Kellenberg High School varsity boys basketball players honor late athletic...

Kellenberg High School varsity boys basketball players honor late athletic director Ed Solosky with a moment of silence before tipoff against St. Mary's at St. Mary's High School. (Feb. 18, 2011) Credit: James Escher

For about 30 seconds before Kellenberg's 85-61 loss to host St. Mary's Friday night, the only sound coming out of the Gaels' small, filled-to-capacity gym was the suddenly intrusive buzz of fluorescent lights.

Kellenberg athletic director Ed Solosky died Tuesday of injuries sustained from a three-car crash while on his way back to Long Island from his aunt's funeral in Virginia. And, of the 12 bowed heads wearing Kellenberg blue, yellow and white near center court, there wasn't one athlete Solosky didn't touch, Firebirds boys basketball coach Jack McCutcheon said.

"He was a great man," said senior guard Thomas Madelmayer after the moments of silence. "I never had him [as a teacher], but . . . I'd go to him for extra help. He was always calling me for ideas for club activities. He was a big part of our lives."

His influence was felt Friday as the team took the court a little over an hour after attending Solosky's wake at Kellenberg Memorial. "We'll put as much work into this as we can," Madelmayer said. "We know they'll play us hard."

The Firebirds (6-11, 2-7 CHSAA), who wore black patches, faced the unenviable task of keeping up with undefeated and overwhelmingly physical St. Mary's. Kellenberg sputtered early, as the Gaels jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Conor Burnes' short jumper broke the drought with 4:51 left in the quarter.

With less than a minute left in the half, St. Mary's scored six straight, capped by Chavaughn Lewis' steal and slashing layup to give the Gaels' a 45-22 lead at the break - this, after Kellenberg had drawn within 12.

Lewis led St. Mary's with 26 points and Charles McCann had 20. John Romano led Kellenberg with 12.

St. Mary's High School alumnus Danny Green, a 2005 graduate...

St. Mary's High School alumnus Danny Green, a 2005 graduate who went to play NCAA basketball at North Carolina and in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers, thanks the crowd after his jersey was retired. (Feb. 18, 2011) Credit: James Escher

It was an impressive showing for St. Mary's (23-0, 11-0), which, due to cancellations, had played five games in eight days. The hope, coach Bill Harkins said, is to close out strong against Chaminade next week and earn a playoffs bye. "They need to get some rest," he said. "They're tired."

Even a tired St. Mary's is a dangerous St. Mary's. And, though this game was never going to be easy, even without the added emotional toll, Madelmayer tipped his hat to Solosky's mantra of playing the game hard, even against a stacked deck.

Before tipoff, he made no guarantees but one: "We have to play tough," he said. "Do it for Mr. Solosky."

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