Controversial call sends it to overtime Knights lost in double overtime

On Thursday, Nov.23, 6 at p.m. Great Bay Community College visited NECC Knights for a non conference  game at the Sports and Fitness Center at the Haverhill campus. The Knights were 4-3 coming into today’s game with  a two game winning streak.

It was the first and probably the last giveaway of the season. Twenty-five fans in attendance received mullet wigs in honor of Matt D’Amato’s recent brush with viral fame. The video got viral on Instagram SportsCenter, with one commenter calling D’Amato the “The Mullet Mamba.”

They were 197 people in attendance that’s the most fans in attendance at home so far in the 2021-22 season.

Before the game in the tunnel I talked to the coach before the game and I talked to him about the video that went viral on Instagram “I thought it was very interesting that I don’t have social media so it was very intriguing to me. I am still trying to grasp all of this about the viral video about Matt and his haircut. It is funny that you mentioned that Matt asked me at the beginning of the year before our first game, he asked if I wanted him to cut his hair and I said absolutely not. As long as he keeps on the ball on the basket I don’t care what he wore for a haircut,” Stratton said.

Matt D’Amato and Jaleek Urena was in a minute restriction as they don’t want to push them to much as they re progressing coming off from a injury little by little. Jaleek  missed six games while Matt missed four games heading into the game against Great Bay.

Mehmet Asik was ready for the road trip as he was battling an illness. He played against Eastern Nazarene JV and University of Connecticut at Avery Point on the road trip. “Mehmet is just working his way back and still doesn’t have his conditioning as you’ll see tonight, we been trying to put him on  a minute restriction, increasing his minutes game by game. I was forced last game against UConn Avery Point to play him a little bit longer just because we had six game out… so he was forced to play a little bit longer…” Stratton said.

Knights in a classic game against Great Bay Community College Photo by Jose Rodriguez, Sports Editor

During the game in the first period Knights started off strong. They were rhythm, everything was going in their  favor as they started the game with 14-4 run. They were in the row throw line early on and they were making their shot.

Halfway in the first period Knights that’s when the Knights were not starting to play as aggressive as they were in the beginning.

“I feel we got less discipline on defense we weren’t executed as well on offense like we wanted to. We were rushing stuff but few adjustment I feel we going to work on it in practice tomorrow…” said Jasjit Banwait of Malton, Ontario.

Knights were leading 35-30 at the half despite almost blowing 14-4 lead to begin the game.

The momentum at the end of the first period carried on to the second period. They weren’t aggressive “Is laziness playing simple was laziness we came out fouling reaching doing the things we not supposed to do and put our self in bad predicaments and it showed tonight,” Stratton said.

That’s one of the reason that cost the Knights the game  and the referee’s controversial call that blew the Knights there 3 straight win of the season. At the buzzer the referee called a foul on Mehmet Asik of Ankira, Turkey with the Knights up 66-64.

Coach Stratton motivating his player’s during the final three minutes of the second period. Photo by Jose Rodriguez, Sports Editor

Ethan May of Great Bay Community College needed to make at least two of the three free throw to guaranteed an overtime and if they made all three in the Knights lost.  He made the first two in then Coach Stratton called a time out with the game tied at 66 with one shot remaining. For May this would determine if the game went to overtime, or the Knights were going to lose and the game went to overtime as May missed the last free throw.

The game went to overtime tied at 66. It was a classic game at the Sports and Fitness Center but only one can become victories.

In overtime it is five minutes opposed to the regular 20 minutes for each period on the first and in the second period. Both teams scored 5 points  which tied at 71 heading to the second overtime.

That’s when Great Bay exploded in the second overtime. They outscored the Knights 12-1 and it was enough to defeat the Knights 83 to 72.

Coach Stratton post game commented on the controversial call to send the game to overtime at the end of the second period. “I think it was a controversial call but I am not going to blame an official because it was a judgement call. They get paid to do you know basically to rule judgement. I haven’t look at the film I’m not going to blame the official because that was one position… so in a game there so many possessions,  that game shouldn’t come down to that call.  Basically we should’ve won in many possessions during the game that it didn’t get us to that point..”

