Last week Bill Rafferty died much too soon at the young age of 59. "Raff" or Bill was what his friends called him and he was a friend among friends all the time. A north village kid from Webster and he was proud to say that he learned how to live life at the old little league field on Slater Street back in the 60s. The little league field was his home in the good weather.
When the seasons changed to cold weather Raff headed up to the old Boys’ club via the railroad tracks in Dudley. The gym at the old boys’ club was made for Raff. His push shot from just inside of half court was something he mastered into perfection over the years. Night after night he would launch that push shot that became his signature shot. All this happened before the 3 point shot, of course.Raff would tell anyone who would listen that his basketball career would have been prolonged if the 3 point shot existed during his prime in the 70s while he was firing away at Marianhill High School in Southbridge.
Bill Rafferty was proud to be a gunner in hoops and was never bashful when it came time to shoot the bomb. Layups were something Raff had to do in pre game warmups. He was interested in the 25-30 foot rainbows. He said "there is nothing like the sound of the swish of a 30 foot shot going through the rim." Anyone who saw Bill shoot a basketball knows that the arc and hangtime were world records. A 30 foot basketball shot by Bill Rafferty needed a high ceiling for sure. That right handed push shot of his was one of a kind.
By the way, offense was Bill’s game. His theory was to outscore his man when he played. Rest in peace, Bill Rafferty, you touched us along the way in a humble way and we all thank you. God speed.
The MIAA has proposed a realignment for the boys’ basketball season beginning in 2013-14. Shepherd Hill will be affected by the proposal in post season playoffs. The Rams are now in Division one in Central Mass. They will be moved down to Division two and play their post season in Western Mass against Western Mass opponents.
A scheduling nightmare is on the horizon for schools like Shepherd Hill. The Rams are in the SWCL. The move means that Shepherd Hill will have to obtain a waiver to compete in the Clark Tournament because Western Mass teams never participated in the Clark Tournament. I hope the Clark Tournament committee recognizes Shepherd Hill as a qualifying school. Schools coming to Central Mass are Natick, Acton-Boxboro, Framingham, Franklin, Concord-Carlisle, Westford, Holliston, Ashland, Hopkinton, Bellingham, Wayland, Medfield, and Medway. This is another power move by Eastern Mass and comes on the heels of Milford leaving Central Mass.
What this does to the landscape of Central Mass? It means that the above mentioned schools are looking for an easier way to the state final game in boys’ basketball. Those schools are just outside of the Route 495 and barely inside of Route 128. Some schools are way up north on 495. The only positive sentiment that comes out of this is that St. John’s can now schedule all those schools coming into Central Mass in 2013-14.
Let’s not forget that the football experience begins next fall and then the boys’ basketball realignment is in for next winter. I am looking into my crystal ball and I see Shepherd Hill traveling to Pittsfield for an opening post season game in 2014. All I can say is, bring your lunch. It is going to be a long day. By the way, if Shepherd Hill wins the Division 2 Western Mass tournament, their reward is now that they can come back to Central Mass to play the division 2 Central Mass champ.