City’s All-Star festivities honor late Lincoln coach 

The best prep players in The City convened at City College of San Francisco on Sunday to honor former Lincoln High School coach Michael Gragnani, who died in January.

The Gragnani Memorial City All-Star Game featured the top seniors from San Francisco’s three primary athletic leagues: the Academic Athletic Association, the West Catholic Athletic League, and Bay Counties League.

“It’s a great way to end the season for the guys and girls. A lot of these kids have played together growing up in youth leagues and playing together in junior high school, and to bring them together one last time, I think it’s just a fun experience for everybody,” said University coach Randy Bessolo, who organized the event on behalf of the Bay Area Warriors and First Base Foundation.

The event signifies the end of the basketball season in San Francisco, but this year it symbolized something greater.

“It’s an opportunity to bring the community together. [The event] gave us the opportunity to memorialize Mike Gragnani, who was a real pillar in the basketball community,” Bessolo said. “This was a great way to recognize all he gave to the community.”

Even though the All-Star festivities are composed of The City’s very best, the games are played in a very light-hearted manner.

“There’s no tension, everybody’s getting along having a good time. It’s one big basketball party,” said coach Larry Minnich of the Bay School, who coached the girls’ Eastside team. “It gives them an opportunity to play with other players in other leagues, and they enjoy that because they don’t usually get that opportunity.”

Led by team MVP Johnny Mrlik, the WCAL team defeated both the BCL and AAA teams in the boys’ matchups.  Mrlik led all scorers with 20 points on the day.

Top honors for the AAA went to Washington’s Jeremy Jetton, who scored 17 total points to lead the AAA over the BCL. The BCL team MVP honors went to BCL West Player of the Year Noah Springwater. The Columbia-bound senior had 15 total points.

The girls’ honors went to Sacred Heart Cathedral’s TJ Miller, who scored 17 and led the Eastside team to a tight victory. Raquel Avila of St. Ignatius powered the Westside attack, finishing with 11 total points and earning the Westside MVP.

In addition to the games, the City All-Star Game featured two 3-point contests and a slam dunk contest. Ciara Sylvestri took home the girls’ 3-point crown, while Matt Quintana championed the boys’ long-distance event.

Mission’s Travis Price-Roku claimed the slam dunk contest title with a thundering alley-oop off the backboard to cap the festivities.  

Preps sports coverage provided in partnership by The San Francisco Examiner and SanFranPreps.com

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Dante Quazzo

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