align="center">Wheelchair event an eye-opening experience for area hoop stars
By KEVIN DEVANEY JR.
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: April 10, 2007)
Many of the top boys and girls basketball players from the Lower Hudson Valley will participate in tonight's Wheelchair Charities Basketball Classic at Long Island University.
Rosie Crean of Ursuline and Mount Vernon's Nadia Duncan and Kwinnyata Mercer will lead the Westchester girls squad against Brooklyn at 5 p.m. at the Schwartz Center on LIU's Brooklyn campus.
Michael Coburn of Mount Vernon, Mookie Jones of Peekskill, and Melquan Bolding and Tony Taylor of Stepinac headline the boys roster for Westchester, which faces Brooklyn at 8.
This is the first time Westchester has fielded teams in the 34th annual event, which traditionally draws elite talent from New York City.
"I heard a number recently that in 34 years of this event, 79 NBA players have taken part," said Lou DeMello, the director of the Brewster Sports Center, who helped organize the Westchester teams.
As part of the event, all players spent April 3 at Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island, where they visited with people of all ages who were confined to wheelchairs.
"I think the kids thought this was just going to be a basketball game," said Stepinac coach Tim Philp, who's coaching the team with Peekskill's Lou Panzanaro and Westchester Hawks coach Rob Rizzo. "But the trip to the hospital really shed a different light on things for these guys. They left with a real appreciation for what they have."
The rest of the Westchester boys rosters includes Elliot Watson of Peekskill, Rishawn Johnson of White Plains, Anthony Pegues of Stepinac, LaMonte Lans of Spring Valley, Jeff Ryan of Newburgh Free Academy and Antonio Willams of Poughkeepsie.