It was Team Orange vs. Team Black as the Fort Lee Girls Recreation Basketball League held its first All-Star Game in all three divisions Monday evening at the Lewis F. Cole Middle School. Athletes in each division were drafted by their Rec league coaches to put them on either Team Orange or Team Black.
Team Black coaches for the third and fourth grade were Shawn Arnone, Howard Pearl, and David Sarnoff. Team Orange coaches were David Samson, Kevin McKelvy, and Danny Ojeda.
League President Mike Klein announced the introduction of players before the tip-off brought enthusiasm and excitement to the packed house.
Team Orange jumped out to a 4–1 lead with Priscilla Samson scoring the first 2 baskets. Frankie Arnone got Black on the scoreboard by sinking two free throws. Mary Grace Sicheri scored 6 points in the second half to cap off a Team Black comeback and gain a victory of a final score of 10–7.
“It was great to see the high level of play with these young girls, most who have never played basketball before, not to mention, the 24 ear-to-ear smiles running up and down the court!” Klein said.
The second game of the event gave the fifth and sixth grade All-Stars a chance to show off their skills.
“It was impressive to see such a good defensive game," said Klein.
Team Black was coached by Rey “Drive By” Diaz and Bruno Esposito. Team Orange was coached by Ralph Diaz and Gerry Glass. Team Orange took a big lead in the third quarter when Kailyn Fernandez scored all five of her points. Once Team Black was able to full-court press, good defensive efforts were made by Natalie Elmers, Samantha Silver, Chloe Diaz, and Lily Schulman who created turnovers and passed the ball to Athena Sinisi and Sofia Esposito for back-to-back baskets with under a minute to go in the game. Orange hung onto a 12–7 victory.
In the Marquee matchup of the evening, the seventh and eighth grade girls were pumped right from the player introductions. Team Black was coached by Billy Broderick, Frank McKenna, and Greg Yee. Mario Mattessich, Emma Diaz, and Eddie Aversa coached Team Orange. Kami Mattessich started out the game by hitting a three-point shot in favor of Team Orange. Nicole Maldonado and Jamie Rosa, both of Team Black, counteracted with back-to-back baskets with the assist coming from Jackie McKenna. Kami Mattessich retaliated with another three-pointer and a basket by Leslie Pimentel brought the score to 8–4 in favor of Orange in the first quarter.
The excitement continued with Team Black mounting a comeback to take a 15–10 halftime lead. In the second half, Team Black stepped up the defense behind Sarah Diaz, Gianna Nitti, Tomma DiMeglio, and Nicole Gaito. Faith Diaz kept Orange in the game with five fourth quarter points. Final score: Team Black 26, Team Orange: 22.
Klein commented, “In my opinion, all 24 girls that I watched play tonight at this level, have excellent chances at playing in high school. The highlight of the evening was the group hug of all 24 girls at the end of the game. There were no losers, only winners and friends.”