On a day where the College of Staten Island men’s basketball program honored the memory of late-assistant coach Matty White and his wife, Delores, over 20 alumni of the program turned out for the 5th Annual Matty White Men’s Basketball Alumni Game. The event not only serves as a chance for great alumni to get together and reminisce on great times, but a spirited basketball game followed, won by the White team by an 87-79 count over the Gray squad.
Both teams traded leads to start the first quarter, but the team in white used an 11-3 run to start the second quarter to open up a 33-22 lead, led by two Jordan Young baskets and a John Cali three-pointer. Later, a Rob Mesjasz three for Gray cut the lead to five, but a layup by Brian Gasper put back up by 10 before White took a 46-38 lead at the half.
In the second half, White led from start to finish. Three pointers by Gasper and Cali helped the team grab the game’s biggest lead at 54-40, but Gray did battle back. Mesjasz free-throws got the lead down to six in the third quarter, and in the fourth Gray cut the lead to 74-60 on a Michael Pan lay-up. But White responded from there with a 6-0 run to seemingly ice the game. Gray made it interesting by knocking the game down to four, 83-79, with 37 seconds left, but White’s Ken Thomassen would ice the game with four consecutive free-throws to cap the game.
Earning MVP honors for White was Cali, who tallied a game-high 21 points adding three assists for the winners. Young added 18 points and 6 rebounds, while Gasper oured in 16 points and 8 rebounds. Gari Blackett posted a game high 11 rebounds to go with 8 points, while Dan O’Leary added 10 points, seven on the offensive glass. For Gray, Mesjasz led the way with 15 points, adding five rebounds. Jack Westrenen added 13 points and 9 rebounds, while Michael Stewart and Michael Nebavlakis added 11 points each and Christian Montervino added 10.
More than anything, however, the entire group had a great time, celebrating the event with a rousing fully-catered luncheon after the contest, outfitted by Alumni Organizer Craig Sleap, who played for winning Team White. This year’s alumni came to play in the game from as far out as Florida (Gasper) and Michigan (Carlito Ulett). Team Gray was coached by Alum George Wonica and Team White was coached by Matty White’s sons Kenny and Matt.
Associate Athletic Director David Pizzuto coordinates the event each year, and noted the success of the afternoon. “Everyone has such a great time, from the guys on the court, the fans in the stands and the staff working the event,” he said. “What ends up shining the brightest on days like this are the obvious friendships that have built through the years.”
CSI Head Coach Tony Petosa, whose team defeated Medgar Evers College after the Alumni game, 76-67, also recognizes the value of the day, and the overlying themes of remembering Coach White.
“The alumni have wanted to hold this game for many years and to have this game be in its fifth-year with Matty’s and Mrs. White’s names attached to it is very overwhelming. He had such a profound effect on these guys and countless other alumni, so it’s great to remember him each year like this with everyone together.”
CSI Alumni to participate in this year’s event were: George Wonika, Jay Chazenoff, Neville Lestrade, Bill Felci, Matt Franzreb, Joe O’Leary, Jack Westrenen, Brian Namorato, Jeff Housman, Michael Stewart, Christian Montervino, Robert Mesjasz, Carlito Ulett, Michael Pan, Michael Nebavlakis, Evan Pickman, John Cali, Craig Sleap, Brian Gasper, Jordan Young, Gari Blackett, Ryan Hennessey, Ken Thomassen, and Dan O’Leary.