BY: Liliana Rocio, Senior Editor For World Liberty TV
The City University of New York Athletic Conference, along with US Army ROTC, hosted the CUNYAC Basketball All-Star Luncheon on Thursday, February 16th, to celebrate the beginning of the 52nd Annual CUNYAC Basketball Championships, as well as honor its All-Stars, at The Water Club in Manhattan.
Commissioner Zak Ivkovic began the luncheon with an opening speech and introduced CUNY Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Christopher Rosa who welcomed all in attendance.
Following Rosa was CUNY Army ROTC’s own Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Toner. Toner spoke about the benefits of joining the Army ROTC team and the CUNY student-athlete’s ability to manage all the responsibility that presents itself when participating in college athletics.
In addition, the CUNYAC presented former CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Allan Dobrin, with the Ellis Bullock Award for his lifetime of serving CUNY students and student-athletes at the highest level.
48 senior college and community college student-athletes and four coaches learned that they were selected to receive regular season awards.
The Community College awards were spread out rather evenly. On the men’s side, Jemal Smith of Hostos was named the Player of The Year. LaGuardia’s’ head coach, Ben Chobhaphand, was named the CUNYAC Men’s Community College Coach of the Year. Terrell Fullerton of BMCC was named Rookie of the Year. QCC Tigers’ Kavon McDonald was named the Burt Beagle Sportsmanship award winner. The eight players named to the All Conference team were Jericho Cherisma of BMCC, Richard Lue of the Bronx. Vakas Iqbal and Kevin Cox of Kingsborough, George Pena and Mahlik Sherlock of LaGuardia, Jonathan Loria of Hostos, and Brandon Segar of Queensborough CC.
For the women, Destini Green of Hostos received Player of the Year accolades while her teammate, Cashmir Fulcher, was named the top Rookie for this season. Hostos’ DeVernie Winston was selected as Coach of the Year following their remarkable season, and Kingsborough’s Ardita Shaptafovic was named the Burt Beagle Sportsmanship winner.
There were also eight women who were named to the All-Conference Team, representing five different schools. Keeshell Garrett from Bronx. Ashley Brooks, Natalija Dubrovina, and Nikola Zilakova of BMCC, Janae Gibson and Briana Johnson of LaGuardia, Pamela Suarez of Hostos, and Ardita Shaptafovic of Kingsborough.
On the senior college side, earning Coach of the Year honors for the women was Tim Shanahan of CSI, while Player of the Year honors went to Christina Pasaturo of CSI. 2016-17’s Rookie of the Year award went to Theresa Leung of Hunter. Tiffany Ruiz of Brooklyn was awarded the Burt Beagle Sportsmanship winner.
Following the major award winners were the respective all-star teams. The First Team All-Stars were Veronica Ganzi of Baruch, Olivia Colbert from Brooklyn College, Hunter’s Jade Aponte, and the Lehman duo of Amely Del Rosario and Lynda Fields.
Rounding out the senior college women was the Second Team All Stars. Baruch’s Kristen Podlovits, Brooklyn’s Karen Mak, Lehman’s Krystal Pearson, and the CSI tandem of Victoria Crea and Samantha Flecker.
The final group of award winners were the senior college men’s basketball all-stars. CSI head coach Tony Petosa took home the hardware as Coach of the Year. Player of the Year accolades went to his star guard, Frank Schettino. Rookie of the Year went to John Jay’s Wyatt Harkins and the Burt Beagle Sportsmanship Award went to Baruch’s Dwayne Brydie.
This season’s First Team All-Stars were Baruch’s Chimaechi Ekeugbor, CCNY’s Khalil Hamer, CSI’s Khaleeq Baum, Essien Epps from John Jay, and Lehman’s own Damian Bellamy.
The Second Team All-Stars were lead by Brooklyn’s Enees Nikovic, CCNY’s Robbie Dionisio, CSI’s Kevon Murphy, Hunter’s Matt Franks, and Lehman’s Andrew Utate.
The luncheon acts as a prelude each year to the Community College Finals and the beginning of the senior college tournament, which kicks off with the Men’s quarterfinals on Saturday, February 18th and the Women’s quarterfinals on Sunday, February 19th.
The Community College Finals will take place on Friday, February 17th with the women’s game at 6:00pm and the men’s game at 8:30pm. On the women’s side, the #1 seed Hostos Caimans look to cap off a strong season by facing off with the #2 BMCC Panthers. On the men’s side, the #1 seed LaGuardia Red Hawks will take on #3 seed BMCC Panthers.
The Four-Year College Championships will begin with the women’s and men’s first round at the higher seeds on Thursday, February 16th, and Friday, February 17th respectively. The winners will then head to the three and four seeds to play in the second round. The men’s games will take place on Saturday, February 18th, and the women’s will take place on Sunday, February 19th. The women’s semifinal games will be played at CCNY on Tuesday, February 21st at 6:00pm and 8:00pm, followed by the men’s semifinals the next day at the same times, also at CCNY. The finals will take place on Friday, February 24th at 6:00pm and 8:30pm with the winners earning automatic bids into the NCAA Tournament. ESPN3 will produce and televise the Four-Year College Finals which will be live streamed on watchespn.com and the WatchESPN app.
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