Roselle Catholic girls’ basketball travels north to face familiar coach and visit historic ball park


Roselle Catholic and Needham (Mass.) High School girls basketball players enjoyed a post-game lunch together in the Needham cafeteria on Sunday (Jan. 15th).

Roselle Catholic coaches surround Needham HS head coach — and RC graduate (’06) Amanda Sheehey. From left, Tim Hagan, Charlie Wischusen, Amanda Sheehy, Joe Skrec, E.J. Vaughn and Dennis Quigley.

On Tour of Fenway Park.

RC GBB players and coaches, surrounding a sit-by-me statue of Hall of Famer Red Auerbach on the south side of Quincy Market at Fenueil Hall in downtown Boston.

Frozen Fenway — hockey rink on the diamond for college hockey games on Jan. 14.

RC GBB pre-game, getting ready to play Needham HS.

RC Girls basketball team with “A.J.” on the eastern end of Quincy Market near State Street in Faneuil Hall.

The initial destination for the Roselle Catholic girls’ basketball team’s first out-of-state, overnight journey during the winter high school season was nowhere near an indoor court, but inside a legendary baseball shrine with a hockey rink on the grass.
The RC Lions scheduled a not-around-the-corner game at Needham (Mass.) High School – coached by RC graduate (2006) Amanda Sheehy – for Jan. 15, making the same trek Needham HS and Coach Sheehy made to Union County in 2016.
Roselle Catholic’s varsity girls’ team has played across state lines before, competing at Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran High School the previous two seasons, but this would be the first time female basketball players from RC needed to pack an overnight bag during the school year. The Lions have traveled out of state for a weekend camp on a college campus each of the previous four summers.
The RC girls’ basketball contingent – 10 players, six relatives, five coaches, and a scorekeeper – boarded an incredibly comfortable Passaic Valley coach bus shortly after 6:00 AM on Jan. 14. By the time most of the girls woke up for the first time since leaving Raritan Road in Roselle, Mr. Duke, our all-star bus driver, smoothly parked the big, luxury vehicle on the corner of Van Ness Street and Yawkey Way, just a few feet away from Fenway Park.
Our 11:30 tour started a few minutes early and the basketball-playing student-athletes spent the next 60 minutes hearing stories, and learning, about Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, David Ortiz, “Big Papi,” and a few other Boston Red Sox legends.
We enter Fenway and walk toward home plate in 30 degree conditions made bearable by the shining sun. The walking tour guide took breaks at several prime locations in the ballpark, including the left field line, where the Green Monster (37 feet, two inches tall) seemed like just a short basketball pass away from us. We sat in the ultra-popular Green Monster seats, walked around the upper deck and eventually complete the tour in right field, where we have a clear view of Fenway’s famous Red Seat, the landing spot of a 502-foot homer Ted Williams hit in 1946.
We concluded our tour with a few more photos, including one with the tour guide, Frank, who called us his “best” 11:30 audience of the day.
“Even though I’m not a big baseball fan my favorite part was learning about all the history at Fenway Park,” said RC junior point guard Tyara McQueen.
“I learned a lot about baseball,” said sophomore starter Taniya Hanner.
The Lions learned a little bit more about downtown Boston, and continued to see New England Patriots gear everywhere, with a stop at Faneuil Hall Maketplace, just steps away from the waterfront.
A marketplace and a meeting hall since 1743, according to Wikipedia, Faneuil Hall was site of several speeches encouraging independence and is how part of Boston National Historical Park and a well-known stop on the Freedom Trail. Quincy Market, a historic complex near Feneuil Hall, is another tourist attraction the Lions are able to visit.
Before traveling to the team hotel – via Boston’s subway system, known as the “T” – the team gathers photos for photos with statues of two Boston basketball icons that most teenagers not from New England might not be familiar with: Arnold “Red” Auerbach and Bill Russell, whose statue is located at Boston’s City Hall Plaza, just steps from Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.
The statue of Auerbach, located on the south side of Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall, depicts Auerbach courtside, about to light a victory cigar. Most of the RC girls, after being told a little bit about Red Auerbach’s legend, rub the statue for good luck.
