The Jersey Shore Lightning AAU girls U16 national basketball team has won the NJ AAU state championship for the second year in a row, and the third time in the last four years. They defeated the Lady Patriots of Hudson County, 67-61, in a well-played final. The Lightning are the Shore’s best-kept secret, featuring several of the Shore’s top players. They are coached by Brendan Pierson, a former Fordham University player, and John Brown, a former player at Ramapo College. On the court, the Lightning are led by three All-Conference performers in Shantel Brown and Courtney Calderon (of St. John Vianney) and Jadis Rhodin of Manchester. Brown provides leadership at the point, while Calderon and Rhodin are excellent finishers and rebounders. Tory West of Shore Regional provides consistent outside shooting and defense, and Vanessa Holden of Immaculate Heart Academy, the lone out-of-area player, provides rugged rebounding and an inside presence. The greatest strength of the team, according to the coach, is its depth. “We go two-deep at every position, Pierson said. Mandi Pierson of Wall High School is an excellent three-point shooter and floor leader, while Brianne Moran of Middletown South, a multiple sports star, and Youngor Kehleay of Monmouth Regional, play both guard positions and provide excellent quickness and athleticism in the backcourt. Tranitta Gutridge of Neptune High School, and two newcomers to the team, Nicole Hawkins of Manasquan and Kristine Perez of St. John Vianney, are capable of playing multiple positions as well, and add to the team’s overall athleticism. The Lightning have also recently won the prestigious Deep South Classic, held at the University of North Carolina. They will compete in numerous tournaments this summer, including the AAU national championships in Chattanooga, Tenn. and the US Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C.
Over-30 baseball league thriving throughout area BY ROBERT LAMBER Correspondent BY ROBERT LAMBERCorrespondent On any given Sunday, at the crack of dawn from April to October, men between the ages of 30 to 60 drag their aging bodies from under warm comfortable blankets to participate in a young man’s game. For some, they are getting ready for religious observance. But for others, according to Robert Delahant, commissioner with the U.S. Over 30 Baseball League, it is to rekindle their youth on the field of their dreams — a baseball diamond. They do it willingly with a love that can only be explained by the little boy inside all of them, Delahant said. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, bankers — players with all types of occupations as diverse as can be imagined — become children again for a few hours each weekend. With aging knees and elbows wrapped in elastic bandages and the placement of protective apparatus in appropriate places, these weekend warriors put on baseball uniforms and join their teammates on Sunday mornings for a competitive game of baseball. And, competitive it is. “Maybe it’s not like watching the Yankees or the College World Series, but it’s pretty good nonetheless,” said Middletown’s Gordon Bartolomei, manager of the Monmouth White Sox, one of the division teams for those over 40 within the league. Division teams are made up of players 30 to 40, 40 to 50, and 50 and older. Bartolomei said participation in these leagues is a growing trend in the state and across the country. Many amateur leagues are geared toward the young, Delahant said. But the over-30 league gives past-their-prime athletes a second chance to be children again. The league was started in 1986 as the love child of Delahant, of Point Pleasant. “I hoped to appeal to the competitive nature of past ballplayers like myself who still had a yearning to feel the grass and dirt of a baseball diamond under their feet,” Delahant said. “Many of these men played in high school and college, and some were lucky enough to taste the professional level. Now, with the start of this old man’s league, they could search their attics for their worn-out gloves, and dust off the dirt and cobwebs from their spikes.” “I remember what it was like when I first heard of the league,” said Richard DeGennaro, a member of the Monmouth White Sox and also from the Middletown area. “It would be great to play again. The challenge would be if I could run the bases again, and instead of just watching my kids play sports on the weekend, they could now come watch dad play.” The implications of this league were exciting, and it had a following almost immediately, DeGennaro said. Most of the participants admit that it’s been years since they played competitive baseball, Delahant said. As players found themselves getting used to life’s adult responsibilities, he said, they’ve moved comfortably from strenuous team competitive sports, to golf, maybe tennis, or a local softball league. Some may have put on a few extra pounds and are convinced their “love handles” have been well earned. One of the player’s wives suggested to her husband, “It’s probably time you accepted the reality of getting older and that ‘baseball is a young man’s game.’ ” Robert Portegello, a real estate attorney, and a teammate of Gordon comments, “Maybe it’s ego, or maybe it’s just a curiosity to see if I still have what it takes. But whatever the reason, I have found my way back onto the ballfield and have fallen in love with this game all over again. It may take longer to stretch those muscles, get up in the morning, and run the bases, but old habits die hard.” And so it goes, that this league has grown and flourished since its inception almost 20 years ago. With over 100 teams in the over-30 and over-40 leagues, there are enough ballplayers to make up some pretty competitive teams. The over-50 league has fewer teams but no less the spirit and desire of the younger divisions. Gordon, Robert and Richard all play for the Monmouth White Sox, one of the teams in the Over 40 Baseball League. “Most of our games are played against teams in the Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties, and we travel to Staten Island and up to the North Jersey counties when