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 6th 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, and for the first time in the game’s history, the game ended in a draw between the Grey and Blue teams.
Many of the statistics were nearly identical throughout the game, but it was the Blue team that got to an early lead and the team led wire-to-wire until a game-tying three-pointer by Kenneth Thomassen tied the game at the buzzer. A fitting end to an exciting matchup.
Three three-pointers by Bloochy Valbrun, CSI’s all-time leading scorer helped Blue to a 30-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. After three’s by Grey’s Unique Heyward and Robert Mesjasz cut the lead to seven, Blue went ahead again on a big three for Joe O’Leary and then three’s by JC Albano and later Ryan Hennessey gave Blue 15 point leads. Christian Montervino put Blue ahead 57-41, before another Mesjasz three made it 57-44 at intermission.
A 9-2 Blue run to close the third quarter helped the team take a commanding 86-67 lead at the end of three, but in fitting Alumni Game fashion, back came the trailing team. A three-pointer by Brian Gasper cut the lead to single digits 91-82, with 5:30 to go, and with 1:58 to go, another Valbrun three made in 96-86 for Blue., Mesjasz followed with a lay-up and after a turnover, Heyward converted another lay-in. With 1:03 left, Michael Stewart powered in a lay-up to make it 96-92. After a Blue miss, John Cali sank two free-throws for Grey and then Grey purposely fouled T.J. Tibbs who made one basket to make it 97-94. That left one final shot and Ken Thomassen made it hurt with the clock winding down, part of two three’s on the day for him.
Leading the way for Blue was Valbrun with 27 points on 10-20 shooting. Christina Montervino added 15 points, Frank Husslein powered for 12 and Joe O’Leary knocked in 11. For Grey, Stewart led with 19 points on 8-19 shooting, while Mesjasz canned 18 points on 7-12 shooting. Gasper finished with 14 points, with Cali posting 11 and Thomassen 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 coached for Team Blue. This year’s alumni came to play in the game from as far out as Florida (Gasper) and Maryland (Eric Andres). Team Gray was coached by Alum George Wonica. Not participating players included Jay Chazenoff, Bill Felci, Neville Lestrade, and Tony Petosa.
Associate Athletic Director David Pizzuto coordinates the event each year, and noted the success of the afternoon. “Everyone always comments on how much fun they had at the event each year and that’s a real joy to see,” 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 Brooklyn College after the Alumni game, 81-80, 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 sixth-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.”
A copy of the final boxscore can be found HERE.