120 Basketball Teams Play In Wolves’ March Madness Tourney

The Wellington Wolves 10th-grade boys team won their bracket, shown with head coach Josh Gregory and assistant coach Shain Waugh.

For the 22nd year, the Wellington Wolves hosted their March Madness Basketball Tournament in Wellington during the first weekend in March.

Throughout the two-day tournament, more than 230 games were played by 120 youth basketball teams from throughout the state. According to Wellington Wolves President Chris Fratalia, the tournament director, there was one out-of-state team in the tournament, which came from Quebec, Canada.

Fratalia was pleased with how the tournament was conducted from beginning to end.

“It was a great weekend of competitive basketball,” he said. “It was our largest tournament ever, and the smoothest. We had more than 200 volunteers step forward to help.”

The main venue was the Wellington Recreation Center at Village Park, located off Pierson Road. However, a total of 18 different venues across Palm Beach County were used to stage this basketball bonanza.

Six of those gyms were in Wellington. In addition to three courts at Village Park, the other venues used in Wellington were Polo Park Middle School, Emerald Cove Middle School, Wellington High School, Palm Beach Central High School and the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club.

This year’s tournament kicked off at Village Park on Saturday, March 2 at 8:30 a.m. Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig was there to welcome all the players, coaches, parents and fans.

In her opening remarks, Gerwig congratulated all tournament participants for making the commitment to play in this basketball showcase. “This is such a great opportunity to compete and be physically active,” Gerwig said. “You are all winners.”

Gerwig’s comments were followed by the singing of the national anthem by Emily Shecter.

The boys basketball teams ranged from third-graders to 11th-graders, while the girls basketball teams ranged from sixth-graders to 11th-graders.

Seventeen teams that competed in the tournament represented the Wellington Wolves: 12 boys teams and five girls squads. Of those, three won their respective age-group brackets: the 11th-grade girls, the 10th-grade boys and the eighth-grade girls, which moved up and won the ninth-grade girls division.

Some of the more creative team names in the tournament were the 561 Wildcats, Limitless Basketball, Junkyard Dogs, Ball4Lyfe, Rize Above All and Handlelife.

On the first day of the tournament, 2,783 new and slightly worn shoes were collected at Village Park by In Jacob’s Shoes, a nonprofit that collects shoes for needy children in South Florida. This shoe collection effort was coordinated by the Council of Dads, which is led by Wellington resident John Sitomer, in cooperation with the Wellington Wolves.

“We have collected more than 11,000 brand-new and slightly worn shoes during the last four March Madness tournaments here in Wellington,” Sitomer said.

Of all the great games by the many young players in the tournament, three standout performances were by Rashard Reinhardt, Serena Volcy and E.J. Arnold.

Reinhardt led the Wellington Wolves boys 10th-grade team to the championship of its bracket. During the tournament, that Wolves team posted a 5-0 record. In the final, the Wolves defeated the Junkyard Dogs from Lake Worth Beach, 63-33. Throughout the five games, Reinhardt averaged 18 points, six rebounds and five steals. He was named the MVP of the boys 10th-grade division.

Volcy led her Miami Impact team to the championship title of the girls eight-grade bracket. Volcy, who stands 5-foot-7, scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the championship final, where Miami Impact defeated the Jupiter Jaguars, 45-24. She was named the MVP of the division.

In the final of the fourth-grade boys bracket between the Jacksonville Magic and SW Florida, Arnold led the Magic to a 47-46 win in that division’s championship game. As the Magic’s starting point guard, he played a leading role by averaging 12 points a game, five steals per game, four assists per contest and grabbing key rebounds throughout the tournament. The Jacksonville Magic recorded a 4-0 record during the tournament.

To stage Wellington’s March Madness Basketball Tournament required more than 65 referees who came from Palm Beach County, Broward County and the Treasure Coast. The referees were assigned by Erik Benz and Leon Lipsick, the co-directors of the Ref Collective.

According to Fratalia, plans are already underway for next year’s March Madness Basketball Tournament, which will be held in Wellington March 3-4, 2025.