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2011 Basketball Champions!


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The Champions: (front l-r) Sal Vassallo, Michael Daggett, David Festa, Julian Pena, Dean Ramsthaler; (middle) Ian Metzger, Andrew Luehs, Andrew Siegelin, Steven Priscoe, Joey Zecchino; (back) Coach Peter Festa, Coach Alex Pena

This weekend, the Verona 5th grade Suburban basketball team did what not too many people thought they could do at the beginning of the season: They won the championship.

The team started the season slowly and was just 1-5 after the first six games. But their coaches say they re-focused and worked harder than ever in all of their practices.  To make the playoffs in the eight-team Suburban league, the Verona team had to win at least seven of their final eight games to be the No. 4 seed.  The team came through and finished the regular season at 8-6 to secure the final play-off spot.  Included in th0se seven wins were victories over Livingston and Nutley, both on the road and both teams were tied for first place when Verona played them.

It was probably good experience because the playoffs were all on the road against tough teams.  Verona’s first game was against a powerful top-seeded West Orange team.  West Orange was physically a much bigger team than Verona and had won both regular season games against Verona. But Verona fought hard and came away with a thrilling 29-28 win and an upset victory.

For the championship game, Verona traveled to Nutley, the No. 2 seeded team.  In front of a a standing-room-only crowd at the Nutley Recreation Center, Verona found itself behind early by 13 points.  The Verona boys never gave up and came away with a stunning 49-38 victory. The coaches say that each of the 10 Verona players contributed in a big way in the championship game and during the entire championship season.

Verona also plays in the Wayne PAL league and starts thpse playoffs on Saturday against Montville.

Pam Priscoe took these photos of the championship game:

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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