New York High School: Ron Kelley

Naz's Feagin to Cincinnati

May, 3, 2012
It didn't take long for Cincinnati to win over Destini Feagin.

The Bearcats only started recruiting the Nazareth senior wing in late April during the live period. A little more than a week later, Feagin signed her national Letter of Intent with the Big East school, choosing it over Morehead State and Providence.

"The visit was great and it felt like family," Feagin said. "They're experienced coaches and Coach (Jamelle) Elliott was wonderful. She's awesome. She won six national titles at UConn. It's a great fit and I bonded with the girls from the start. The competition is the Big East, that's a challenge for me, and I feel I can play that level. Why not take it on?"

Feagin took an official visit to Cincinnati last weekend and officially decided on the Bearcats after returning home and thinking things over. The senior had received some phone calls here and there from Cincinnati, but their pursuit didn't pick up until they had her SAT scores, as she only recently took the test.

The wing played one season for Nazareth after transferring from Ben Davis (Ind.), describing it as a roller-coaster year. She started out the year ineligible, head coach Apache Paschall died in January and the school announced it was going to close during the middle of the season.

"It had its up and downs," she said of her year.

On the court, Feagin was one of the key players in helping guide Nazareth to the CHSAA Class AA crown. While in most games she played a complementary role to the other stars on the Lady Kingsmen, she had her share of big moments. Nazareth finished the season ranked No. 1 in New York City by

"She had this defensive toughness and she's just a tough kid," Nazareth co-coach Ron Kelley said. "She's another scorer. She's got a great basketball body because she's super athletic. Down the stretch, she won some game for us with her great defense and her opportune shooting in big games."

Feagin is the third Nazareth senior to sign with a Big East school for next season. Brianna Butler is headed to Syracuse next season and Darius Faulk is going to West Virginia. While Syracuse will head to the ACC in 2014, the trio of teammates will be able to have some battles.

"I think Apache would be very proud and he envisioned the best places for us to all go," Feagin said. "I think we're all happy and excited that we have the chance to play against one another. We're anxious to see each other next year and it's pretty interesting"

Feagin was very close to her former coach, who she said told her that her time would finally come. The wing believes that time is finally here.

"I'm very excited and very happy," Feagin said. "I just feel the best is yet to come. I'm going to keep working and I already have started and I can only do bigger and better things as I continue to move forward."

Nazareth stays open, excited for future

April, 19, 2012
Todd Jamison labeled himself as cautiously optimistic when it came to the future of Nazareth. It was announced in February that the school would close at the end of the year, but the boys basketball coach knew the school wouldn't go down without a fight.

As the fundraising efforts increased, Jamison became more confident the doors would remain open in East Flatbush. Wednesday, at a press conference, Jamison's and many others hopes became a reality as the school announced it would stay open for the next four years, leaving the school buzzing with excitement about its future.

"We just refused to accept the fact that the Board of Trustees wanted to close the school," Jamison said. "I haven't heard of any school that is going to close and that was going to be re-opening against. I'm just speechless."

Amid financial problems and declining enrollment, Nazareth announced in February the school would close. The school started working toward trying to stay open and had to meet three goals by April 15: enroll 80 freshman for next year's class, raise at least $700,000 to help pay off the deficit, and create a plan for long-term sustainability.

Jamison, as well as athletic director Rochelle Murphy, both admitted to initially thinking the school would close and there was nothing that could be done. It went right down to the wire but the school found way to meet the requirements. Nazareth has a 98 percent graduation rate for its students and 96 percent go on to college.

"For us to be staying open is a tremendous sense of pride," Murphy said. "You meet people who say good luck and I hope you stay open, but it doesn't seem like they're giving you much of a chance. I wasn't even giving us much of a chance at the beginning. To have overcome all this and be successful carrying out our plan, it's tremendous."

Those connected to the school applauded the work of school principal Providencia Quiles, for her efforts in finding a way for the school to stay open. Jamison mentioned that having a few months to work with also helped as the school had time to try and save itself.

