Return to Headlines

2024 Night of Champions

The Elizabeth Board of Education and Elizabeth Public Schools hosted a Night of Champions on March 21 at the Thomas G. Dunn Sports Center to honor the championship winning 2023-2024 Elizabeth Minutemen and Elizabeth Lady Minutemen basketball teams.

The Minutemen earned their third state sectional title in five years with a thrilling 69-67 victory over Plainfield in the North 2, Group 4 final at the Dunn Sports Center before a dominating performance in defeating Lenape 57-41 at Rutgers University’s Jersey Mike’s Arena in New Brunswick to claim the Group 4 title. The Lady Minutemen won their first Union County tournament in over 25 years with a 59-57 overtime victory over Cranford at Kean University’s Harwood Arena to end an inspiring run that included two wins in the first two rounds by a combined seven points before knocking off two-time defending UCT champion and then No. 12 ranked New Providence in the semifinal. They would carry that momentum into the state tournament, knocking off No. 1 seed Plainfield on the road in the semifinal to reach the North 2, Group 4 championship before falling to Hillsborough.

The event, emceed by Jerome Dunn Academy School No. 9 physical education teacher Kwao Taylor in front of a large crowd of Minutemen and Lady Minutemen supporters, included performances by Elizabeth’s cheerleaders, marching band, and color guard, introductions of the players from both teams, a 3-point shooting competition, a 2-on-2 competition, electrifying dunks, and a performance by Elizabeth born artist Xani. Elizabeth cheerleader Malechi Palmer's consecutive selection to the All-American Team in 2022 and 2023, a first at Elizabeth High School, highlights his exceptional talent, leadership, and character in cheerleading. This prestigious recognition signifies the pinnacle of achievement in the sport, opening doors to unique opportunities and enhancing college prospects.

Board President Charlene Bathelus Dorgely presented Lady Minutemen coaches Crystal Reinhold and Donald Johnson commemorative frames and the Lady Minutemen team a banner and Board Vice President Stanley Neron presented Minutemen coach Phil Colicchio a commemorative frame and the Minutemen team a banner honoring their respective championship seasons.

Elizabeth City Council President Carlos Torres, on behalf of the City Council, greeted the audience and congratulated both teams for their outstanding seasons. Torres presented a resolution to Coach Colicchio for the Minutemen’s Group 4 championship winning season while Councilwoman-at-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste presented a resolution to Coach Reinhold for the Lady Minutemen’s Union County Championship.

The event concluded with Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer presenting EPS Athletic Director Ben Candelino with a commemorative frame in honor of his selection for induction to the NJSIAA Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2024 for his legendary career as a coach at St. Mary’s (Eliz.) and Elizabeth High School.