The emcees and play-by-play announcers for the event were New Jersey Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) and Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky. Johnson was his typical showman self trading comments with Bramnick, cheering on his players and razzing Starks and his players.
Johnson was heard yelling "Seton Hall" through the game, teasing former NBA player Terry Dehere every time he grabbed the ball to take a 3-point shot from the corner, looking much like his younger self. Dehere has been a New Jersey favorite since the early 1990s when he became Seton Hall University's and the Big East all-time point leader. He went on to play in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings.
For as much as he cheered Dehere, he teased Felipe Lopez, former shooting guard for the Vancouver Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves and a St. John's University alum, who on Saturday was playing for Team Starks. Lopez, unashamedly wearing polka-dotted socks, was a quick target of Johnson.
Coach Starks was much more cerebral, taking a quiet approach to coaching his team lead by Lopez and including "Black Jack" Ryan, member of the Harlem Wizards trick shot basketball club. Earlier in the event Ryan hammed it up with some young Holy Trinity basketball players and later put on a half-time show with his grade-school-aged daughter who showed the crowd she's picked up some skills from her dad.
Johnson's team pulled away to win, but the game was very tight through the 3rd quarter.
Other local stars at the event included three parents from the school with basketball credentials. Tim Corrigan is the co-founder of the North Jersey Lakers of the Eastern Basketball Alliance who reached the 1,000 point club at Kean University and played professionally in Norway; Jamie Dec, the all-time point scorer when he played at Union Catholic High School; and Kate Handal, who played college ball at at Manhattan College.
Another big name on the bench was Dave Boff, who was assistant coach for Team Starks. Boff, in his seventh year as basketball coach at Roselle Catholic, took the Lions to their first State Championship and first Tournament of Champions title last year. They finishied the season #1 in NJ and #14 in the nation. Boff has been honored by the NJSIAA with the Basketball Honor Award, given for an extended period of excellence and commitment to student athletes.
The event was run by the HTIS Home & School Association as a fund-raiser for the school, a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
Fourteen basketball alumni of the school also put on an exhibition game at the start of the afternoon and more than 100 current HTIS basketball players were in uniform to welcome the players back onto the court at the start of the second half. Basketball is a significant part of student life for many children at the school, according to Athletic Director Rich Wieszczek, who was also the assistant coach for Team Johnson. Wieszczek said the school runs a clinic starting in Kindergarten and this year is fielding 13 teams from grades 2 through 8.
Speaking during the invocation, the Rev. Msgr. Joseph P. Masiello addressed the crowd saying "the school has been the love of my life for the past 19 years that I've been assigned" to Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church. Masiello made a point to say he was particularly grateful to see fellow Seton Hall alum Terry Dehere in his gym. Masiello was later the random winner of one of the four signed game balls given out as door prizes. He said he'd be donating the ball to the school's permanent collection to memorialize the event, which he said was unlike any other the school's ever held.