Undefeated Lisbon boys take middle school conference title

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Lisbon - posted Fri., Feb. 25, 2011
Team captain Albert Tulli (left) and his teammates celebrate their 68-28 win over Wheeler to clinch the SEMSAC boys' basketball championship. Photos contributed by Tammy McManaway and Christine Shogren. - Contributed Photo

 Coach Bill Beckwith can’t help smiling when he looks at the photo of his team captain, Albert Tulli, whooping in joy at the end of their championship game against Wheeler Middle School.

“I love the picture. I smile every time I see it,” he said. “That young man is an eighth-grader and one of the captains. He is pretty much expressing three years of hard work.”

Beckwith’s Lisbon Central School boys’ basketball team ended a stretch of “almost, but not quite” seasons with a definitive 68-28 win in the Southeastern Connecticut Middle School Athletic Conference championship finals. The team was a powerhouse this year, going for a 14-0 record in the regular season and 2-0 in post-season play.

“It’s been six years since we’ve had a season like this,” Beckwith said. The team went up against nine other conference large-division teams, including Sterling, Preston and Salem, as well as smaller schools such as Bozrah and Voluntown. Each time, they brought home a victory.

“I’ve been coaching the team for five seasons,” Beckwith said. “Every year we have made it into the championship game and for four years we have lost…by one, two or three points.”

The game against Wheeler capped the team’s winning season in decisive fashion. “It was an incredible game,” said Beckwith. “I didn’t expect the boys to play the way they did.”

Beckwith, who also coached track and cross country at Lisbon Central School, served as assistant basketball coach for two years prior to accepting the head coach’s mantle. Now he’s assisted by Mario Tulli and Sean McManaway. “In the years I’ve been involved with the team, we’ve had about 10 players go on to play high school basketball, maybe more,” he said.

Stretched on the wall behind the team's bench at the championship game was a banner, hand-painted by members of the team, which read, "There is no limit to what can be accomplished."

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