MELROSE HIGH was well represented by players, partners and the MHS cheer squad at the 2nd annual Hoop-a-Palooza held at Galvin Middle School in Wakefield on May 25. Oh, and some professional mascots if you can make them out! (Jennifer Gentile photo)

 


Over 100 athletes enjoyed fun-filled day

 

By JENNIFER GENTILE

WAKEFIELD—If Pat Patriot and Wally the Green Monster are cheering you one, you know the action is good.

It was a perfect sunlit day for quality hoop action at the second annual Unified Basketball “Hoop-a-Palooza2” tournament held at the Galvin Middle School in Wakefield on May 25, 2022. Wakefield—gracious hosts—opened up their two outdoor courts for jamboree play and offered pizza slush and music for all attendees. Over 125 Unified partners and athletes from eight different local teams, including Melrose, Malden, Bedford, Lexington, Stoneham, Belmont, Burlington and Watertown, competed for an afternoon jamboree featuring some of the states’ best Unified athletes.

Melrose High senior Unified players particularly relished the opportunity to battle the best in the Middlesex League. They included Kevin Burke, Nick Cram, Claire Morse, Ben Donovan and Harry Jaggers. Another, James “The President” Kavanaugh, had some serious pre-game plans. “We’re ready to play, it’s going to be awesome,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day.” When asked how many points he predicted he’d make he noted, “I’m going to go for three’s. We’re going to play as a team to beat everyone.” He also had someone close in his mind. “This game goes out to my friend Grace Zinck.” Zinck, a former Unified player for Melrose High, passed away at the early age of 17 in 2021.

 

JAMES “The President” Kavanaugh was ready for action at the start of the 2nd annual Hoop-a-Palooza held on May 25 at Galvin Middle School in Wakefield. (Jennifer Gentile photo)

 

New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot and Wally the Green Monster got fans and players fired up and all 8 teams had the support of Wakefield and Melrose cheerleaders who formed a tunnel for introductions. The enthusiasm and competitive spirit was infectious. After Emily Athanasiadis of Lexington performed the National Anthem, competitive play began and Melrose opened against Bedford. It was a game that saw strong efforts from under the net from James Donovan, Kevin Burke and Nick Cram and at the three line, sure enough, some shots by James Kavanaugh.

Melrose High competes in Unified Basketball in both the fall and spring MIAA sport seasons, which makes them one of the more competitive Unified hoop squads in Massachusetts. And on Thursday, Hoop-a-Palooza marked the culmination of a fantastic spring season. See you next fall!