The eighth annual PYA basketball season for fifth, sixth and seventh grade girls came to an exciting close on Friday, March 11, wrapping up PYA's version of "March Madness." More than 115 girls enrolled in the program this year to make it a record season for participation. Throughout the 10-week season, the girls practiced various technical aspects of the game and then masterfully demonstrated their skills during game play.
The fifth grade playoff series was a culmination of hard work and lots of fun. The Blue team, coached by Andy Oelbaum, Mary Ann Gennusa and John Neil, played hard in the quarter-finals. Katie Morovich, Amy Rimmer and Kristen Neil showed their finesse at rebounding. Chrissy Commons, Emily Tierney and Katie Gennusa sunk needed baskets. Jessica Boyd, Carly DiMaggio and Madeline Vigilis provided great defense. The Purple team, under the leadership of Rob Seiden and Sandy Nelson, also played very well in the series. Emily Rosenthal, Morgan Nelson and Margaret Cherubino were tough on offense. Brittany Nachamie, Melissa Naschek and Fallon Seiden helped to keep the ball moving down the court. Emma Wall, Taylor Hirshfeld and Nicole Zweiner were terrific at rebounding the ball. The Green team, under the guidance of Coach Todd Sloan, showed incredible spirit. Ricki Sloan, Ariana Spagna and Madeline Lamberti consistently took the ball to the hoop and scored. Grace Weinstock and Danie Santodonato played tenacious defense. Kirsten Peterson and Carly Hitzig set effective picks to open up the court. Both semi-final games went into exhilirating overtime play.
The fifth grade girls' championship game was an exciting match-up between the Yellow team and the Pink team. The Pink team, led by Coaches Phil Rybecky and Doug Cornell showed amazing versatility. Juliana Beall, Katie Cunningham, Amanda Keltz and Brittney Cummins all took advantage of their scoring opportunities. Liz Rybecky and Katy Cornell found the openings and were able to effectively set up plays. Bethia Kwak, Elyse Belarge and Sam Cohen played outstanding defense and displayed excellent rebounding skills.
The Yellow team, coached by Ron Zdrojeski and Jim Kerr, possessed unrelenting stamina. Their 28 to 18 win over the Pink team was achieved through an all around team effort. Hayley Kerr, Kim Tresso, Jesse Quinn, and Amanda Edwards all contributed to the scoring. Katya Barrett, Doriana Hyman and Annie Waskover were tough on the boards. Jenny Zrodjeski and Molly Kluger demonstrated their capable ball handling in moving the ball up the court. Jamie Zeidman, sidelined with an injury, came out to cheer her team on.
The sixth and seventh grade girls' series was equally exciting. The Dark Blue team led by Coaches John Mezzetta and Kirk Baugher played with tenacity and spirit. Jillian Mezzetta, Danielle Commons, and Claire Baugher effectively drove to the basket and scored. Julie McManus and Rebecca Simoni were able to slip in and finish resulting in more points. Valentina Santos, Rebecca Kaplan and Julia Kaplan confused the offense with their definitive picks thereby creating scoring opportunities. The Light Blue team coached by Marc Schneider and Artie Leibowitz also played with passion on the court. Scoring was led by Jessie Podlofsky, Samantha Schneider, Danielle Leibowitz, and Sarah Lee. Aimee Stern and Sarah Shlafmitz dribbled the ball with ease. Julia Marsigliano, Rachel Rozeen and Allie Lifton moved the defenders creating open spaces for the drives. The coaching trio of Herb Reichenbach, Pat Foye and Jim Sheridan brought the Green team to new levels of excellence on the court in a quarterfinal game that went into overtime. Scoring was evenly spread among the talented Maggie Sheridan, Jenna Reichenbach, Vicky Trejo, Heather Foye, Cori Nelson and Maria Gardella. Julianne Ressa also contributed to the team effort during regular season play. The Yellow team, under the leadership of Coaches Michael Nierenberg and Bill Scaglione, demonstrated improving offensive and defensive skills. Paige Kriftcher and Carly Cindrich took the ball to the basket many times. Ali Nierenberg, Alana Santodonato and Sam Kaplan made key free throws. Jackie Gabrielli, Athena Papaporfiriou and Ashley Scaglione effectively rebounded and consistently assisted in the play. Coach David Horowitz's Pink team also put in an outstanding effort. Sam Palmer, Jamie Koopersmith and Caroline Millo all contributed to the baskets scored. Emma Horowitz drove the ball to the hoop many times over and converted. Joey Murphy made key free throws and buckets. Meghan Byrnes, Payal Doshi, Lauren Goldstein and Rachel Lazar followed through with the offensive plays and set remarkable screens.
The final game for the sixth and seventh grade girls provided an emphatic finish to the season. End to end action saw the Gray team led by John Zack, Howie Bluver and Dan Weil, play with urgency. Sara Giraldo and Kaia deBruin effortlessly rolled away from picks to keep the momentum going. Jillian Zack and Sarah Bluver maneuvered around the court in an unfettered fashion. Katie Weil and Kelly Certuche scored again and again to keep their team in the game. Coach Tom Fisher's Purple team ultimately came out victorious in the final game with a score of 43 to 27. Coach Fisher's daughter, Taryn, and Sydney DiMaggio assisted in coordinating the plays for the team during the season. Kelly Shon and Rachel Strongin led the team in scoring. Maddy Fisher, Alex Fernandez, Sarah Greene, and Sam Milhaven also contributed with their smooth passing and ability to capitalize on scoring opportunities. Danielle Zuckerman and Alison Ehrlich played strong defense to frustrate the opposing team. The game was riveting!
We will miss the following seventh grade girls who have graduated from the PYA program: Claire Baugher, Meghan Byrnes, Kelly Certuche, Carly Cindrich, Danielle Commons, Danielle Cunha, Alex Fernandez, Maddy Fisher, Heather Foye, Maria Gardella, Emma Horowitz, Sarah Lee, Danielle Leibowitz, Ali Lifton, Samantha Kaplan, Olivia Marxuach, Jillian Mezzetta, Caroline Millo, Joanna Murphy, Ali Nierenberg, Jenna Reichenbach, Jessie Podlofsky, Valentina Santos, Sam Schneider, Maggie Sheridan, Kelly Shon, Rachel Strongin and Katie Weil. We wish you girls the best of luck for the future. As for the present fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls, we will see you on the court next year! Thank you to all of the coaches. Without your help and participation, the program would not be possible. Finally, a heartfelt expression of appreciation must be extended to Kevin Dermody, commissioner of the girls' basketball program. Kevin's ceaseless dedication and commitment has once again ensured a quality program that is unparalleled elsewhere. Thank you Kevin!