Coaches, players on the move

Westfield High School junior guard Justin Crosby elevates high above the defense during a 2011-12 regular season boys’ basketball game. Crosby, now a senior, transferred to St. Mary in the offseason, and will attempt to help elevate the Saints to a league title and the postseason. (Photo by Fred Gore)

SOUTHWICK – Next Friday, a new era will begin at Southwick-Tolland Regional High School. While in nearby Westfield, another key change in the landscape will have boys’ basketball fans clamoring to get in the doors of gymnasiums all around the area.
In the offseason, Joe Molta announced his resignation after 25 years as the Southwick Rams’ boys’ hoops coach. He will be replaced by Andrew Burkholder, the current Director of Compliance at American International College.
Burkholder comes to the team with a boatload of basketball knowledge, having coached at the Division II and III collegiate levels. He helped lead Pennsylvania, where he coached for five years, to the D3 final in 2002 before moving to the area and becoming an assistant coach at Springfield College.
Burkholder, who also held an assistant coaching position at Shepherd University in West Virginia, became assistant coach of American International College in 2005, eventually helping lead the team to the NCAA D2 tournament six years later.

Southwick-Tolland boys’ basketball head coach Joe Molta instructs his players during a preseason practice. Molta resigned as the Rams coach in the offseason to take over as head coach of the St. Mary Saints. (Photo by Fred Gore)

Molta is set to take over the reins at St. Mary High School, where he will attempt to elevate the small private Catholic school in the Tri-County League, and in Division 3 as the team’s head coach.
“I just felt Southwick needed another voice,” Molta said this past offseason. “(St. Mary’s) is a great opportunity for me to give back to a school rich in basketball tradition that unfortunately for X number of years hasn’t reached that pinnacle. I’m excited about this opportunity.”
In a unique twist, Molta will inherit two former Westfield Bombers – returning senior Matt Plasse, a lanky three-point specialist who joined the team prior to the 2011-12 season, and senior transfer Justin Crosby.
Crosby is an electric point guard who was a member of Westfield’s boys’ hoops team which finished runners-up in Western Massachusetts two successive years in Division I.
Southwick will be the first area team to tip-off its hoops’ season. The Rams travel to Ware to take on the Indians next Fri., Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
St. Mary hosts rival Gateway Dec. 12 at Westfield Middle School South. Westfield opens its basketball slate Dec. 18 against visiting Taconic. Both games are slated to tip off at 7 p.m.
Notes: Westfield Vocational-Technical is not expected to begin its season until after the holidays.

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