MADISON, NJ – In the second annual “Believe in the Cure Day” at Madison High School, the Madison girls basketball team won its fifth game in a row by defeating Roselle Park, 51-26, on Jan. 12.
Madison improved to 7-1 on the season on a day that raised money for the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. The game was in honor of longtime teacher and coach Gene Melleno, who passed away after a battle with leukemia.
Melleno was a physical and driver’s education teacher at Cranford until retiring in 2016. He coached girls basketball at Madison for six years. In addition to coaching basketball, Melleno was also a coach of tennis, football and baseball at Brearley and Cranford high schools in Union County.
Melleno died from the disease in January 2018.
Both Madison High School coach Stephen Hughes and Roselle Park head coach Ian Matten had connections with Melleno, each reading off a detailed speech after the game.
“It had more meaning,” Hughes said of the game. “It was a meaningful event.”
After a sluggish start from both teams, the Dodgers quickly took control and raced out to a 17-4 lead after one quarter, using a 13-0 run to push away from the Panthers.
The Dodgers were able to use defense to create offense, taking advantage of Roselle Park turnovers.
“Shots need to go a little bit more often, but we’re doing a great job defensively,” Hughes said. “If you compare our wins to our losses, if you look at those stats, the deflections and steals are up in our wins.”
Madison’s Kate Christos put in a team-high 11 points while Courtney Bland added 10 points.
While the Dodgers are tweaking some things – including using a new zone defense – they are starting to find some consistency.
Four of the five wins have come by double digits in this winning streak.
Emma Cieslinksi put in 12 points for Roselle Park.
Madison takes on Boonton on Jan. 15.