"It's a big relief," Nazareth girls basketball co-coach Ron Kelley said. "There is a God. I'm very happy. We're very happy with this principal. I think she works hard and we're very happy to be with this administration and we think everybody worked hard to save the school and we're very excited."

Nazareth is coming off a banner year for the school. The boys basketball team won the CHSAA Class B State tile and the girls team repeated as the CHSAA Class AA State champions. Both teams made it to the State Federation tournament, although neither won the title.

Heading into that tournament, it was thought that those would be the last times that Nazareth would try to win titles. Now, Nazareth heads into next season looking to defend its titles, thanks to the hard work of many that resulted in new life in East Flatbush.

"People were elated at the press conference, because you're talking about closing the school and now we're back open again," Jamison said. "You just had to be there. We did something people thought we could not do. We won the war. That's the only way I can put it."

Nazareth to stay open

April, 18, 2012
Nazareth Regional High School will announce at a 6 p.m. press conference on Wednesday night that the school is staying open, according to girls basketball coach Ron Kelley. The board of trustees had voted in February to close the school because of declining enrollment and financial problems at the East Flatbush school.

"They're making the announcement that they're keeping the school open for the next five years," Kelley said. "And we're working to keep it open for the next 25 years."

For Nazareth to stay open, it needed to accomplish three things by April 15: enroll at least 80 freshman for next year's class, raise $700,000 to help pay off debts, and provide a sustainable plan to keep the school operating in the future. School principal Providencia Quiles, who could not comment about whether the school was going to remain open, had worked very hard to meet those goals by having fundraisers and others types of events to help save the school.

Nazareth won CHSAA State titles in both girls and boys basketball this season. The boys team won the Class B State title while the girls were the Class AA State champion. The girls team entered the season ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPNHS and had to deal with the death of head coach Apache Paschall, who died of heart failure in June.

"It's a big relief," Kelley said. "There is a God. I'm very happy. We're very happy with this principal. I think she works hard and we're very happy to be with this administration and we think everybody worked hard to save the school and we're very excited."

Nazareth wins title for Paschall

March, 10, 2012

At the beginning of the week, before the CHSAA Class AA State tournament, Nazareth girls basketball coach Ron Kelley tried to help his team refocus by showing them a clip of their former coach Apache Paschall, who died in January of heart failure.

"We showed them to let them know he's still here, he's still watching us and loving them and no matter what, he's proud of them," Kelley said.

Saturday night, Nazareth certainly did their former coach proud. The girls repeated as CHSAA Class AA State champions as they defeated Moore Catholic, 68-46, in front of a packed crowd at Christ the King in Middle Village. The Lady Kingsmen (18-3) now will try to defend their State Federation championship in two weeks in Albany.

"(Paschall) brought us all together and we all came together to play basketball and he made us love it so much more, he made us really appreciate each other more than anything and want to fight for each other because we love each other," said sophomore guard Sadie Edwards, who led her team with 21 points. "We know that he's looking down on us somewhere and he's going to be proud of us. I think winning this game and winning this season for him, it's everything he could want and we want too."

Paschall, a controversial bu very successful coach who led the girls to the CHSAA State title last year, died on Jan. 3. The girls were devastated to lose him, as many of them had played AAU ball for him had followed him to Nazareth after St. Michael Academy closed in 2010.

His death even led to controversy in the league as two teams canceled games on it following his death, and then Nazareth requested those teams be hit with forfeits. All Nazareth wanted to do at the time was play to honor its coach, and since then, the team has been focused purely on winning the titles Paschall had wanted so dearly for them.

Saturday, Nazareth played the style of basketball that had become synonymous with Paschall-coached teams. A relenting pressure defense continually forced Moore Catholic into turnovers and kept the Mavericks (22-6) from finding a rhythm. The Lady Kingsmen also took away Moore's best offensive weapon, 3-point shooting, forcing tough shots.

