Team Davis’ YSU connection keys victory in 8th Game of Hope

By Joe Scalzo



Some might say that Matt Morrone wasn’t the most talented player in Saturday’s Game of Hope. Or the most fit. Or the most skilled. Or the best looking. Or the most deserving of MVP honors ...

“Uh-huh,” Morrone said, grinning. “No question.”

Morrone, who had back surgery just a few months ago, scored 12 points and shook off a vague threat from one of the opposing coaches to earn player of the game honors, helping Team Davis rally for a 52-49 victory in the eighth annual Game of Hope at Beeghly Center.

Morrone, the athletics business manager at Youngstown State, said Team Boney assistant coach Dr. Cynthia Anderson (aka YSU’s president) threatened him during the game but said he didn’t let it affect his play.

“Something about my paycheck and if I wanted one, and I think that’s where she left it,” he said. “I don’t know what that meant.”

Trailing 31-24 at halftime, Team Davis turned to former YSU standout Dorothy Bowers-Collins in the second half. Collins scored 10 of her 12 points in the final 20 minutes and Fitch High special education teacher Andrew Scarmack made a put-back layup with 13 seconds left to give Team Davis a 50-49 lead.

Team Boney’s Tom Seifert, a graphic designer for Minuteman Press, was then fouled on a baseline drive with 2.6 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and made the second, only to see it waived off when he was called for a lane violation. (“He did,” said teammate and state senator Joe Schiavoni, who clearly doesn’t value Seifert’s vote in the next election.)

“You know what? We’ll take it,” said Team Davis coach Jim Davis, an Austintown Township trustee. “Last year our team hit a 10-point shot to get us back in the game.

“Anything’s possible in this game.”

TanFastic tanning salon owner George Dimos hit two free throws to wrap up the scoring and Team Boney’s Stacie Cepin, the Fitch High girls basketball coach, was short on a half-court shot at the buzzer.

“I told Stan I was going to send him back to the weather desk and it got hot in here toward the end,” said Davis, referring to opposing coach Stan Boney, the WYTV news anchor. “I had my frequent flyer card out because of all the traveling they were doing. I wanted to get some points for it.”

Frank Lellio Jr., owner of Rossi Brothers and Lellio Funeral Home, and Boardman police officer John Gocala Jr. each scored 12 points for Team Boney. Gocala scored his points in the first 15 minutes before leaving with an ankle injury.

Saturday’s game, which was sponsored by the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, benefited chronically and terminally ill children. Since 2005, the game and the foundation have raised more than $60,000.

At halftime, the foundation inducted former YSU women’s basketball coach Ed DiGregorio and former YSU men’s basketball coach Dom Rosselli into its Hall of Fame. Rosselli’s widow, Connie, accepted his award.

“It’s a great charity, it’s a great event and I’m just proud to be a part of it,” Davis said.

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