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Basketball

Strambi is Soar-NJ POY

MORRISTOWN _ To the Junior Colonials, Elizabeth Strambi is a superstar. Kids flock to Strambi, Morristown's affable junior guard. They cling to her and climb on her. Strambi, comfortable with her elite status, lets them, laughing and joking as she drags them around. "Elizabeth is approachable, whether at clinics or games. Anywhere," Colonials coach Jim Pisciotto said. "Children look up to her. They watch her play. They look at her crossover dribble and say 'See what she just did?!?' They admire Elizabeth and she gives back. All of our kids do." Strambi, the 2017 Soar-NJ.com Morris County Basketball Player of the Year,…

Gnapp honored to coach North All-Stars

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…

Bush, Rubino fuel White Team

MORRISTOWN _ Kaleigh Rubino was feeling glum when Pequannock's basketball season came to an end at Ramapo in late February. Several days later, Rubino, still feeling sad, handed in her No. 32 uniforms. Her high school career was officially over. On Wednesday, March 22, Rubino, chosen to compete in the Morris County Girls Basketball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game, got her home jersey and shorts back. The shooting guard's smile returned, too. She'd have one more chance to play the game she loves. Three days later, Rubino, who sent out a Snapchat from home before the game, thrived on the hardwood at Morristown-Beard, netting five…

Hornets halted by High Point

WEST ORANGE _ Alexa Bursese isn't going to dwell on the last game of her high school career, certainly not the last 10 or 12 minutes. Bursese, who won't don a uniform in college, is going to remember all of the moments before the 48-33 loss to High Point in a Group II semifinal that brought Hanover Park's fine run to a halt. Getting ousted from the state tournament was disappointing and it saddened Bursese and her teammates but it was hardly devastating. Much of what made the Hornets one of Morris County's top teams was on display - hustle, teamwork…

A fine season comes to a close

UNION _ Errant passes. Hasty offense. Not responding well under pressure. Double-digit turnovers in the first half. Those are not the trademarks of Morristown basketball and certainly not what earned the Colonials three titles and kept them alive until deep into the season. Morristown, normally exceptional at rattling its opponents, simply could not contend with sophomore Diamond Miller and Franklin in a Group IV semifinal on Wednesday, March 8 and lost, 61-37, at Union High School. "I think we needed to stay together. Be more poised," said senior Kimberly Calloway, whose 12 points paced the Colonials. "We were nervous and tense and never settled…

Strambi powers Colonials

MORRISTOWN _ Morristown had taken care of all of the little details while preparing for its sectional final versus East Orange. The top-seeded Colonials, riding high after claiming Morris County Tournament and conference titles, were ready, no doubt, but one question loomed before game time: Would it be necessary to open all of the bleachers? The extra seating behind the team benches was needed and junior guard Liz Strambi and Morristown thrilled the enthusiastic near-capacity crowd with a 45-35 victory over East Orange to take the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championship on Monday, March 6. The Colonials' only other sectional crown was attained…

Mendham bows out of tourney

MENDHAM _ Meredith Curtin's mind was consumed by Mendham's sectional quarterfinal versus Voorhees. Curtin, a senior co-captain, hoped she and the Minutemen would knock off the Vikings and extend their season. She had her heart set on playing in Saturday's semifinals. So, Curtin did all she could - scored, leaped, dove, sank all six of her second-half foul shots - to ensure that Mendham would remain alive in the North Jersey Section 2, Group III bracket. The all-out energetic effort, though, wasn't enough as the third-seeded Minutemen fell, 51-46, to No. 6 Voorhees on Thursday, March 2. "This game meant so much to me," Curtin…

Bulldogs exit state tournament

BUTLER _ It wasn't the outcome Butler wanted certainly not after overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit to gain a fourth-quarter lead. Still, Bulldogs coach Kim Wilson couldn't fault her team which has played an abundance of determined and focused minutes this season. Butler sought to deter North Warren standout Kelly Vuz and, for the most part, succeeded. Vuz, however, took charge in the final 2:40 of the North Jersey Section 1, Group I opening-round game on Tuesday, Feb. 28, netting the last six points, including the 1,000th of her career, to boost the 10th-seeded Patriots over the seventh-seeded Bulldogs, 39-34.…

Colonials nab MCT championship

RANDOLPH _ Elizabeth Strambi, anticipating Morristown's appearance in the Morris County Girls Basketball Tournament final, found it difficult to focus on her schoolwork all week. By Friday, Feb. 24, the day of the Colonials' matchup with Jefferson for the title, Strambi, a junior guard, had only one thought in her mind - winning. She recalled taking a quiz in environmental science and plodding through. "I couldn't function. I was too excited," said Strambi, who was later named MVP for her exceptional effort after top-seeded Morristown raced past No. 2 Jefferson, 47-23, at The County College of Morris. "School was hard all week.…

Solid late-season showing by Bombers

BOONTON _ The moment Boonton coach Jim Drury laid his eyes on his players, he knew a tense, hard-fought night game versus Newton the night before had taken its toll. "As soon as I saw them in the gym, I could tell they were exhausted," Drury said. The Bombers' mental and physical state had Drury concerned but they dug deep and garnered a 28-24 victory over North Warren less than 20 hours after falling short versus the Braves. It came as no surprise that it took Boonton a quarter or so to build up its energy and desire in its rematch…