January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 41°F


Basketball teams give back in 3-on-3 fundraiser

Junior Chris Cruz-Rivas drove left, spun right and put up a flat-footed jump shot over a defender Saturday afternoon at Newman Arena at Cornell University. But the 6-foot-3-inch guard towered over his unfamiliar opponent — seventh grader Aaron Malcolm, a member of Ithaca Youth Bureau’s College Discovery Program.

From left, junior Jane DeBiasse holds the ball as Dikembe Ayers defends her Saturday at the College Discovery Program’s 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament at Cornell University’s Newman Arena. JESSE CASES/THE ITHACAN

Members of the Ithaca College and Cornell University men’s and women’s basketball teams volunteered and participated in the 2nd Annual CDP’s 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

The CDP is a long-term mentoring and academic support program, which helps children in the Ithaca City School District who are part of the achievement gap, a disparity in academic performance that affects the 60 percent of African-Americans, Latinos and members of refugee groups who graduate in the Ithaca City School District.

“The goal of our program is to help kids basically get to college and to give them the support that they need,” Program Coordinator Linda Cimakasky Barr said.

Currently, 38 student are in the CDP, which follows the students from fifth grade until their first year of college. Along with mentoring, the program supports the academic needs of the students, from helping with schoolwork to buying them books with funds from the Ithaca Youth Bureau.

The tournament is a fundraiser for the CDP, which was not awarded two federal grants that it applied for last year. The CDP has turned to more innovative ways to raise the funds necessary to keep the program running.

“There’s a chance of not being able to expand, but I’m fairly confident we’ll get the funds we need, even if we have to do more fundraisers,” Cimakasky Barr said.

The 15 registered teams played competitive games throughout the afternoon, some of which were blowouts and others that went down to the wire. The court where Ithaca men’s basketball players juniors Cruz-Rivas and Phil Barera refereed had two games that ended with buzzer-beating 3-pointers within the span of an hour.

Teams that participated were randomly selected into pools of four with each team playing the others in their assigned pool. The top two teams in each pool advanced to the single-elimination championship bracket with the winner going up against the Cornell coaches. The bottom two teams in each pool played in the consolation bracket.

Each team had to pay a $40 registration free to play, and student members of the CDP also sold raffle tickets to raise money. Among other fundraisers, the CDP intends to plan a wine tasting for adults and a letter-writing campaign to solicit donations and gain support from the community, Cimakasky Barr said.

While several players from the Ithaca men’s and women’s varsity squads refereed games, the team of Ithaca College junior varsity players sophomore Shuaibu Ali and freshmen Jimmy Lau and Armando Diaz advanced to the semifinals before losing to the eventual champions, The Big Hurt. Tompkins Cortland Community College students, Greg Driscol, Chris Cartwright, Tyrone Thompson and Marcus Delige of The Big Hurt, advanced to the final.

In the final game of the afternoon, Cornell men’s assistant coaches Woody Kampman and Kevin App played alongside Cornell Director of Basketball Operation James Huggins and event disc jockey Brian Mlodzinski against the The Big Hurt. The coaches won the game with a 21–13 final score.

“It’s a great opportunity to interact with the local kids,” Ithaca junior women’s basketball player Jane DeBiasse said. “We don’t get a lot of chances to do that and … it’s a great organization, and I was glad I could come and help. I’m having so much fun. They’re honestly just awesome kids.”

Leyla Ditrich, one of the seventh graders who has been in the program for two years, said she really enjoyed being a part of the CDP’s basketball tournament.

“It’s really fun, being in the program and going to events like these,” she said. “You get to meet people and look at colleges. We get a lot of great opportunities being in the program.”