We also learned that Philip Cunningham of Haverhill didn’t play tonight. He is out with an injury but he was on bench without his uniform on and Christian Kinsely of Lawrence he is sick.

Knights dealing with injuries face tough lost at home

On Veterans Day, Thursday Nov.11, the NECC Knights faced Southern Maine Community College.

They didn’t have a big crowd in hand like the past two home games, Ninety-nine people were in attendance to watch the game at the Sports and Fitness Center.

Before the game I had a chance to talk with the head coach to give me an injury update.

This team is currently dealing with several players who are injured early on in the season.

” I want to say probably couple of weeks away Matt (D’Amoto) comeback he has a high ankle sprain that he is receiving treatment for. Jaleek (Urena) he has a groin injury that has been hampering him right after the first game so we basically shut him down until November 20 and then we test him out. Matt will live in week by week I imagine his  2 to 3 weeks out… and we dealing a issue with Mehmet (Asik)… he has been battling with an illness,…” Stratton said.

The first half Southern Maine were leading 34-22 at the half.

Knights in action against Southern Maine Community College on Veterans Day. Photo by Jose Rodriguez, Sports Editor

Overall, the Knights did not have a good game at all and could not keep up the momentum from their last game. Overall, the Knights were shooting 18.8% from the three-point line and a 41.9% from the free throw line. They were outscored.

Southern Maine was taking advantage of the chances that the Knights did not capitalize on and they made them pay for it.

The second half, that is when the game got out of hand, and they were no shot for the Knights to come back. Southern Main outscored them 56-36 in the second half. It was enough to defeat the Knights 90 to 54.

As a result, the Knights suffered their first loss of the season at home during the 2021-2022 season. During the post-game the assistant head coach Joe told me it was going to be hard for me to get an interview with the coach but I can try. Another of his assistant head coach was trying to get a few players for me and it didn’t work out.

The team was frustrated, and I understand why. They lost by 36 points on their home court.

Immediately after Coach Stratton talked to his players in the locker room he went to his office and checked his email.

None of the players wanted to talk to me.

The Knights will go on the road to play against Eastern Nazarene JV on Nov. 17 at 7 PM and on Nov. 20 it will be the second division conference game of the season. They will host University of Connecticut at Avery Point. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 PM.

Knights win their first conference game of the season


 On Nov. 9 NECC Knights face off against Quinsigamond Community College in the Sports and Fitness Center. 

This was the Knights first conference game of the season. A big crowd was in hand just like on opening night this time 121 people were in attendance.  

This was the Knights first conference game of the year. NECC basketball head coach Darren Stratton mention to me “I think every conference game is important. With first conference game you want to go out, you obvious you want to grab it…”  Stratton said. If the Knights wants-to go far this season and have a chance for competing for a championship those are the team they need to beat. 

 They were 1-2 in the season entering tonight a chance to go back at .500.   

 The Knights begin the first period in total domination. They begin the first seven minutes of the first period with a 30-6 run. 

The Knights also had 6 fouls in that first period while Quinsigamond had 8. They were leading 34-22 at the half.  

NECC Knights in action vs Quinsigamond Community College Nov 9 Sports Editor, Jose Rodriguez

The last 13 minutes in the period they did not play intense like they did they were outscored 16 to 4. One of the reasons is probably because Matt D’Amotto injury it took the team out of rhythm a little.  

In the post-game interview coach Darren Stratton mentioned to me “I think is to early to determine but as you saw they put in a air cast right away so I think his injury it’s going to be pretty significant for us moving forward… he is another key lost to key member of our rotation that we been using,” Stratton said.  

The second period the Knights had 7 fouls while Quinsigamond had 4. The Knights had less foul than they had in opening night.  

The Knights would not win this game if it were not for the performance that Elijah Haas of Haverhill had. Haas  scored 23 points in 20 minutes a career high in point. It was enough to defeat Quinsigamond 85-57. The knights also had 41 rebounds and 20 assist during the game.  

He mentioned to me “I think it was energy honestly the bench had it energy.” The rhythm and the energy for Elijah and his teammates really brought their game. As the Knights was in control command and never blow a lead during the game.  

