MENDHAM _ Mark Gnapp has spent a good portion of his life involved with basketball, first as a player then as a coach and AAU director at Hoop Heaven.
On Sunday, March 26, Gnapp added another experience to his deep resume when he served as head coach of the North Squad at the North-South Girls Senior All-Star Game held at Rider University.
"It was really great. I enjoyed it," said Gnapp, who has guided the Mendham girls program since 2012. "It was a lot of fun. The level of talent we have in New Jersey is very high. There are so many excellent players."
Among the players on the North Squad were Lodi Immaculate's Danielle Deoul and Breyenne Bellerand. Both are committed to Division I colleges. Deoul is headed to George Mason while Bellerand signed with James Madison.
The team also featured Allie Best of Voorhees, whose next stop is Marist. Best and the Vikings handed Gnapp's Minutemen a 51-46 setback earlier this month in a North Jersey Section 2, Group III quarterfinal.
Morris County was represented by Hanover Park's Ava Gammo, whom Gnapp referred to as "a great kid and hard worker." Kristyn Spetz of Pope John also competed in the North-South Game. Jon Slackman, the Lions' coach, was one of Gnapp's assistants.
The team held one practice at Mendham High School. A second practice was canceled due to a snowstorm.
"These girls were fine with one practice," Gnapp said. "They're all accomplished players. Many of them are the high scorers for their teams. They put that aside, though, and were very unselfish during the game."
Gnapp, who coached the Parsippany girls and boys teams for a combined 13 years before moving over to Mendham, said he simply congratulated the all-stars for making the team and let them play.
"I told them to enjoy it," he said. "It was a great honor for the players and for me. It was their last high school game. I was pleased to be a part of it."