Sleepy Hollow Holiday Hoops Tournament Excites

by Kevin Brown

The 24th Annual Howard Godwin Memorial Tournament took place in December and this season, the excitement ratcheted up to a whole new level.

The tournament’s inception in 1992 was created by local residents Howard and Mimi Godwin as a way to showcase local basketball and school pride in a showcase tournament for both boys and girls varsity basketball. Howard Godwin, former President of the School Board, died in 2012. Mimi Godwin, continues to serve on the Board of Education as president and is actively involved in a host of activities that serve our community’s youth.

Currently, four local boys and girls varsity teams compete in a three-day tournament. This season, the excitement was amped up by the inclusion of Ossining in the boys’ bracket.

Sleepy Hollow Varsity girls led off the tournament with a convincing victory over Yonkers, 43-21. Coach Nick Romeo was excited to see his extremely young team come together. Vanessa Onwe, Captain, and Grace Chebetar are the only returning seniors with juniors and underclassmen filling the roster. “I am just going to try and get the best I can out of this inexperienced group of girls. If we play as a team we can be successful,” Coach Romeo conveyed.

But when the team took the floor for the championship game against a deeply talented and senior-laden Nyack team that had reached the finals by beating Mamaroneck, their inexperience showed as they were beaten 71-31. Onwe led the team with 24 points and 10 rebounds in two games, while talented Sophomore Gabby Delmonaco kicked in 11 points for the tournament.

On the boys’ side of the tournament, the Horsemen opened with a convincing victory over Tuckahoe. Senior Captains Gabe McGuire and Wendell Brand, along with Mike Morales, have been important contributors to Sleepy Hollow Basketball since they were sophomores and were looking forward to the tournament in their home gym. Brand, who ranks among the top guards in all of Section 1, was intense before the game. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. We are ready to go,” he said.

The Horsemen easily dispatched first round opponent Tuckahoe, 78-44 playing a well-balanced game that included contributions from all of the seniors and superb play by Juniors Andrew Laub, Harry Bogusz and Jack Starkey.

That set up a Saturday night gym date with rival Ossining. Ossining has a brilliant basketball pedigree as an AA squad with their past women’s teams having won the NY State Championship and their boys’ varsity team competing at an extremely high level. Just in warm-ups, their height, speed, and athleticism were on display. In the 15 years that this writer has followed Sleepy Hollow Basketball, I have never seen the gym so rocking! Both teams had their loyal fan bases cheering every shot, every whistle.

Also in the 15 years that this writer has covered Sleepy Hollow Basketball, I have never seen a team throw down repeated slam dunks as the Ossining squad did all night. The Horsemen lost 67-60 but they did themselves proud. Everyone contributed and each time the game distanced, another Horsemen stepped up with a big three point shot. At one point, Brand took over and willed the Horsemen to keep it close. In the end, Ossining was just too much. Coach Rob Starace said it best, “You can’t ask a team to play with more guts and determination than we did tonight. So proud of these guys and can’t wait to continue on with what I hope is a special season.”

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