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Brookline’s Tucker Halpern makes inspiring comeback on court at Brown

Tucker Halpern netted a three in the final seconds to lift Brown to an upset win.
Tucker Halpern netted a three in the final seconds to lift Brown to an upset win.Credit: David Silverman

Brookline’s Halpern savors his rebound

Tucker Halpern calls his acrobatic 3-pointer with 7.3 seconds remaining against Providence, lifting Brown University to a stunning 69-68 upset win last month, the biggest shot of his basketball life.

However, the junior forward from Brookline said, it was also a reminder of how much he loves the game that slipped out of his grasp for a while.

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“I just sat in our locker room feeling overwhelmed after everything I had been through,” said Halpern, an All-Ivy League honorable mention as a sophomore who left school last season because of a debilitating illness. “It really didn’t set in for a few days. I really needed a game like that because I appreciate even more what basketball has meant to me, and I will never take it for granted.’ ’’

There were moments, said the former Noble & Greenough School star, when he would lay in bed at home too weak to move, and unsure whether he would recover, that it was difficult to watch basketball on TV.

“It was very emotional. I had trouble handling it at times. I was confined to bed on and off for almost nine months,’’ starting in October 2011. “It was scary,’’ said the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Halpern, who has played in 11 of Brown’s 14 games this season, averaging 29 minutes, 11.2 points, 1.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds.

“Thankfully I found a doctor at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, Scott Hammer, who diagnosed my chronic fatigue as the Epstein-Barr virus, and the medication I took either helped jump-start my immune system or made the virus dormant. I was very lucky.’’

Lucky, but hardly in top shape.

A series of setbacks, including stomach problems related to his high doses of antiviral medication, kept Halpern off the practice court until after the season opener in November. He took the team’s mandatory conditioning test seven times before passing.

“At my first practice I was very excited because I didn’t know that day would ever come,’’ he recalled. “But I was also frustrated because the last time I had played, in a summer league before my sophomore year, I was in the best shape of my life, and I was long way from where I used to be.’’

Brown coach Mike Martin  said Halpern’s renewed enthusiasm for the game has inspired his teammates.

“He’s not where he wants to be,’’ said Martin, whose team is 6-8 overall, “but when we talk, it’s not about what Tucker was, but where we both want him to be.’’

With Brown’s opening Ivy League game against visiting Pennsylvania on Saturday, Halpern said he’s steadily regaining his timing and his stamina, and that he’s exceeded his doctor’s expectations.

“I’ve been inconsistent by my standards,’’ he said, “but I always set high goals for myself.’’

The support of his parents, John  and K.C., his siblings, Ian and Lily, and significant other, former Brown women’s soccer player Kate Scott of Medway, have helped him through his ordeal, Halpern said.

For his clutch performance against Providence, a game in which he hit two 3-pointers in the last 68 seconds en route to a 28-point outing, Halpern was named the Ivy League’s Player of the Week on Dec. 31.

He was a point shy of his career best for a game, and a 3-pointer away from tying Brown’s single-game record.

“Unbelievable,” Halpern said.

“We were down seven late in the game. My mom and sister watched it on national TV, and my brother and dad were in the stands. I had to catch the pass, which was high, stay inbounds and up-fake my defender. The shot was all net.

“I’ve hit some game winners in the past, including a last-second game winner for Nobles, but never on such a big stage,’’ said Halpern. “Not knowing if I would ever get that opportunity again made it even sweeter.’’

Colonial ice skaters prepare for nationals

The Colonial Figure Skating Club, based at the Nashoba Valley Olympia rink in Boxborough, will be represented by several local competitors at the US Nationals in Omaha. The event, which opens Sunday and runs through Jan. 27, is crucial in determining world championship and Olympic team selections.

The hopefuls include New England Regional senior champion Wesley Campbell  of Acton; Ryan VanDoren  of Westborough, a New England Regional silver medalist in the juvenile boys’ age division; Toby Evett  of Concord, who will skate with partner Nathaniel Dennier  of Lunenburg (juvenile pairs); and partners Jade Esposito  of Weston and Nathan Rensing  of Sterling, second-place finishers at the Eastern sectionals in juvenile pairs.

Brosseau takes reins at Framingham State

Liz Brosseau, who starred at Franklin High and graduated from Springfield College in 2009 after earning four varsity letters on the basketball court, has made a rather seamless transition as the interim women’s coach at Framingham State University.

The Rams were 8-5 overall and 1-2 in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference prior to Tuesday’s conference game against Salem State. Brosseau, an assistant at Framingham State the last two seasons, stepped in as coach after Patricia O’Brien accepted a position as assistant athletic director at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Brosseau got her start as the junior varsity girls’ coach and assistant varsity coach for the 2009-10 season at Medway High.

Here and there

Former Arlington High three-sport athlete Brianna Cronin  has been named head women’s lacrosse coach at Franklin Pierce University. Cronin, who also coached girls’ lacrosse at Arlington High, was a starting midfielder and two-year team captain at Johns Hopkins University. . . . Hamilton College junior hockey player Dom Jancaterino  of Needham (St. Sebastian’s School) netted the tying goal with 6.4 seconds to play last Friday to give the Continentals a 2-2 tie against Connecticut College, and added an empty netter the next day to cap a 3-1 win against Tufts. A transfer from Division 1 Sacred Heart University, Jancaterino was tied for the team lead with 6 goals through 13 games.

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