2009-01-16 / Sports

Rockaway College Basketball Update: New Year and New Players

By Elio Velez

Lionel Hillaire (left) with teammate George Kunkel (right). Photo by Baruch College. Lionel Hillaire (left) with teammate George Kunkel (right). Photo by Baruch College. Vernon Teel's college basketball career has gone through many changes since he graduated as the alltime leading scorer at Flushing High School.

Teel's college career had stalled when he first enrolled at Long Island University. The 6-4 shooting guard did not play one minute at the school and transferred in 2007 to Chipola Junior College.

Teel found success playing at Chipola, which alerted Loyola Marymount coach Bill Bayno to give the shooting guard a college scholarship.

Chipola was ranked #2 in the country in the NJCAA polls and qualified for a bid to the NJCAA National Tournament.

Unfortunately for Teel, who joined a young LMU Lions team, things began to unravel for Teel.

Though he became the team's top scorer in the first five games, averaging 15 points, Teel suffered a broken foot in a LMU loss to Notre Dame in early November. Teel will not return until later this month.

LMU lost their third leading scorer Tim Diederichs to a shoulder injury and freshman Ashley Hamilton to a back injury.

Juanita Whyms. Photo courtesy of Hunter College Juanita Whyms. Photo courtesy of Hunter College But the biggest loss was Bayno, who departed the team after only the second game of the year because of health issues. Bayno will not return and assistant coach Max Good was named the new head coach.

The long journey of point guard

Darius Gabriel continues as the 21- year old has transferred from Southern Idaho Junior College to Westchester Community College.

In his high school career, Gabriel had first attended Bishop Loughlin High School for two years prior to transferring to Winchendon Prep in Massachusettes.

At Southern Idaho, Gabriel didn't have much playing time. Transferring close to home, he has found an opportunity to showcase his talents on the court.

Gabriel has averaged 15 points per game and scored a season high 24 against Sullivan Community College. The WCC Westcos is one of the top regional programs and has advanced to the NJCAA National Championships in Hutchinson, Kansas ten times.

Morgan Kelly, a Belle Harbor native, is currently playing for the Bears of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Kelly graduated from Molloy, where he was coached by the legendary Jack Curran.

The 6-9 sophomore center has mainly come off the bench this season. As a freshman, Kelly played 17 games.

Alvernia College senior Jeff Amponsah leads the Division III school is scoring with 12.8 points per game. The 6-1 guard/forward is originally from Far Rockaway and attended high school at Carson Long Military.

Amponsah recorded a career high double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds at Manhattanville College on December 6, 2008. Alvernia College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Baruch College's Lionel Hilaire is one of four players on the team who all graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School.

Hilaire, a 5-11 sophomore guard from Far Rockaway, graduated from Molloy under the direction of legendary coach Jack Curran. Sean Loftus, along with co-captains George Kunkel and Mike Dietz all graduated from the same high school.

Kelly Carman, a 6-1 center who starred at the Mary Louis Academy in 2007 when they captured the New York State Federation Class A title, is now playing at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

Carman has averaged ten minutes a game and has played 11 games in total. The University of Scranton, a Division III, school, is currently at 9-4. Kelly's sister Tiffanie has transferred from Baruch College to Queens College and will sit out this year.

5-8 guard/forward Michelle Kenel has averaged 16 minutes per game in her freshman year off the bench for Babson College. The Belle Harbor native attended Bishop Kearney High School.

Juanita Whyms, the Hunter College girls' basketball center, has done well in her first season with the Hawks.

The 6-0 center, who played at Stella Maris High School, has averaged 10 points and grabbed 9.5 rebounds per game in 11 games this season for Hunter. Her Hunter College teammate, Megan McKenna, starred at Midwood High School.

6-7 center Jeffrey Ganthier, formerly of Beach Channel High School, is currently playing at Nassau community College.

6-2 guard Dwayne Messam, formerly of Beach Channel High School, has transferred from Monroe Community College in Rochester to SUNY Old Westbury College.

Nelson Gedeon, a 6-3 senior at SUNY Potsdam, played his high school basketball at Thomas Edison.

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