Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Gianna DeRosa of Fantastic Sam's Foxes, right, drives around Emma Gomez of Tracee's Salon Pugs, left, for a layup during the Wishful Thinking Summer Rec League girls division championship game Monday at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff The Fantastic Sam's Foxes are pictured after winnings the Wishful Thinking Summer Rec League girls division championship game Monday at Lynch Literacy Academy. Front row, left to right: Tamia Walker, Gianna DeRosa, Francesca DeRosa. Top row, left to right: Assistant coach Clyde Clymer, Jackie Stanavich, Charlie Beekman, Mianna Jackson, Emily Schaufelberg, head coach Tricia Altieri.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Peyton Ausfeld of St. Mary's Sting Rays, right, dribbles around Hunter Baker of Mingo's Movers Novas during the Wishful Thinking Summer Rec League middle school boys division championship game Monday at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Trevor Junquera/Recorder staff Anferny Aponte shoots a free throw Monday night at Lynch Literacy Academy.
By ADAM SHINDER
The hundreds-strong crowd that ringed the court Monday night for the championship games of the Wishful Thinking Foundation's 2014 summer recreational basketball league certainly got a show under the lights at Lynch Literacy Academy -- courtesy of Anferny Aponte and Keyshawn Arnold.
In an incredible scoring duel in the high school boys division championship game, Aponte slashed and shot his way to an absurd 51-point night, and while the smooth-shooting Arnold scored a paltry 29 points in comparison, 19 of them came in the second half as Arnold's Country Feed Mad Dogs rallied for a wild, 67-63 victory over Aponte's Harkins Family Braydens Bulldogs team.
The end-to-end action and the wildly enthusiastic crowd left a miles-wide smile on the face of Wishful Thinking co-founder T.J. Czeski.
"It kind of reminds me, especially tonight, of a New York City vibe," Czeski said. "Like somewhere down where basketball started, the mecca in New York City."
Championships were also decided in the girls and middle school boys divisions Monday night, with the Fantastic Sam's Foxes beating Tracee's Salon Pugs, 35-21, in the girls championship game and the St. Mary's Sting Rays scoring a 40-32 win over the Mingo's Movers Novas in the middle school boys title tilt.
The main event, however, was the freewheeling, explosive clash between Harkins Family and Country Feed that saw the Mad Dogs come out the winner, even though Aponte stole the show with a masterful individual effort. Aponte scored 29 of his 51 points in the first half as Harkins Family opened up a 37-31 lead at the break, and after Country Feed charged ahead in the second half, Aponte pulled his team right back into the game with a series of drives and putbacks that was punctuated by a top-of-the-key 3-pointer with 10 seconds left that pulled Harkins Family within a point, though three free throws in the closing moments sealed the deal for Country Feed.
"I had to do it for my team," Aponte said.
However, for all of Aponte's scoring exploits, Arnold -- who was named the league's most valuable player Monday -- sparked Country Feed's second-half surge that saw them open the half with an 18-3 run and hold on down the stretch, with the win finally being sealed on a turnover in the final seconds when Harkins Family's James Valentin was ruled to have crossed the baseline before he inbounded the ball to Aponte.
Country Feed featured several high school standouts from throughout the area, included Gloversville's Arnold and Fonda-Fultonville's Will Turner. Monday, Country Feed coach Michael Hanna credited Arnold with willing the team to a title.
"Keyshawn's a gem," Hanna said. "I knew him from the Gloversville Dragons, and I said, 'Yo, kid, I need you on my team.' He came through for me. My team is made up of basketball players -- Fonda, Gloversville and Amsterdam."
Earlier Monday, the St. Mary's Sting Rays led wire-to-wire in the middle school boys championship game. Trey Ausfeld and Jaden Fallen combined for 24 points in the 40-32 win, offsetting 13 points from Mingo's Movers' Louis Fedullo.
In the opening game, Gianna DeRosa put on a show of her own for the Fantastic Sam's Foxes, slashing her way to a game-high 20 points in her team's 35-21 win over the Tracee's Salon Pugs.
"Gianna, she played great all season," said Fantastic Sam's coach Tricia Altieri.
In total, Czeski said the community's response to the second season of Wishful Thinking's summer rec league was phenomenal. After the 2013 season featured 12 teams and about 125 players, this year the numbers skyrocketed to more than 25 teams and 300-plus players -- with the high school division featuring players from across Montgomery and Fulton counties -- with large, energetic crowds packing the Lynch court on a regular basis.
"It just shows that the city needs something for kids to do, and kids want to do something," Czeski said. "It's great to help the kids out, but as much as we help the kids out, the kids want to come and help out as well."
"I'd love to do this all year round," he added.
Follow ADAM SHINDER on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderShinder