WAYNE, NJ – The Wayne Valley Indians Unified Sports League basketball team hosted Wayne Hills and West Milford on Wednesday for a round robin of three games. Unified Sports combine General Education and Special Education students together on the same team competing in a league that is slowly growing.
Three games took place in a round robin format. The first game was the premier match up as the ongoing rivalry between Hills and Valley continued. Because of time constraints and the multiple games being played, each game was only sixteen minutes long with two eight-minute halves.
Hills took the lead early on 2-0, stretching it to 4-0 before Valley’s McKenzy Casey drained a shot from ten feet. Not long after, Oliva Burcino scored from under the rim to tie it up 4-4. The first half ended in a 6-6 tie
After the restart of the game, both teams heated up, with both teams more than doubling their points total in the first half. Valley’s Patrick Arias scored eight of his team’s fourteen total points. Arias also played an aggressive defensive game with several steals and rebounds.
The game went back and forth with Hills taking a four point lead before Valley again came back. The final score was 14-14 reflecting how close their first match up was.
“I knew practicing hard this week would pay off, and it did,” said Arias with a big grin after the game. “I feel beautiful. I feel happy!”
Patrick’s enthusiasm for the sport and his competitive spirit was clearly shown during the game.
“He looks forward to this every Tuesday and he really gets involved,” said Patrick’s Mom, Lisa.
Bruscino’s Mom, Heidi said: “There are not many opportunities for her in active sports, so it’s just wonderful. The camaraderie is wonderful. She’s just having fun and she is so proud of herself.”
“This is my first time watching her play,” said Ellyn Casey who had missed her daughter McKenzy’s first game because of school. “It’s a really big deal. I’m thrilled for all of them. I’ve seen the whole team grow up since they were babies, so this is great to watch.”
The coaches for the Valley team are teachers Meredith McCambley and Jennifer “Morris” Ferrer.
“It’s been incredible,” said McCambley. “The students are so excited, and they’ve really grown as players over the season. Everyone’s having fun.”
Ferrer added: “The team we have is awesome. They really help each other and get along with each other, and it makes this very special.”
Valley Senior Arden Lembryk who is also a captain of the Girls varsity soccer team takes these games seriously. “In the first game, we didn’t know how it was going to go, but since then, we really got better.” She added how much she enjoyed playing in the league: “This is fun. Its exciting!”
For player Jenna Vanas, she feels that the experience has helped fill a gap between the different students. “This has really helped build some good friendships, where that opportunity might not have been there before this league happened.”
The Wayne teams proved superior with both teams defeating West Milford in the later games.