necessary,” comments Gordon. “My teammates range in age from 40 to our resident ‘old man Mickey,’ who’s still playing at 63. He also happens to be an attorney, so no one tells him he can’t play,” he said laughingly. Most teams in the over-40 league have the same age mix, and all the teams are placed in divisions that allow them to play other teams close to home or in and around their counties. “We have a nice bunch of guys, and there’s a lot of razing that goes on in the dugout,” states Ben Grilli, also a member of the Monmouth White Sox, “but it’s one of the things that makes playing together fun. I think the camaraderie helps make us a winning ball club. At the end of the season there are the division playoffs, and for the last few years we’ve been one of the better teams.” “The abilities of some of the athletes in this league are surprisingly good,” states Delahant. “Some even look suspiciously young. I have to check their birth certificates to verify that they belong in this league,” he laughed. “It looks like some of them don’t even shave yet, and they still have full heads of hair.” The games are fun, and sportsmanship is always displayed with handshakes at game’s end. Each player pays a small fee that goes to the league to pay for umpires, baseballs, etc. Most of the baseball fields that the teams play on are kept in good shape and are used by the high school teams during their season as well. Games start at 9:30 a.m. You would wonder why men would pay to get up early Sunday morning on a hot and humid summer day and leave the comforts of home and air conditioning? Why risk aches and pains from muscles they didn’t know existed? Why put on a uniform that causes them to perspire just sitting in the dugout? Why risk embarrassment by making an error on a ground ball that their sister could have made easily, or get caught stealing 20 feet from the base because they thought they were faster than they are? “Because we’ve experienced all those things before at one time or another,” Richard DeGennaro said. “We’ve dealt with the embarrassment, aches and pains more than once, and loved every minute of it.” “We may have healed faster and played better 20 years ago,” Gordon said, “but the smell of the grass and the excitement of still being able to throw a ball, and swing a bat, makes it worthwhile.” From the commissioner on down to the players, they all state that sitting in the dugout with a bunch of guys who have experienced the joy of baseball and who make the effort to show up on Sunday to spend three hours attempting to be a kid again, seems as natural as being a kid again. That’s why you will find these “old timers” between April and October, laughing and complaining about the smell of Ben-Gay in the dugout and whose back hurts worse. They love the game, and if worse comes to worse, they’ll just call in sick on Monday. “But,” said Delahant playfully, “ask your ‘missus’ first. If you’re going to be a kid again, someone has to give you permission.”
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer With its top two pitchers back, along with several strong hitters, the Matawan High School baseball team is looking to contend in the Shore Conference’s A Central division, coach John Kaye said. The Huskies got off on the right foot on Saturday with a 7-3 triumph over division-rival Rumson-Fair Haven. Tyler Renner did the job on the mound for Matawan, permitting just four hits in six innings of work, while his teammates put the numbers on the board, including five stolen bases. The win was important because Matawan has three more division games this week: yesterday against Raritan, tomorrow at Manasquan and Friday at home against St. John Vianney. “This is a huge week for us and it will certainly have a bearing on the division,” Kaye said. “It was nice to start out with a win and now our guys have to keep it going. They’re all important games.” Renner’s superb job in the hill illustrates his team’s strength: pitching. Last season, Renner compiled a 5-3 mark with 48 strikeouts in 44 innings of work. Left-hander Danny Conti, who lacked run support at times, went 3-3. Together, Renner, who also hit .280, and Conti had a hand in eight of the Huskies 11 victories a year ago, giving Kaye a potent one-two punch this time around. But that’s not all. Matawan has plenty of pitching. Dave Totin and Josh Naparstek both looked strong in scrimmages, the coach noted. The versatile Totin, did well in scrimmages, and will work out of the bullpen for the most part. Junior Matt Buragina and sophomores Dave Geran, Kevin Knox and J.D. Melendez round out a deep staff. “Over the last few years, we’ve been a team that seemed to have four DHs in the lineup and we scored a lot of runs,” Kaye said. “This year, we have more speed, we can field and throw and our pitching is very strong. We can still score some runs, but we can build runs too, and make them hold up.” At the top of the lineup, Kaye has a pair of excellent table-setter. Lead-off man John Foster, the second baseman, posted a .570 on-base average a year. No. 2 hitter, speedy sophomore Fran Santimauro, also finds ways to get on base. That’s certainly good news for sophomore shortstop and No. 3 hitter Julian Sonnenfeld, who whacked three homers and drove in 26 runs last spring. Catcher and cleanup man Dan Turley, a .300 hitter, will also get plenty of at-bats with runners aboard. Sonnenfeld and Turley are both three-year starters. Buragina lines up at first, while Knox and Melendez share third base duties. Junior Nick Chomko, an excellent flychaser is in center field. Renner, a .280 hitter, Santimauro, Totin and Naparstek will see action in right and left fields. Conti can play the outfield and first base. Peter Oleniec and junior Nick Citro provide outfield depth. “Our outfield is strong, for the most part if a ball is hit in the air it’s an out,” Kaye said. “That really helps our pitchers. Our depth is going to help as well. We have a 15-man roster, and I’m going to get everyone involved. We’re not going to be an easy team for anybody to play. With our talent and depth we should be right in the mix of the division race.”
