Some of the Lady Rebels with Coach Luis Hernandez
With a rebel yell, girls take on boys at rec center
By Judith Stiles
Boys against the girls! This was the chatter rippling through the stands in a late-season basketball game at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center when the Lady Rebels faced off against the New York Rebels for what promised to be a lively game.
The program now boasts a whopping 56 teams, comprised of children 6 to 17 years old. Beloved athletic director Ray Pagan parked himself in a chair courtside to enjoy the game, while packs of parents flooded the benches to cheer the players on. Last year there was a mighty rivalry in the championship game between the Chilidogs and the New York Rebels, but the Chilidogs won by 1 point when a girl, Starr Breedlove, sunk a three-pointer with seconds to go in the game, recounted parent Sharon Fogarty. Starr is such an amazing player and is right up there at the boys level of play, she added enthusiastically.
Like many of the younger basketball teams in the league, the Chilidogs was a co-ed team, playing against the all-boys New York Rebels in that 2005 red-hot championship game. This time all eyes were on the Lady Rebels to see just how hard the New York Rebels would play pitted against a girls-only team. With puberty exploding in all different directions, the boys did not have an overwhelming height advantage, and that didnt matter to petite Michaela Weitzer of the Lady Rebels who was not shy about grabbing the ball away from Big Jimmy Hall.
The first quarter began with some wobbly dribbling on both sides coupled with smart passes made by both the ladies and gents, which Coach Luis Hernandez later described as well-executed set plays that he had been trying to teach both teams.
Ironically, Hernandez usually coaches both the Ladies and the Rebels but for this game he worked with the girls team, while a father stepped in to coach the Rebels. The Ladies played aggressively and were not afraid to take shots, but they were unlucky enough to have five of their tries reach the rim, roll around, only to see the ball not drop into the basket. At the end of the first quarter the score was 8-2 in favor of the Rebels, with one parent pointing out that if those rolling-rim balls had gone in, the score might have been 8-12. Be quiet and watch the game, chimed in a nearby parent who didnt like that theory.
In the next two quarters the score began to slip away from the Lady Rebels and it seemed that each time they made a basket, the Rebels answered within seconds, with a basket of their own, most notably Paul Kitchen and Quinn Hood, who executed layups like the pros. Although the third quarter ended with a score of 38-14 in favor of the Rebels, the Ladies never flagged, never gave up and never seemed discouraged. Rather, Emma Brown and Emma Latham were out on the court smiling their way through the game. The leading scorer for the Ladies was Kayla Metelenis who nudged the Ladies into double digits with a final score of 50-17 in favor of the Rebels.
After the game Jack Irving from the Rebels said, Look the boys have been playing basketball together since they were 4 or 5 years old and the girls didnt start playing until they were 9 or 10, so what do you expect? He added, Plus the boys play all the time, after school, in recess, and the girls do other things.
Coach Hernandez attributed the difference in skills to the fact that the boys practiced six hours a week from October to January, while the girls practiced half that time. Shanise Carela, mother of Starr Breedlove noted, You can always find Starr in the park, playing and practicing basketball whenever she can because she loves it so much.
Young Starr certainly loves her favorite player, Jason Kidd, and she enjoys the cachet of playing b-ball in the Big Apple, as her family travels in every week from Teaneck, N.J. Whether with boys, girls, tall ones, short ones, beginners and budding pros, Starr is happy to play with any of them at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, and she would be most happy to have the Chilidogs meet the Rebels again in a championship game this year, even if it is just a few girls against the boys.