “You’ve got all the players, from one end zone to the other, holding hands. Tears are shed, some happy, some sad. But it’s a show of unity, our field hockey girls coming together for the same cause.”

Central head coach Bill Larkins said, “my team has participated in the jamboree every year and I’m always impressed to see how tight the field hockey community is. To see our coaches, players and officials unite as one, fighting for a cause to beat cancer, it’s really inspirational.”

In six years, the jamboree has raised $49,000 and the goal this season is to reach $60,000. It can be done with your help. Please take a few minutes of your time to help this great cause and support our field hockey teams who are sticking it to cancer. Proceeds will go to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center for patient services and cancer research.

- - - - -

SOMEONE at Trinity High needs to talk to John Trisciani about getting the football numbers back up. Trisciani is a football icon in this city, a great coach, well respected across the state as well.

He was the one who resurrected Trinity’s program a decade ago, getting over 60 kids to play for the Pioneers, who at the time were in jeopardy of losing their program. Currently Trinity has 26 players on its roster, a shaky number for director of athletics Chip Polak or anyone associated with Trinity to bank their hopes on fielding a varsity team next season. The wise and best move now is to call Trisciani.