March 28, 2012

All Star Basketball & remembering Charlie Wood

Sports Columnist

On Saturday the 12th annual All Star Saturday will take place at the Intermediate School in Ocean City. The all star games between Cape-Atlantic League seniors have actually been played 21 times, starting in 1989 as a memorial to Dixie Howell.

The early games were held in Vineland, at Holy Spirit and at the Ocean City Intermediate School. In the last 11 years, All Star Saturday has been held at Wildwood High School, the Ventnor Education Community Complex and, for the last seven years, at Ocean City High School.

But OCHS is Legally Blonde this weekend and was not available. So, the event returns to one of its earlier locations.

There is something else different about this weekend’s All Star Saturday.

Because the CAL changed to a three-conference alignment this season there is no clear two-way separation of teams, like the American vs National over the previous 21 contests. So, All Star Saturday borrowed from the NHL, using the coaches whose teams reached the CAL Championship Games to draft the teams.

So, the boys game will be Team (Gene) Allen vs Team (Tom) Feraco and the girls game will match Team (Steve) DiPatri against Team (Paul) Baruffi. Each head coach will be assisted by the two other CAL Tournament coaches who were in their bracket.

That format also created three situations that have never happened in the previous 21 games – high school teammates will be playing against each other.

Ocean City’s Matt Bosch and Chris Turner will be on opposite teams, Turner playing for Gene Allen and Bosch for Tom Feraco. Also, Sacred Heart's Dustin Graiff and Jeff Rochetti are on opposite teams and so are Marco Hernandez-Colon and Andrew Ordille of St. Joseph.

The traditional three-point shootouts for both boys and girls are now the Beth Hartman Memorial Shootouts and each winner will receive both a trophy and a $100 scholarship from the Hartman family and the Beth Hartman Memorial Scholarship Fund. As a Holy Spirit player in 1996, Hartman finished second in the CAL three-point shootout.

The high school games begin at 4:15 with the Just Four Wheels Girls Classic. The Ocean City Home Bank Dixie Howell Boys Classic will follow. But, earlier in the day, the top eighth graders will play in two games starting at 11 a.m.

These games, sponsored by At The Top Basketball Camps, are always fun. They give fans a glance at the future of the CAL. For example, in the 2008 boys eighth grade game, the MVP was Keyshawn Reynolds of Atlantic City, who had 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 12 minutes. Four years later, Reynolds is part of a state championship team at ACHS.

Other familiar names on the boys team four years ago were Brent Slotoroff, Larry Jones, T. John Casiello, Liam McMenamin, Dom Palmieri, Pat Kugel and Zak Barrett. Casiello, by the way, won the foul-shooting contest in 2008 by making 19 of 20. This year he led the CAL from the line by making 85 percent.

Four years ago, the girls eighth grade MVP was Raina Floyd of Northfield, with 15 points and five steals. She had a strong freshman season at Holy Spirit before an injury ended her career. Others who are recognizable from the 2008 girls game are Christina Startare, Mackenzie Wimberg, Ta’yon Morgan-Jones, Emily Gillian, Nicole Nardi and Gina Masco.

Come early on Saturday. Watch the future CAL players in action. There will also be a Legends Game at 2:30 featuring top CAL alumni. Last year, Dennis Horner, who played for the Nets this year, played in the game.


Charlie Wood loved the eighth grade games at All Star Saturday. And he liked the fact that the high school all stars play the game in their school basketball uniforms. He enjoyed the entire day.

Everybody has a favorite Charlie Wood story.

One day he was talking to a group of reporters about his efforts to trap a possum that was showing up regularly in his back yard and causing problems. He eventually called animal control and they set a trap. The next day, Charlie saw the possum stretched out in the trap. He thought it was dead. But, as he got right next to the trap and reached for it, the animal sprung to its feet.

“That’s when I realized,” Charlie said, “that it was playing possum.”

He didn’t mean it to be funny and it may not read that way on paper. But when Charlie told it, with that Vermont accent, it was funny.

That was Charlie’s strength. He was a story teller. Whether it was about how a team won a game or what made a guy from Philadelphia move to the Jersey Shore.

Charlie covered almost every sport, mostly in contests including teams from Ocean City and Mainland. And he did it with a style all his own.

It has been a few years since Charlie has written locally, because of health problems that eventually led to his death earlier this month. But he continued to write for years while battling illness because he loved the atmosphere of high school sports.

Charlie left behind a book – Rusty Dearest – about letters written to his mother by his father, while he was fighting in France and Germany during World War II. The book is still available at

There will be many developments in the future of area sports, including this weekend’s All Star Saturday, that Charlie would have loved to cover. And we all would have enjoyed his stories.

Charlie Wood was an influential part of the local media and his absence has left a gaping hole.

Read more of Tom Williams' columns