WEST ORANGE, NJ -- The New Jersey Jr. Nets wheelchair basketball team visited Liberty Middle School on April 1 for a “Basketball on Wheels” Exhibition night to raise funds for the West Orange Scholarship Fund.
“Despite the heavy downpour of rain, we had many spectators, and we raised over $900 for the WOSF,” said West Orange PTA Council President Tim Carter. He also noted that in addition to playing in the exhibition, the WOFD also brought a “generous donation”.
The event consisted of multiple wheelchair basketball games between the Nets and local West Orange teams including the West Orange Fire Department, the West Orange High School Coaching Staff, and West Orange PTA members and families. It also included a halftime performance by the Concepts in Choreography Dance Company, led by artistic director Debbie Rembert, face and nail painting and music by local DJs.
Carter said, “We have approximately fifty players in total. The most important part of preparation was reaching out to the community .”
None of the West Orange teams had played in wheelchairs before. To even the playing field, the Jr. Nets spotted each team a ten-point lead before every game. That did not slow the Jr. Nets down in showing their skills, as they tied the first game with the Fire Department 10-10, defeated the WOHS Coaching Staff 28-22, and surpassed the PTA 40-36.
The coaches came in with a strategy. “We prepared by deciding [on] a zone defense because none of us are skilled enough to take these guys on offense,” said WOHS English teacher and Coach Jesse Aporta. “Our defense is pretty solid, though.”
“It’s great that the PTA, fire department, and the West Orange High School coaches are willing to donate their time to this event,” said West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi. “Events like this are a great way to raise money for the community. It’s amazing that this team was kind enough to help us out.”
Carter said some members of the local exhibition teams are already looking forward to a next event. “I think they were very touched by meeting the New Jersey Jr. Nets players and I heard they'd love to play again,” he said.
For more information on the National Wheelchair Basketball Association and New Jersey Jr. Nets, visit www.nwba.org.