The Knights really need someone to step up big and have that big enough lead to start the game so the team could go into rhythm and be positive that they could really win this.  

I ask Matt Logue of Windham, N.H.,  how important was getting a win against a conference team.

“Really important we got to get as many division wins as we can and try to win a division championship,” said Logue. 

 Every team have that same mind and same mentality. The first goal is to win a division champion and the second goal is to win the championship one step out time. 


Aaaaaand we’re BACK!

During the coronavirus pandemic, Observer staff had to figure out a new way to deliver the news. Enter WordPress. Was I familiar with WordPress? I had heard of it, but I had never seen or used it. This was fine though, because since students, i.e., the Observer student staff, were not allowed on campus, it meant we did not have access to the servers which would allow us to post to the Observer website.  

Mary Jo Shafer, our fearless advisor, took on the task of uploading stories written and/or edited by staff and correspondents. The Observer went on like this until the fall of 2021.  

Now that we are able to be back in the newsroom, all four, maybe five of us including our advisor, have all learned to post to our website for ourselves. I was very excited to use WordPress and the magic that is posting instantaneously online. It’s more than just a social media post; it takes more work than a simple tweet. As a writer, a journalist, to see your work and thoughts come to life on paper or in this case, on a screen, is the ultimate reward.  

Now here we are. It’s October 26. We are working on a 24-page print edition.  

“What is “print”? What is InDesign? I have to use THIS Mac again?” 

Here I am on THIS Mac. Working with no end in sight, or so it seems. Everyone else has gone home. It’s just Mary Jo and me.  

My first print edition as editor-in-chief. I agreed to a 24-page special addition. I agreed to write an editorial. It feels like I am relearning all the things and adding in some new things too (thanks Shaun!). It is slowly but surely all coming back to me. All coming together.  

During the height of the pandemic, because we are still in it, I had doubts, as I am sure many of you did. But being back here, on campus, in the newsroom, it all feels right. It is reassuring to feel at home. I hope that everyone else feels this way when they are here at NECC. I wish I could stay forever- it’s like when I was a Brownie in the Girl Scouts and didn’t want to leave so the troop leaders let me stay an extra year. But for now, I will continue to soak in everything I can, and say yes to every challenge.  

In the word of Ms. Frizzle, this is the place to, “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” 

I think we can do this again. And we will! The Observer will release another 24-page special edition on December 2. Stay tuned! 

Ms. Frizzle and Liz on another class adventure. Courtesy Photo

A year of celebration

One of the new signs at the Haverhill campus commemorating its 50th year at the current location. Photo by Melissa Bouse

Northern Essex Community College is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It is also the 50th anniversary of the Haverhill Campus and the 30th anniversary of the Dimitry Buidling in Lawrence. 

NECC has come a long way from its first years at Greenleaf Elementary School in Bradford which was repurposed to accommodate its first graduating class of 181college students. The 142 men and 39 women, ages 18-19 were taught by five full-time faculty and eight part-time faculty. 

Students chose from six associate degrees: Liberal Arts, General Liberal Arts, Business Management, Accounting, Secretarial, and Electronics Technology. 

Today NECC consists of a sprawling rural campus in Haverhill as well as an urban campus in Lawrence. 

In the fall of 2020, the student body consisted of 4,715 students, of which 69% were studying part-time, 65% were female, 42% were Hispanic, and 30% were over the age of 25.  

Students are now taught by 79 full-time faculty and 261 part-time faculty and have over 60 majors to choose from.  

Over the last six decades NECC, colloquially known as NECCO, has strived to evolve with its students and the various local communities it serves.  

A notable way in which NECC has grown is by being one of the 19 colleges and universities participating in the statewide Massachusetts Early College Initiative. The college has designated programs with Haverhill High School, Lawrence High School, and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and partners with 25 other local high schools.  

In the fall of 2020, there were 548 students enrolled in Early College Programs, a 37% increase over the fall of 2019 when 398 students were enrolled.  

