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Community Cheers on Ames Hoopsters

A crowd of upwards of 350 people enthusiastically cheered on the Massapequa High School Ames Campus Challenger basketball team on March 7 and also honored a beloved student. It was the final game of the season for the ninth grade players who hit the court against neighboring Amityville.

Proudly donning their blue and gold uniforms, the Chiefs drew loud applause with each basket. An estimated 180 students attended, along with scores of teachers, support staff, administrators, board of education trustees, parents and community members.

“The turnout is incredible,” said Challenger coach Salvatore Calderone. “We’re a great community here and this shows that.”

The game was played in honor of Fallon Brown, a fifth grade student at Unqua Elementary School who passed away in early February. All money raised from the game was donated to Gigi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome achievement center, with a Long Island location in Patchogue. There were raffle baskets donated by the National Junior Honor Society, as well as baked goods and 3D-printed yellow bursts with Fallon’s initials for sale.

The basketball players were joined on the sideline by their buddies, who have provided tremendous support and encouragement throughout the five-game season. The Challenger cheerleaders also helped keep the crowd energized.

Before the game, there was a three-point shooting contest, with Michael Lucchi winning the student portion and Superintendent Dr. William Brennan crowned the hoops champion of the staff. Ninth grader Rylie D. played the National Anthem on the guitar before tip-off.

Mr. Calderone was supported by assistant coaches Melinda McDermott, Diane McGrath, Cathy Mrozca, Erica Murphy and Katie Reilly, as well as Career and Community Connections teachers Kathleen Wegener and Trish DePalma.