Each year, the Moorestown Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased to showcase a variety of new programs. This week, the department is excited to recap one of our longest standing youth programs — Recreation Basketball. This year the 2016 season boasted over 700 players and nearly 70 teams in 11 different leagues, grades 2 to 12. Each year this basketball program grows and this year the department added three additional leagues — second grade boys, second grade girls and high school girls. These three leagues established a great foothold and are sure to grow next season.
The Second Grade League opened for play and boasted a record turn-out for a new program with more than 80 players on 10 teams. The Girls High School League also got off to a strong start with girls in grades nine to 12 joining together to play on four different teams. According to program coordinator, Cyndi Britton, the 2016 season was the most successful season to date and shows no sign of slowing down.
Each winter, the air chills and the gyms heat up with significant competition in each league. This year, the youngest players in first grade were offered a clinic to introduce them to the game, the fundamentals of play and enjoyment of the game. The Second Grade League began as a clinic/live play combination where practices were combined with games on a weekly basis. Beginning in third grade, players used those learned fundamentals under the direction of volunteer parent coaches to practice weekly and play weekly games. The dedication of the parent volunteers is what makes these leagues possible.
As players get older, the Recreation Basketball Leagues increase in competition and the level of play increases. Once players reach the High School Leagues there are playoffs and finals where teams battle for the top seat. This year in the Boys High School League underdog, Team Loftus came from behind to win the championship. The final game, according to spectators was “amazing to watch” as the level of competition reached an all new level and the close game was won in double overtime with a score of 54–52. Third Seed Loftus played with heart as they beat both second seed and first seed teams with their high scorers Dane Fante (19 points), Ryan Loftus (16) and Russell Drzik (9). (Loftus Roster: Colin DeRose, Russell Drzik, Dane Fante, Matthew Harvey, Emre Efe Kahyaoglu, Ryan Loftus, Daniel McGee, Brendon Parker, Erik Witkowsk).
The new Girls High School League also boasted a defensive battle with the final score ending 15–9. Team Devine came out on top with three impressive three-pointers and two free throws by Meghan Roberts, supported by Alexis Law with 4 additional points. As a first year league, the Girls High School players played with a high level of skill. The competition among the four teams in this league will undoubtedly grow as the league increases in players.
The department wants to thank every player and every volunteer coach for their efforts and their commitment to making this league a success. The Department of Parks and Recreation supports all levels of play. The motto of the department is “All In.” Meaning all players are welcome regardless of experience; the department is all in, supporting every team and every player; and that every player and every coach, is “All In.” The commitment of the department is to build active and healthy human beings through competitive play and good sportsmanship, because at the end of the day, we all really are on the same team.