Police recruits on campus. Photo courtesy of NECC Newsroom

The college is home to one of the most successful police academies in Massachusetts. Since its inception in January 2015, over 500 recruits have graduated from the academy, serving more than 58 municipal police departments, eight colleges and universities, the Massachusetts Port Authority, and the Somerville Housing Authority.  

NECC also provides space for the Essex County Sheriff’s Training Academy for corrections officers and runs the educational programming for Essex County inmates, through a partnership with the sheriff’s department. 

Aerial view of the El-Hefni Building in downtown Lawrence. Photo courtesy of NECC Newsroom

The El-Hefni Building in Lawrence houses the 22 health programs at NECC, in which a third of students are enrolled. The health programs include high demand fields such as nursing, respiratory care, sleep technology and more.  

NECC news articles and program from 1968. Photo courtesy of NECC archives

The Nursing program recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was the first health program offered by the college and started in the fall of 1968. 

The college recently purchased three new manikin simulators and replaced the aging dental assistant lab, thanks to a $400,000 state grant.  

To better serve its wide range of students, NECC launched an evening option for the dental assisting program in the spring and is working on offering a new series of micro-credentials for current health care workers in areas such as advanced cardiac life support, pediatric advanced life support, and more.

The new Lupoli Family Culinary Arts Institute occupies two floors in The Heights in downtown Haverhill, a new 10-story luxury building, opened in fall of 2020. With sweeping views of the Merrimack River, the space features classrooms, laboratories, and state-of-the-art kitchens.

The Heights Building in downtown Haverill houses the new Lupoli Family Culinary Art Institute. Photo courtesy of NECC Newsroom

The institute is home to the college’s 29-credit Culinary Arts Certificate and 63-credit Associate Degree in Hospitality Management.  

Noncredit culinary courses are offered to the community through the Center for Corporate & Community Education.  

NECC holds closing the equity gap in higher education as a number one priority.  

The college is known for its student services, which support students at every step of their education, with academic and career advising, financial assistance, tutoring, leadership, and more.  

With a student population that is 42% Hispanic, NECC continues to make serving students of color a priority, developing best practices for helping these and other populations that are under-represented in higher education to be successful.  

In 2001, NECC was the first college in New England to be designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, based on the number of Hispanic students served.  

The college’s academic and student affairs areas recently restructured to better serve students. There are now five academic centers, organized by major, where students can meet with faculty and academic and career advisors, access tutoring, register for classes, attend presentations, and meet informally with other students who share similar interests. 

NECC now runs the MassHire Merrimack Valley Career Centers in Haverhill and Lawrence, which offer employment and training services for job seekers and employers.  

In the fall, in partnership with three Fortune 500 employers, NECC launched new micro credential programs, short-term noncredit programs that will lead to immediate jobs with good salaries.  

The first two programs will be in sales and customer service and business analytics, both of which have been identified by employers as areas of great need, where the training can be short term.  

Most recently, NECC is collaborating with the YWCA of the North Shore to jointly build a facility on the Haverhill Campus and with Whittier Regional Vocational Technical School to have a permanent home on our Haverhill Campus. 

Dean of Liberal Arts Amy Callahan has been with NECC for over 21 years. She has pushed for a revitalization of the Liberal Art department for several years as part of the faculty and now as Dean. She planted the seed to hold an outdoor showing of “tiny beautiful things” at the Haverhill campus.  

“Everyone is going to love it!” She recounted telling Director of Public Relations Ernie Greenslade. 

Callahan says that NECC has affected her in many ways over the years but that she “has become a much better educator by paying attention to her students.” She hopes to continue expanding the Liberal Arts department by adding various internships and catering to the needs of students and the community. 

Greenslade, who is a Lawrence native and has worked at NECC for 33 years says, “The most exciting part of my job is interacting with students. I’m so inspired by students’ stories.” 

NECC wants to hear from you. A social media campaign is currently running in celebration of the milestone. Use #NECC60 on social media posts regarding NECC and the anniversary.  

A mosaic is also in the works in honor of the anniversary. Photos and messages can be sent to All submissions are eligible to be included in all anniversary coverage. 

