JILLIAN MCCUE and Greyson Leno helped kick off the Hoop-a-Palooza 3 event at the outdoor courts at the Galvin Middle School in Wakefield last week. (photo by Raj Das, edphotos.com)


WAKEFIELD—The Middlesex League Hoopapalooza 3 took place on Wednesday, May 24 at the Galvin Middle School in Wakefield.

Despite threatening skies, a dozen school communities came together in this athletic extravaganza. Bedford, Burlington, Lexington, Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Watertown, Wilmington, Winchester and Woburn all showcased their finest students in this one of a kind third annual event.

Unified Basketball combines students with and without intellectual disabilities for training and competition. Students with intellectual disabilities are classified as special olympic athletes, students without disabilities are classified as unified partners.


MELROSE HIGH’s James Kavanaugh sang a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner prior to the games. He is pictured with coach Matt Manfredi. (photo by Raj Das, edphotos.com)


Prior to the game, Melrose Unified player James Kavanaugh sang a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” MHS cheerleaders were on hand to welcome Unified players from all communities while folks enjoyed music and food.

The skies opened as the games neared conclusion but not before teams were able to celebrate wins.

James “The President” Kavanaugh spoke to Melrose Weekly about playing in his last Hoopapalooza game. He has in some ways been the face of Unified Basketball over the years and will advance to college next year. Sad for fans that the “king of threes” has taken his final dribble as a Unified athlete. In his many years of playing, he has seen it all, no doubt. Sweet victories. Bitter defeats. Dozens and dozens of his signature threes. And most of all, the cherished friendships with his teammates, some no longer with us.

Before playing in Melrose’s first game, The President kissed the sky and said “As always, this is for my friend Grace Zinck. Peace.”


COACH MANFREDI and Melrose’s Taijay Nazaire are beyond ready for Hoop-a-Palooza play. (photo by Raj Das, edphotos.com)