Shooting hoops

Klein, Horace Mann students are basketball champsPosted March 28, 2010

North Bergen and Guttenberg both had teams that were triumphant in the annual Elementary Basketball Championships run within both towns.
Guttenberg’s Anna L. Klein School is a K-8 school that is normally a powerhouse for basketball players. They once again won a championship when their boys basketball team prevailed against the Robert Fulton Wildhawks in North Bergen, 52-40.
“It was my first championship,” said Kelbin Batista, a small forward on the Klein Mustangs, last week. “We didn’t do so good in the last season, so we had payback.”
Klein’s Lady Mustangs also made it to the championships, but then lost to the Horace Mann Cougars of North Bergen by a score of 30-25.
“We are very proud of our student atheletes,” said Klein School Principal Pedro Garrido last week. “They don’t only perform on the athletic field, but in the classroom as well.”


“I knew somehow we would be able to pull it off.” – Kayla Johnson

Horace Mann Vice Principal Richard Locricchio also felt proud of his student athletes. The girls’ team, he said, was their “best team yet.” It was their first championship win in the annual tourney.

First to win

Ivana Negron, a guard, said that she and her Horace Mann teammates practiced almost every other day for months for this tournament and were proud to make history for their school.
“I knew we had a really good solid team and it showed,” said Negron, who was an all-tournament player, earning seven points during the game.
Her teammate, Alyssa Marrero, was the game’s MVP, earning 12 points and winning the pre-game three-point shoot-out.
Amber Antigua said that she calmed her nerves during the game by thinking about her team’s strengths, such as their defense strategies.
“Toward the fourth quarter [is when I knew we would win], when everyone showed heart and they brought their game and more,” said Houeide Jaafar, who said she had been waiting for the game since last year, when they lost in the playoffs.
“I was very nervous because the score was very close, but I knew somehow we would be able to pull it off,” said Kayla Johnson, a power forward and shooting guard.
Icies Hammer, another all-tournament player who earned seven points, said she was proud that they had won.
Horace Mann Coach Alex Pineda, who also teaches fifth grade, said that after working with the team for four years, he sees the school’s growth. When he first started, they had a losing streak, but now he sees the possibility for another win next year.
While Klein School lost the girls’ championships, center Stefany Corella and forward Jade Columbani were both all-tournament players, earning 11 and 8 points respectively.
“Even though we lost, we did try our best,” said Columbani.

Klein wins, again

Coach Mark Rogers, a Klein alum and student teacher, said that the boys’ team’s hard work culminated in their win.
“North Bergen always jokes that we have a class of basketball here, like it’s math or science,” said Rogers, referring to their many wins.
Justin Angarita was an all-tournament player, earning seven points for his team. He said that at first he was nervous because of the large crowd, but then he focused on the game and they were able to win.
MVP Nicholas Flores earned 24 points during the game.
“I remember in sixth grade I wasn’t allowed to play, but we won the championships and I was happy and I wanted to feel that feeling again in eighth grade,” said Flores, a point guard.
He said that while Fulton school never surpassed them in points, they came very close.
“We played a really good game, which is under control and smart,” said Rogers.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at

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