By Tom O'Brien
The Haverhill Gazette
---- — It was a good start to the new year, as Haverhill teams won three of the first five contests of 2013. The hockey, boys basketball and boys swim teams each came away with big victories last week.
After starting the season with five losses to five of the top teams in the state, the boys basketball team reeled off three straight victories. The Hillies pounded Dracut 78-38 and followed with wins over Acton-Boxboro (48-38) and Tewksbury (78-52). Haverhill hosts Dracut again on Friday at 7 p.m.
The boys swim team has won two straight, including a big Merrimack Valley Conference win over Lowell. The Hillies edged the Red Raiders 98-87 at home last Friday, defeating them for the first time in five years to improve to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the league. Haverhill hosts Andover on Friday afternoon at the Charles C. White Pool.
Five different players scored as the hockey team got in the win column with a 5-3 victory over Dracut last Wednesday. Haverhill hosts North Andover on Saturday at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for four straight games.
With three outstanding tournament performances, Samie Al-Ziab is now regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the state at 220 pounds. The sophomore won the Wilmington Tournament on Dec. 15. At the Lowell Holiday Tournament he took down the top-seeded wrestler from Central Catholic twice en route to a third place finish. Last weekend, Al-Ziab recorded four straight victories at the Chelmsford Tournament to claim his second tourney title of the year.
The boys and girls indoor track teams had a light schedule over the holidays, but did post some strong finishes as the 2012 MSTCA Holiday Challenge back on Dec. 29. Alex Mayhew placed second in the 55-meter dash while Riley Gilmore (1-mile) and Jackie Solimine (2-mile) placed second in their respective events. The Hillies will return to the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston on Saturday for the Division 1 Relays and will resume their dual meet schedule next Wednesday against Chelmsford.
The girls basketball team snagged its first win of the year at the Epping High School Holiday Tournament. The Hillies defeated Sanborn 46-30.
Haverhill returns home on Jan. 15 to host Methuen at 7 p.m.
Tom O’Brien is athletic director at Haverhill High School. He contributes this regular column.