A free softball clinic for members of the Hazlet Hawks softball organization will be held at noon on April 11, on the varsity softball field at Raritan High School, 419 Middle Road, Hazlet. The clinic will be run by Raritan’s head softball coach Aado Kommendant and the members of the Raritan Rockets varsity softball team. For additional information, contact Aado Kommendant at email@example.com. A First Pitch Pancake Breakfast, hosted by the Middletown Lion Hall of Fame, will be held 8 a.m. to noon on April 5 at the VFW catering hall on Route 36 in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown. The event has been organized to provide support for the baseball and softball teams at Middletown High School North. All Lion players — past and present — will be recognized. Tickets are $10 each for adults, $6 for children between 5-8, and children ages 4 and under are free. For tickets or more information, call 732-747-9588 or email LionHallOfFame@ aol.com.
St. John Vianney High School’s Kristen Politz was named to the New Jersey Girls Gymnastics Coaches Association’s All-State Team for the all-around.
Let’s take a look at the Irish stars lining up in this special team: For more articles and the latest soccer news, check out 90min.com
The World Cup tournament will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand from October 27 to December 2, while Papua New Guinea will host the Kumuls’ three pool matches in Port Moresby.PNG Kumuls will play their first pool match against Wales on October 28.The second pool match is against Ireland on November 5 and the third match against the United States on November 12.Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko said 2017 is going to be a big year for rugby league especially now that PNG will be hosting the RLWC for the first time in history.Tkatchenko said they’ll be making some official announcements for the RLWC on February 1.The executives of the RLWC Organising Committee and PNG Rugby Football League will be announcing the major platinum sponsors and the whole program leading up to October.Tkatchenko said PNG had a successful FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in November 2016 and they look forward to doing the same thing for rugby league this year.“We want our people to embrace it and I’m sure the stadiums will not be big enough to hold the fans and supporters,” he said.The RLWC in Port Moresby is sponsored by the National Government with K5m and the National Capital District Commission with K5m.Tkatchenko once again thanked the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and NCD Governor Powes Parkop for coming on board and supporting the bid and making it happen to host the Kumuls’ pool matches.
The BFPNG National Championships will provide competing players with the opportunity for selection to the BFPNG national representative squads for the 2017 FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup, which is being hosted by Papua New Guinea this coming September.BFPNG Chief Executive Officer, Joel Khalu is confident that the six-day event will showcase the countries elite basketballers.“We’ve had strong interest from affiliated associations based all over PNG.“We’re just waiting for those associations to complete the nomination process and submit the required paperwork by the June 16 deadline, so we can lock them into the competition draw.“Being one of the more significant selection events for our PNG national senior squads, we want to make sure that we have a diverse cross-section of athletes coming from all over the country.“We are also hopeful that the tournament may uncover a few hidden gems, the same way that it did when we hosted the BFPNG under 18 national championships last year,” said Khalu.The larger Port Moresby based associations are expected to do well throughout the championships; however Khalu said Hoops fans shouldn’t be surprised if some of the smaller, regional sides also cause some upsets.“That’s the beauty of these types of tournaments. All it takes is for an underdog team to gain some early confidence and momentum and have a bit of luck and they can take down a powerhouse side or two.“I’m really excited to see the level of play and how the competition unfolds in both the men’s and women’s divisions,” said Khalu.
“There were a lot of errors but a win is a win. But still have a lot of work to do. We need to play like a top side in the competition. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy in the second half but we were prepared to work extra hard to win. It was a good effort from the team,” said Marum.The Hunters will have the bye in round 19.“The good thing is we now have a bye so can come back fresh and finish off the season strongly,” said Marum.
WBO champion Saunders (25-0) will make his third defence against David Lemieux (38-3) in Canada in December but has his eyes on the other belts in the division.Golovkin (37-0-1) retained his IBF, WBA and WBC straps following a draw in his highly anticipated fight with Canelo (49-1-2) in Las Vegas last month and a rematch has been ordered by the latter governing body.Saunders believes he should be next in line for Golovkin, or Canelo, should the Mexican come out on top when they go toe to toe again.”I don’t just want the dog meat that Golovkin has left behind, I want the dog himself,” said Saunders.”And when I come through this fight, I will have him. [Lemieux] is a mandatory, and we’ve agreed to a deal to go over to foreign soil and get it on.”Once I beat Lemieux I’ll be moving onto bigger fish – the winner of the rematch between Canelo and Golovkin. I’m looking forward to a great fight.”Lemieux looks good against ‘B-level’ fighters, but he is now getting in the ring with someone who is far more superior and slick than anyone he has ever been in with.”