WEST ORANGE, NJ – The fifth annual Mary Kline Classic was held Saturday night at West Orange High School. Alex Kline, who founded the high school basketball prospect news website The Recruit Scoop, organizes the event in memory of his mother Mary Kline, who died from a brain tumor ten years ago when Alex was ten years old.
The Mary Kline Classic features some of the best high school basketball talent in the country. Past participants include Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, Kentucky’s Karl Towns, and Maryland’s Romelo Trimble. More importantly, the event raises money for cancer research. Coming into Saturday’s event, the previous four Mary Kline Classic showcases and the first annual Winter Classic held this past December succeeded in raising $104,000 for cancer research. Saturday’s event raised $43,000, eclipsing last year’s total by $12,000. All proceeds benefit the National Brain Tumor Society and Brain Tumor Research at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The Mary Kline Classic has grown tremendously since its establishment in November 2010, as it is attended by many fans and media members each year, and is sponsored by numerous companies including Gatorade and Nike. Alex Kline is proud of how much the event has grown in five years.
“It’s unbelievable.” I never thought it would get to where we are now. It gives me goosebumps. It’s an unbelievable feeling knowing how many people love and support this event.”
The evening started with statements from Kyle Atkinson, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Director of the Division of Neuro-Oncologic Neurosurgery and Stereotactic Radiosurgery David Andrews, and Alex Kline. Atkinson is a cancer survivor, who after having two brain surgeries, rehabbing, undergoing therapy, and walking with the aid of a walker and cane, is looking to walk-on to Portland State University’s basketball team this fall.
After the opening statements, the underclassmen took the floor. The game featured several players from New Jersey including Seton Hall Prep’s Temple Gibbs, The Patrick School’s Nicholas Richards, and Breein Tyree from St. Joseph’s (Metuchen). Unique McLean from the MacDuffie School in Massachusetts returned to participate in his second Mary Kline Classic.
Team Bravery led Team Inspiration 64 to 58 at halftime. McLean had 14 points in the first half for Team Inspiration. Team Bravery was kept its lead, defeating Team Inspiration by a score of 139 to 132. Team Inspiration’s Curtis Jones from Huntington Prep in West Virginia and Team Bravery’s Chris Lykes from Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C. took MVP honors in the Underclassmen game. Jones led all scorers with 30 points and Lykes scored 18 points. Many other players put up great performances, as Mamadou Diarra from Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut scored 20 points for Team Bravery, Michael Porter, Jr. from Tolton Catholic in Maryland scored 19 points for Bravery, and Bruce Brown from Vermont Academy scored 26 for Team Inspiration.
After the underclassmen game, Billy Diamond, who was one of three coaches of team Bravery, addressed the crowd, urging fans to donate. Diamond mentioned that one in four people are diagnosed with cancer, which is why fighting the disease is important.
The underclassmen game was followed by the three point contest. The participants in the three point contest were Iona Prep’s Matt Ryan and Ty Jerome, St. Thomas More’s (CT) Steve Enoch, Northfield Mount Hermon’s (MA) Aaron Falzon, DeMatha Catholic’s (MD) D.J. Harvey, Archbishop Stepinac’s (NY) Jordan Tucker, L.C. Bird’s (VA) Kenny Williams, and Lawrence Central’s (IN) Kyle Guy.
Iona Prep teammates Matt Ryan and Ty Jerome made it to the three point contest final round. After each player scored 14, a tiebreaker round was played. Jerome once again scored fourteen points, which bested Ryan’s ten and won the three point contest.
Following the three point contest was the dunk contest. A camera was attached to the side of the backboard to capture all of the high-flying action. The dunk contest featured Breein Tyree, Prince Ali, Davon Dillard, Josh Sharma, Chris Silva, and Rayjon Tucker. Derrick Jones and Unique McLean also participated for the second year in a row. Jones won the dunk contest, earning two perfect scores of 70 in three rounds from a star studded judge panel. Jones scored a 70 in the final round after dunking over four players to beat Breein Tyree’s score of 64.
Jones put up a great performance in the senior game after the dunk contest, as he shared MVP honors with Prince Ali from the Sagemont School in Florida. Ali’s scoring helped Team Perseverance defeat Team Courage 116 to 112 in a close game. Northfield Mountn Hermon’s Josh Sharma had a good defensive game as the seven footer blocked shots and collected a lot of rebounds.
After a night of exciting basketball and successful fundraising, Kline is already looking to next year.
“Our goal for next year is to continue growing it and continue to make people realize that they can make a difference and change the lives of others. In hearing the stories of cancer research and how it impact others, my goal is simply to raise more and hopefully find a cure for cancer.”