MELROSE ALL-Stars 4th and 5th grade team, pictured back row from left: 5th grader Megan Leeman, 4th grader Sara Dennison, 5th grader Grace Schmidt, 5th grader Adriana Santoriello, 5th grader Caitlin Sestito and Coach Andrea Razi-Thomas. Front row from left: 4th graders Emma Hughes, Kendall Brophy, Sam D’Addio, Emily Sestito and Claire Razi-Thomas. (courtesy photo)



MELROSE—This winter, thirteen Melrose 4th and 5th grade girls have been hard at work on the basketball court at Stoneham Boys and Girls club several nights a week.

These ballers, representing four Melrose elementary schools, decided they wanted greater basketball opportunity and competition than the in-town league offered by Melrose Recreation. They joined the Melrose All-Stars eager to compete in travel basketball and local tournaments. The Melrose All-Stars is a travel basketball program founded in the summer of 2021 by Coach Andrea Razi-Thomas, a Melrose mom and former college player.

This exciting and talented team, composed of four 5th graders and nine 4th graders, will play for the league championship in the playoffs on the weekend of March 12 and 13. They are led by 5th graders Megan Leeman from the Horace Mann School and Adrianna Santoriello from the Roosevelt School. The team is rounded out by 5th graders Caitlin Sestito and Grace Schmidt, alongside 4th graders Sam D’Addio, Emily Sestito, Claire Razi-Thomas, Sophie Lyall, Kendall Brophy, Emma Hughes, Sadie Patch, Bella Maciel and Sara Dennison.

Leaders Leeman and Santoriello bring a huge defensive presence and scoring dominance inside that puts opponents out of reach most nights. Caitlin Sestito adds a scoring punch and excellent defense, while D’Addio brings defensive hustle and solid ball handling that heckles opponents! Patch is a rising star looking to dominate in the years to come. Razi-Thomas displays great court vision while she and Emly Sestito bring basketball knowledge combined with a commitment and love of the sport that are sure to lead the 4th crew to great places down the road! The improvement week to week across the board is palpable and exciting These changes include left hand skills in Dennison and Lyall, amazing assists and improved ball handling by Brophy, huge rebounds by Hughes, increased aggressiveness in Schmidt, and improving know-how in Maciel. This team is deep and a force to be reckoned with.

Watching this team play you’d never know they were only 9-11 years old. They can run offenses and plays, and have the basketball IQ of some high school teams, showing they want to compete with the best. The All-Stars are in second place in their league, a 5th grade league, and hope to upset league leader Londonderry in the championships in a few weeks. The All-Stars did defeat the league leader from NH in one league matchup earlier this season.

The current 4th/5th All-Stars team is a young group up for a challenge and prepping for the future! Many of the current All-Stars including 4th graders D’Addio, Emily Sestito, Razi-Thomas, Lyall and Brophy played in the summer of 2021 for the All-Stars in the Fundamental Hoops Summer League. Here they competed against players up to a year older. D’Addio, Razi-Thomas and Brophy have also played AAU for Evolution Basketball. In the winter of 2021, they played against 4th and 5th graders as only 3rd graders.

This team of girls is kind, welcoming and hard-working. The passion these girls have for the game of basketball is apparent when you see this team. They arrive early to practice, work hard, and want to be great. Keep an eye out for them in the years to come!