The Bronx was electrified once again by the ‘School on the Grand Concourse’.
Cardinal Hayes High School’s basketball team’s final home game of the regular season on Friday, February 2 was a picture perfect ending for the school’s graduating athletes.
While the clock counted down to the final buzzer for these upperclassmen, the hoopsters took time to reflect on their high school careers and their future.
“It’s the last home game I’ll ever play in this building,” said 17-year-old Terry Dawkins as he glanced around the gymnasium.
“I’ve learned and want others to know Cardinal Hayes and its spirit will never end.”
Since the school’s founding in 1941, Cardinal Hayes Varsity Basketball team has known only three head coaches, who’ve helped lead the school to multiple city championships.
That’s great news for school notoriety, but more importantly, the biggest success is what these high school players take with them.
“I’m excited just to know that I made it to senior year,” said Tyrese Williams who already signed a commitment to play basketball at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut on a scholarship.
“To know that all my hard work didn’t go to waste and that my parents don’t have to pay for college. It’s a real stress reliever.”
Athletics aside, many of the seniors have dreams of pursuing careers in law, like 18-year-old Jontai Williams, in the medical profession like 17-year-old Michael Richardson and even in the business world like 17-year-old Austin Torres.
“A lot of people told me I wouldn’t play high school basketball, so I’m very grateful and honored,” said Torres, one of the team’s student managers who played his first varsity game on Senior Night.
“Never stop, always work hard, and never give up on your dreams.”
While crowds of fellow students, family, and friends cheered for the graduating seniors as they received roses and recognition for their high school tenure, fellow teammates beamed with joy at the success their Cardinal Hayes brothers had over the last four years.
The evening, which brought a 76-68 Senior Night win over Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, also brought Cardinal Hayes basketball alumni back for a special recognition.
Among those who joined in on the festivities was former NBA player Gerry Ward, who helped unveil the school’s 1,000-Point Scorers Banner and an NBA professional alumni banner.
“It’s great coming back here. It’s a place that set off my career as a man, as a player, and as a businessperson, so I owe a lot to Cardinal Hayes,” said Ward, who was no stranger to the school, visiting almost every week to help Hayes’ coaching staff after he retired from his professional career. “The message I have for these kids is pursue education.”
“Basketball is a tool for some of them to go to certain colleges, but they can still pursue education.”
Other names appearing on the NBA Players Banner included former stars, Kevin Loughery, who graduated from CHHS in 1957 and Jamal ‘Monster Mash’ Mashburn who is a 1990 graduate.