Rockaway Talent Shines at NYS High School Championships
Several players from Rockaway help ed their teams into the New York State Division I High School Cham pionships held in Glens Falls, New York last weekend.
In the Girls Division I Class A championship, Arch Bishop Molloy defeated Our Lady of Lourdes. Local talent Jennifer Kelleher provided Molloy with a great inside presence through her defense, shot blocking and re bounding. Kelleher did all the intangible things that make a team a winner, but don’t always show up in the stats.
In the Division I Class B Cham p ionships both the boys and girls teams from Poly Prep qualified. This was in no small part due to the contributions of some other talented players from Rockaway.
The Poly Prep girls were overall N.Y.S. Ivy League champion (includes all private schools in N.Y.). They then qualified for the Division I Class B Championship by winning the N.Y.S. Ivy League Federation tournament. This was the second year in a row that they were able to achieve this goal. Sam Swensen, a sophomore, was the team’s leading scorer. With her size and quickness she made big contributions on defense and under the boards. Her play throughout the season earned her a spot on the first team all Ivy.
Poly Prep freshman Caitlin Wheeler, continued to become more and more important to team as the year went on. Without Wheeler’s presence on the inside the team never would have made it as far as they did.
Elizabeth Ross served as a strong bench player. When Ross came in the game the team didn’t lose a step.
The team played in the semi-finals against South Jefferson, the upstate public school champion. It was a close game all the way, but unfortunately Poly Prep began to tire down the stretch and lost by 12 points.
The Poly Prep boys’ team were also overall N.Y.S. Ivy League champion. They too qualified to go to Glens Falls by winning the N.Y.S. Ivy League Fed eration tournament. The boys qualified despite the loss of their top scorer Liam Biesty. Without Liam, the other Poly Prep players had to step up their game. Several of the big performers were also from Rockaway: Kevin Kelleher and Sal DeMarco. If that Kelleher name sounds familiar, it should, Kevin and Jennifer are brother and sister. To get to the championship is hard enough, but to have two kids from the same family make it there is remarkable (must be in the genes).
On the court, Kelleher plays big and tough in the paint when his team needs it. He also has a beautiful touch from the outside, especially from behind the three-point arc. Only a sophomore, Kelleher has a very bright future ahead.
Sal DeMarco is a hustler from the opening tip until the final buzzer and he’s probably the best defender on the team, consistently being matched the best guard from the opposing team. Without his tenacious defense and senior leadership the team never would have made it to Glen Falls.
The team played in the semi-finals against Susan B. McKinney, the Metropolitan public school champion, and lost a very close game. The refs played a roll in the loss with horrible calls in the final minutes of the game.
Congratulations should go to the teams and players. Getting to Glens Falls is extremely difficult and most teams never even get a chance to play there. It’s also a pleasure to see the Rockaway tradition of turning out great basketball players continues. Keep your eyes on these kids in the future.