Team Mandell Conquers Rec March Madness in Dramatic Fashion


By: Thomas Nealon

Last week the recreational basketball league’s season concluded with a dramatic double elimination tournament, as 16 teams competed for the ultimate prized possession: a rec basketball title.

This year, it was Team Mandell who cut down the nets in the Staples fieldhouse, as the four seed was able to knock off the six seed, Team O’Neil, in the finals last Thurs. March 17 by the score of 15-6.

“I can personally say that winning the rec tournament this year was one of my best accomplishments throughout my four years of high school,” point guard and leader, Cayne Mandell ’17, said proudly. “I have been playing rec since I was in first grade, and this might be the last time any of us ever play competitive basketball, so to go out on top is truly a remarkable feeling.”

Although Mandell and his teammates were the eventual champions, the road to success was filled with many challenging adversaries. This year’s rec march madness tournament was not won with ease, as it offered a plethora of exciting games and dramatic upsets over the two week period.

Team Mandell struggled the first night and fell to Team Zinn in the second round. But Team Mandell rallied and utilized the tournament’s double elimination to win seven games in a row, knocking off respected opponents O’Donnell, Zinn, Wick and Daniels in the process.

Team O’Neil made it to the championship match-up unscathed. Head coach Glenn O’Neil, who has been coaching rec basketball in Westport for 11 years, helped lead the team to upset wins over a physical Team Ross and the overall favorite and regular season champion Team Daniels.

“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching so many of the current seniors in various sports throughout the years,” O’Neill said, “but I have never had as much fun as I did running the table with the boys that first night. It was amazing and one of my most memorable coaching moments that I will cherish forever.”

Team O’Neil secured a spot in the championship after the first night, but fell to Team Mandell in back to back games to ultimately be eliminated.

“Although I’m not the biggest fan of basketball, watching from the sidelines was extremely entertaining,” Zak Ahmad ’17, said. “Rec basketball, especially the tournament, is so unpredictable that there are no true favorites. That’s why it is so fun.”

Recreational basketball in Westport nurtures the competitive spirit within Staples in a fun and unique way. For many seniors, this was the last time they will experience this kind of unique atmosphere in a recreational sport before college.

“I’m really going to miss the Tuesday and Thursday nights spent playing rec basketball,” Mandell said. “To all of the juniors and sophomores and even the freshman, enjoy it and cherish it because I can promise you that you will miss it when it’s all over.”