Knights Basketball win their home opener

On Wednesday November 3, 2021 the NECC Knights men’s basketball team had their home opener against UMaine- Augusta.

The players were practicing their shot before the game. I was there a hour early before tip off and both teams were already practicing. Even though this was their first game of the season it was big they were trying to do something that the 2017-2018 men’s basketball team accomplished, that was winning a game on opening night. 

Before the game I talked with the head coach, Darren Stratton and he told me that it is going to be a test. “With Umaine-Agusta there one of the top team out of there conference which they are a four-year school where they have junior, seniors that been playing together for a long time where we have a lot of freshmen so I think tonight is a good test…” Stratton said.

The first game of the season is going to be where this team is really at and how the Knights perform in the first game of the season it is going to determine how well they work together competing against other teams.

 He also mentioned “I expect a lot nerve I think I have a lot kids playing their first game first collegiate game… we have to fight through but as the game goes on I expect us to perform well tonight.” 

Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez, interviewing NECC basketball head coach.
Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez, interviewing NECC basketball head coach. Photo by Bryan Thomas

They had a big crowd watching and 115 people were in attended. NECC Athletic Director Dan Blair was announcing the starting lineup for both teams and then the national anthem.   

In the first period the Knights started the game strong they begin the game with a 12-0 run. They were leading 42-15 at the half. 

I had a chance to talk with coach Stratton after the game he told me “I think we played and we feed of our emotions and it carry us in our defense intensity the first half I feel that we had a lot of mistakes we made for it with our energy…” Stratton said.  Although the Knights had that big lead in the first period, they also had seven fouls against UMaine-Agusta.  

In the second period, which was the last period of the game they started slow and UMaine Augusta was taking advantage of the opportunities that the Knights didn’t capitalize. They outscored the Knights 51-36 in the second half. UMaine-Augusta came aggressive.

They had a different game plan in the second half to control the Knights. At one point in the game, it seems like UMaine-Agusta was going to take over the lead, but the Knights never gave up the lead thanks to a 12-0 run to begin the game back in the first period they had the lead for the entire game.

In the entire game overall, they had 17 fouls — seven in the first period and 10 in the second half. Some of the fouls that happened in the second period should not happened. They got sloppy and got lazy in the beginning of the period but as the second half progresses they got a little bit better.

  They also had 27 turnovers. They need to improve on the turnovers because if they don’t and they lose by a close game that’s going to be the reason why. It was just the first game of the season but as the season continues, I expected them to get better on the turnover and be a little more aggressive as they were in the first period.  

 According to, Philip Cunningham of Haverhill who played 28 minutes during the game he had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steal and 4 assist to begin the 2021-2022 campaign. 

How important was having fans for the first time in two years since last year they weren’t fan in attended because of COVID?

“It felt pretty good after COVID I know a lot of people were struggling I know we had a lot of time in the gym, so we put on the work and we had good result,” Cunningham said.

Allowing fans back in the arena it gives fan excitement to cheer on their team and on top of that it helps fans to forget the hard time that happen with the virus as little by little everything is going to go back on the normality. He also mentioned “This is a big win this is a young team I’m probably youngest so it probably a big win for my first college game.” 

Most player’s on the team are new comers so this season there are a lot of new faces for the Knights basketball team.  That they are expected to perform well and every time they are in the court they are expected to win.  He was the star of the game leading on points, rebound and assist during the game.  

According to, Metin Yavuz of Istanbul, Turkey who played 19 minutes to begin the 2021-2022 campaign with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steal and 0 assist.

I asked him about the second half “In the second half we couldn’t came up like what we wanted to as a team we could’ve done a better job but at the end we manage to win and that was the important thing…” Yavuz mentioned. Even though the second half it wasn’t productive like they wanted to but it was enough to get the win.   

Faculty to debate nuclear weapons treaty

Poster with mushroom cloud advertising faculty debate about nuclear weapons

Professor Stephen Slaner will debate Professor Andrew Morse on the new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 12:30 p.m. The professors will examine the topic of whether the United States should ratify the treaty. The debate will be moderated by SDS Vice President Andrew Venditti.

The debate will be held via zoom: Password: 654936