It might have just been five days later, but St. Elizabeth standout basketball player Jocelyn Rodriguez experienced a completely different feeling at the Bob Carpenter Center on Saturday afternoon.
Rodriguez was the toast of the state last Monday as she led the Vikings past Caravel in the championship game of the DIAA Girls Basketball Tournament.
However, on Saturday, Rodriguez was one of 60 high school seniors from around the state who took the floor for the 14th annual BlueGold Boys and Girls High School Basketball Games, the sentimental final contests of their prep careers.
“It still feels great,” Rodriguez said. “Just being at the [Carpenter Center] kind of just reminds me of [Monday] night, but it’s a different atmosphere because now I’m playing with the girls we played against when we won the state championship.”
All of the players appeared to enjoy their final high school basketball experiences.
The Gold girls team, comprised mostly by downstate teams, got things started by defeating the Blue, 65-58. Smyrna’s Brionna Johnson led all scorers with 14 points and eight rebounds, and Seaford’s La’Shyra Williams and Dover’s Antonia Johnson added 10 points apiece.
“It was a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “The atmosphere was even better. I felt like I represented my school and public schools well, because sometimes I don’t think the public schools get the kind of recognition that they deserve.”
Rodriguez scored 11 points and Sanford’s Johanna McMillan chipped in with 10 points for the Blue. Despite being on the losing side, Rodriguez enjoyed the experience.
“It was cool to be with everyone that we competed against and to finally play with the best players in the state. I enjoyed myself,” she said.
Some players for the Philadelphia Eagles excited the crowd by participating in a charity basketball game against local celebrities before the high school boys all-stars took to the court.
It was a relentless display of offense among the high-flying boys as the Blue team held off the Gold, 107-101. Malcolm Delpeche, of Wilmington Friends, scored 16 points, Sanford’s Kyle Rose had 15 points and A.I. du Pont’s Braxton Watson added 10 points for the Blue.
Middletown’s Sardayah Sambo scored an afternoon-high 20 points, Hodgson’s Nick Richards hit for 16 points, Indian River’s Marquel Knight scored 11 and Polytech’s Antonio DePina added 10 for the Gold.
The BlueGold All-Star games benefited Best Buddies Delaware, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Jerry Kobasa, a longtime high school coach who is head men’s basketball coach at Wesley College, was inducted into the BlueGold Basketball Hall of Fame at a banquet on Thursday evening at the Dover Downs Hotel & Conference Center.
Dean Linda Ammons, of Widener Law School, was presented with the BlueGold 2013 Community Leadership Award on Saturday.
By the time all of the excitement dwindled down Saturday, the players were just about spent. But the buddies, Appoquinimink’s Lauren Mischler (girls) and Buddy Schwar (boys) of the Gold and Brandywine’s Cristina Daily (girls) and Kendall Scott (boys) of the Blue certainly had some memories to cherish.
“Now it’s kind of sinking in that [my high school career] is over, and it’s kind of sad,” Rodriguez said.