The ride on the “T” went smoothly and left the team with about a 10-minute walk from its hotel, which gave the Roselle Catholic traveling party approximately an hour to get ready before departing for its dinner reservation at 99, a chain of family restaurants in New England.
“My favorite part of the weekend was the free time we got,” said sophomore manager Colleen Badalis, who made the trip despite a foot injury. “It was nice for all of the girls to just spend time together as a team.”
One of the highlights of the team meal – which received rave reviews from the RC food critics for both how delicious it tasted and quickly it was served –singing of Happy Birthday by the RC contingent, led by the student-athletes, to RC junior varsity coach Dennis Quigley, who celebrated a milestone b-day 24 hours earlier and enjoyed a birthday sundae at the restaurant.
“The highlight of the weekend was the team bonding,” said senior co-captain Aanisah Moorer. “We did absolutely everything together and I felt as though it brought us even closer to one another … Going to Massachusetts was a very good idea. It was a great experience.”
Roselle Catholic girls’ basketball returned to the Holiday Inn Express and the girls are told meet at 8:30 am for breakfast (bags packed) with a 10 o’clock departure time for Needham High School. It’s a happy night in New England as the Patriots roll past the Houston Texans in prime time, and about 30 miles from our hotel, 34-16, in an AFC Divisional Round game. The most significant athletic event to the Roselle Catholic girls basketball team tips off in a little more than 12 hours.
It’s about 30 minutes until the start of the game, which will feature a 30-second shot clock, when I hear something from an opposing coach for the first time in my 21 seasons at the helm of the RC girls’ basketball team. A friendly hand adjusts the collar on my Roselle Catholic polo near mid-court. “Ten years later and I’m still helping you clean up,” the Needham HS head coach said to me as we each get ready to bring our teams into the locker room for final pre-game instructions.
The Roselle Catholic players received defensive assignments, keys to the game are reinforced and the Lions are repeatedly reminded about how hard the Needham Rockets are expected to compete, a reflection of their coach, Amanda Sheehy, who was a starting guard as a ninth grader on RC’s 2003 Union County Tournament championship team, the first in program history. She also started on the 2005 Parochial A North title team that lost to powerhouse St. John Vianney of Holmdel in the state final in Toms River.
Roselle Catholic, led by 17 points from senior Jennifer McClave and 14 from Tyara McQueen (three three-pointers), registered a 54-32 victory against Needham, which was playing for the first time after a starting forward was injured on Friday night. Five other RC girls scored in the game – Taniya Hanner (10 points), Victoria Jacobs (five), Jenissa Encarnacion (four) and Taniya Hanner (four) – won for the seventh time in nine games. All of the Lions received significant time on the court, including Moorer, a senior, and Princess Moise and LaToya Alexander, both of whom split time with the varsity and JV.
The RC girls appear to enjoy the post-game spread in the cafeteria – arranged by Needham HS parents and catered by Chipotle – almost as much as the game, maybe more.
With both teams sitting at tables in the cafeteria, Amanda Sheehy addresses the RC girls and tells them how much she relished her days as a Lion and the significant and positive influence Roselle Catholic played in her future, which included a basketball career at Assumption College.
She encouraged the current Lions to work hard to overcome the obstacles and adversity associated with a scholastic sports season.
Coach Sheehy poses for a photo with the RC coaches, including Coach Skrec, Coach Wischusen, Coach Hagan, Coach Vaughn, Coach Hagan and Coach Quigley, before the two teams get together for snapshot. The final photo for the Lions is a request from the bus driver, Duke, who nimbly jumps in front of a team smiling brightly.
“I enjoyed going to Massachusetts with my teammates because we got to do something as a team outside of school and the gym,” said senior co-captain Jennifer McClave.
With Duke behind the wheel of the comfortable coach bus, it’s a smooth ride back to New Jersey and the 908. A little more than 36 hours after it began, the Roselle Catholic girls’ basketball team’s excellent adventure to Boston is over.
“My favorite part of the amazing trip was being able to enjoy everything with my teammates,” said senior Tiara Acevedo. “I think everything was my favorite part because I enjoyed the whole trip.”