Tempesta Inspires Town with Terrific Performance

Senior leadership is the key for Rebel success in the State Tournament.

Senior leadership is the key for Rebel success in the State Tournament.

James Cullinane

Senior leadership is the key for Rebel success in the State Tournament.
Senior leadership is the key for Rebel success in the State Tournament.


Walpole lost a great man on February 7, 2011 with the passing of the beloved Thomas “Goumba” Tempesta at the age of 61.  A veteran of the Vietnam War and the father of two boys, Mr. Tempesta had a tremendous impact on the lives of many and will be truly missed.  

Carrying on the memory of Mr. Tempesta is his youngest son Mike, a senior Captain for the Walpole Rebels Boys Basketball Team.  In one of the most emotional moments ever witnessed in Walpole sports, Tempesta walked off the court with 1:34 remaining in the fourth quarter of a match up with the Norwood Mustangs on Senior Night to the sound of deafening applause after delivering the best performance of his varsity basketball career.  

After the presentation of flowers to his mother Kathy Tempesta and older brother Thomas Tempesta, a heartfelt applause echoed throughout the packed Walpole High School gymnasium.  While Mike graciously accepted the condolences of both Norwood and Walpole fans alike, it was all business for the Rebels by the opening tip.  

Tempesta scored the Rebels first bucket following the tip off, dropping a three on the Rebels second possession.  Over the course of the game, Tempesta would deliver an astounding eight three point field goals, while running the Rebel offense to perfection.  The atmosphere in Walpole’s gymnasium was unparalleled after Tempesta buried his second three pointer to put the Rebels on top by a score of 12-8.  By the end of the first quarter, the Rebels would lead 15-11 over their bitter Herget rivals.  

The second quarter would be the same song, different verse for the Rebel offensive attack, with Tempesta perfectly executing the Rebel inside-out offense and hitting two more three pointers.  Sophomore guard Johnny Adams also stood out on both ends, diving on loose balls and shooting a good percentage from the field.  By the end of the first half, Tempesta had already eclipsed his season average with 13 points, including four buckets from behind the arch.  

Despite halftime adjustments by Norwood Head Coach Rich Cormier, the Rebel offense could not be controlled.  Only minutes into the second half, Tempesta delivered another long range three to put the Rebels ahead by a score of 34-23.  On the next Rebel possession, the red hot Tempesta pulled up on the break and swished yet another three pointer, his sixth of the game.  The Rebels used this moment to hold off the Mustangs, who refused to go down without a fight behind the shooting of senior Captain Sean O’Neill.  Following an O’Neill jumper, senior Rebel center Dan McGovern pulled down an offensive board on an Adams miss and spotted Tempesta all alone on the perimeter.  Tempesta resisted the temptation of another three point field goal, up-faking a Norwood defender and fighting his way to the rack for two.  As the third quarter came to a close, the Rebels held a nine point lead over the persistent Mustangs.  

Tempesta effectively put the game to rest in the early goings of the fourth quarter, burying threes on two consecutive Rebel possessions to put the Rebels ahead by a score of 49-36.  Later in the quarter, Tempesta would electrify the packed Rebel gym with his speed on the fast break.  After intercepting a pass intended for Norwood’s Daron English, Tempesta burned the Mustang defense from coast to coast for an easy lay up.  On the next Rebel possession, Tempesta teamed up with fellow senior Captain Tim Gallivan for a back door alley-oop, a feat seen sparingly in high school basketball, especially in Walpole.  This play sent Walpole’s student section into an electrifying tizzy, drowning out all other noise in the gym.  

Not long after Gallivan’s emphatic slam dunk, he, along with Tempesta was given a breather, with the game well in hand.  The moment in which Tempesta was greeted with the seemingly never ending applause of the Rebel crowd, while being embraced by Head Coach Dave St. Martin, was a truly inspiring experience for fans and players alike.  The Mustangs proved classy and respectful, most of whom stopped to individually show their respects to Tempesta and his family.  

Tempesta finished the game with an astounding 31 points and 4 assists, overcoming an unparalleled amount of adversary. “Being Senior Night, the game was emotional from start to finish”, Tempesta said in a post game interview.  When asked how he overcame these emotions and bringing the best performance of his varsity career, Tempesta said, “My teammates had a huge impact on my game. It seemed like I was just always open and I kept putting up my shot and thankfully, it kept falling for me.  I really couldn’t help but think that I might have had some help from my father.”  

Speaking louder than any of Tempesta’s statistics are his leadership qualities.  Junior forward Tom Donnellan expressed his admiration for Tempesta after this victory over their bitter rivals, “Mike is a ‘lead by example’ kind of Captain, and that’s something I respect.  He doesn’t have to scream and yell, he does his leading on the court.”  

The Rebels will follow their Captain and their new found momentum into the tournament in search of a State Championship.