Three years ago as freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Kelly Scott took the court or showed up at practice only with a sense of reluctance. Despite her skills, she felt that she couldn’t ignore one paramount obstacle: neither the Horace Mann School nor the Upper East Side is much of a breeding ground for Division I basketball players. As an un-recruited walk-on, she couldn’t help wondering if she was just wasting her time.
Then one of the team’s starters tore a knee ligament, and suddenly a spot in the starting lineup opened up for Scott.
“I guess it was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “Going into the season, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep doing this. Then I was given this opportunity, and since then I’ve been working as hard as I can to keep playing.”
Scott has been a regular in the team’s rotation ever since, always providing the sort of quiet contributions that recently earned her UPenn’s Unsung Heroine Award, which honors “accomplishments that do not necessarily show up in the statistics but contribute to the team’s success.” As a senior captain, she also won a prize for sportsmanship, loyalty and leadership. Scott started all 28 games this season, averaged 10.2 points and three rebounds and compiled 27 assists and 20 steals. She was also named to the Ivy League weekly honor roll three times
“Overall, I had a really fun season,” she said. “We didn’t have all the success we wanted to, but it was a good learning experience.”
With team basketball now behind her, Scott will focus on getting ready for medical school. But she still has time for games against an opponent much tougher than any conference rival—her older brother Will.
Will usually has the upper hand. He is, after all, the all-time leading scorer at Collegiate and a three-year member of the Louisville basketball team, a powerhouse program that has reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament the past two years. This year, he played in 21 games and averaged 4.5 minutes and 2.1 points for a team that finished 31-6.
“If we play one-on-one now, I have to make rules like he can’t block me and has to only shoot three-pointers,” Kelly said. “I don’t like to admit that, usually.”
For a city with plenty of roundball heritage, New York always has a lot of players in the collegiate ranks. And the East and West Sides held their own this year in terms of producing talent. At Monroe College, Regina Washington (Beacon) appeared in 28 games for a 31-2 team that reached the national junior college semifinals. She shot better than 40 percent from three-point range and finished with averages of 12.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.8 steals.
There were three other Beacon graduates playing college ball this winter. Janina Jurewicz-Johnson wrapped up her career at John Jay by playing in 25 games and starting 20. She averaged 4.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. Her younger brother Calvin totaled 18 points and 15 rebounds at Baruch for a team that went 23-6 and made the Division 3 NCAA Tournament. Drew’s Kathryn Kozma appeared in 12 games.
Monique Sampson (Cathedral) had a dominating season at Lehman. She started 21 games and helped steer her team to a 20-11 record and the CUNY Athletic Conference championship game by shooting .537 from the field and averaging 7.8 points and 10.3 rebounds. She also had 45 assists, 75 steals and 23 blocks.
There were excellent performers at other CUNY schools as well. Gary Brady (Martin Luther King Jr.) saw action in 24 games and started 15 for John Jay, averaging 7.1 points and 2.3 rebounds. Stephanie Herbert (Environmental Studies) and Julissa Blanco-Benedict (Norman Thomas) played for Medgar Evers, with the latter earning 25 points and 40 rebounds. York’s Monique Denson (Brandeis) started 14 games as a freshman and finished with 31 points, 48 rebounds, 19 assists and 11 steals.
Elsewhere in the city, Kelvin Valdez (St. Agnes) played in 18 games for St. Joseph’s Brooklyn. He averaged 7.6 minutes and had 36 points and 27 rebounds. And Yeshiva’s Tova Laufer (Ramaz) was named to the All-Hudson Valley Athletic Conference Team for the third straight year for starting 19 games and averaging 6.5 points and 9.2 rebounds. She also had 48 steals and 22 blocks and led the squad with 59 steals.
Three Collegiate alumni besides Will Scott played basketball this winter. Mike Nelson spent the season on the junior varsity squad at Williams. Middlebury’s Ashton Coghlan averaged 8.8 minutes and 2.8 points for a team that went 24-4 and won its conference tournament. At Skidmore, Matt Belsito played in seven games. His teammate Sam Cohen-Devries (LaGuardia) appeared in 20 contests and started three, averaging 14.7 minutes, 3.7 points and 3.4 rebounds with 22 assists.
Molloy’s Matt Wafula (St. Agnes) started eight games and averaged 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting .447. He also had 15 blocks and 23 steals. Miranda Arthur-Smith (Churchill) played 25 games for SUNY-Purchase and averaged three points and 2.2 rebounds. Another Churchill graduate, Forrest Alvarez-Ringer, started 10 games at Bard, averaging 20.1 minutes, 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Brendan Barile (Horace Mann) appeared in eight games for Stevens Institute.
Finally, two Regis alumni had solid seasons. Matt Galvin started 13 games for Tufts and averaged five points and 2.3 rebounds while leading the team with 67 assists. Sean O’Connor played in 18 games at Johns Hopkins, while his teammate Josh DeLott (Trinity) appeared in two fewer but had 25 points and 16 rebounds.
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