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Lower Merion’s 12th annual Maroon Madness fills Bryant Gymnasium

Ardmore – It was two hours of non-stop excitement for the Lower Merion students who packed the Bryant Gymnasium Friday night for the 12th annual Maroon Madness/Light the Night event Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, the kickoff to the Aces’ 2016 basketball season.

After an opening video and introductions to the Lower Merion basketball squads, St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball coach Phil Martelli and Villanova center Darryl Reynolds (a Lower Merion alum) talked to the crowd. Reynolds, accompanied by Wildcat teammates Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart, also was presented with a plaque containing his Lower Merion jersey.

Reynolds said, “Thank you so much, it’s unbelievable to come back here to this place on  a night like this, a night that’s so big for all of you, the beginning of the upcoming season. And it was just like this when I was here. I love you all.”

Lower Merion boys’ basketball head coach Gregg Downer, who was at the NCAA championship final in Houston when Villanova won it all last April, told the crowd, “The post-game hug I got from Darryl, one of my favorite players, is one of the highlights of my long coaching career.”

Reynolds, along with Downer, former Lower Merion hoopster BJ Johnson and LM girls’ basketball head coach Monique Boykins, were judges of a dunk contest performed by members of the current Lower Merion boys’ squad. The Lower Merion girls’ squad participated in a three-point contest that involved

Prior to the skill contests and the tip-off to the Maroon/White intrasquad basketball game, Martelli, the current chair of the National Coaches vs. Cancer Council, spoke to the crowd in the Bryant Gymnasium.

“We’re in the gym of champions – that’s where you are,” said Martelli. “When I think of those championships, I think of the way the [Lower Merion] players approach things, both on the court and all that they’re doing off the court. This [Lower Merion] student effort [for Coaches versus Cancer] is extraordinary and is to be copied all over the Delaware Valley.

“There are now 126 schools involved in the school initiative, raising money for Coaches versus Cancer. We’re not here to beat cancer, that’s not good enough anymore. We’re here to crush cancer. … See, cancer doesn’t have a day off, and it doesn’t care whether you go to Lower Merion High School or if you’re 60 years old and live in Philadelphia, or if you’re 6 years old and live in South Jersey.

“For the people involved [in this cause], I’m going to leave you with one thought – you’re a hero. A hero is an ordinary person who gets an extraordinary opportunity to help someone that they will never, ever meet. All the effort that you’re putting into [this cause] is not only helping them, but their families and friends and business associates as well. When you put your head on the pillow tonight, know that, in a Philadelphia way, you’ve done good.”

Other activities Friday night included an on-court tug-of-war contest, a Captains’ Crazy Race contested by captains of the Lower Merion winter sports teams, and a special performance by Lower Merion alum Wes Walker.

Lower Merion boys basketball players introduced included senior guards Najja Walker-X, Terrell Jones, Noah Fennell and Sean Ryan; senior forward Khadafy Bilal; junior guards Jared Robinson and Harrison Klevan; junior forwards Isaiah Morgan and Deion Davis; sophomore guards Darryl Taylor, Steve Payne, Matt O’Connor and Theo Henry; and sophomore forwards Joshua Martin and Jack Forrest.

Lower Merion girls basketball players introduced included senior forward Tess Weber; senior guard Sophia Goldstein; junior guards Evey Veguilla, Mary Pat Quinn, Sarah Fitzpatrick, Katie Berg, Sophie Riverso, Gabby Riverso and Emma Riverso; junior forwards Ashley Roberts, Izzy Meline and Bethany Eldridge; sophomore guard Rowan Hassman; and freshman guard Jasmine Forrester.


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