The turnovers caused by their tenacious defense created a stream of fastbreak points, another staple of a Paschall team. His team excelled in transition, running up and down the court and scoring easily. Nazareth used two big runs, an 11-2 spurt to end the first half and a 20-0 surge spanning the third and fourth quarters, to pull away.

"I'm thinking about Apache right now and I love him to death," Kelley said. "I love him for bringing me into this. I love him for putting me on this stage with these talented young ladies. When we win games like this and we win championships, I always think about him first, man. It's great to do it and I wish he was here."

Nazareth also played this game knowing that it will likely be the final season for the school. The school announced earlier this year that it is closing at the end of the year, although it is still trying to round up enough support to stay open. Earlier on Saturday, the boys basketball team won the CHSAA Class B State title.

"It's good because we're trying to finish off something good for Nazareth," sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas said about the two titles.

When Kelley showed that video to his team before the week, he said some of the girls cried and others were choked up. Seeing their coach profess the love had an affect on them, ultimately culminating in Saturday's title win.

"We had to get refocused from last week (losing to Christ the King) and I think that's one of the things we did that helped us get refocused," Kelley said. "Hearing his voice, hearing that calm, relaxing voice that Apache had. Them understanding the reason why they're here and what they had to do."

Rapid Reax: (1) Nazareth 55, (2) Molloy 46

February, 13, 2012
Nazareth coach Lauren Best saw it as soon as her team walked into the gym at Molloy.

“We were out of it,” the coach said.

That still didn't make a difference, though. No. 1 Nazareth handled No. 2 Molloy, 56-44, Monday at Jack Curran Gymnasium in Queens. Best anticipated her team going through the motions after a tough victory against previously undefeated Manasquan (N.J.) at The Mecca Challenge in the Bronx Sunday.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Neither team shot well early but when Nazareth (14-1) started to find its range, Molloy continued its cold shooting.

The Stanners (15-7) struggled to find any offense outside of Carolyn Gallagher, who scored a game-high 28 points. Nazareth held Molloy to just five field goals across the second and third quarters and held a 38-26 lead headed to the final period.

Nazareth kept Molloy in the game at the free-throw line in the fourth. Molloy went 9-of-13 from the line in the final period. Bianca Cuevas scored 16 points, Sadie Edwards had 12 and Brianna Butler had 10.

TURNING POINT: Nazareth led 16-10 after Butler hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc about a minute into the second quarter. Nazareth looked sluggish, Molloy couldn’t score and the game was getting sloppy before Best called timeout.

“I told them if this game is close we’re going to lose,” Best said.

Best and co-head coach Ron Kelley also implored their team to clamp down on defense. Nazareth started trapping the Molloy guards and pressing the ball and extended the lead to 32-19 with 6:53 left in the third.

“We played a tough game yesterday and I think that to come back and play again tonight was a little tough,” Edwards said. “We came out a little bit lethargic. But we want to be a good team that wins game when we didn’t play well and we didn’t play well at all, individually or as a team, so it just shows that we’re a good team.”

NO FORFEITS FOR FORD OR CK: Nazareth learned earlier in the day that hat Christ the King and Bishop Ford will not have to forfeit games that they were scheduled to play but canceled after the death of Nazareth coach Apache Paschall on Jan. 3. Nazareth wanted to play both games and requested forfeits.

“They didn’t follow the rules,” Best said. “The rules state one thing and they got away with one. They should have gotten the forfeit. We’re a competitive team so we’re going to play but that’s not what the rules state.”

WHITE OUT: Cuevas couldn’t find her jersey before the game so she borrowed Shanice Woodson’s jersey. Problem was, Cuevas wears No. 1 while Woodson, who was sick and did not play, wears No. 11. So Cuevas covered the second number one with white athletic tape to keep her number.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “I can’t explain it. I think we came out scared. I think we play in games like this where instead of playing to win, we play not to lose.” - Molloy coach Scott Lagas on his team’s offensive struggles.

UP NEXT: Nazareth won’t play again until the games are scheduled against Bishop Ford and Christ the King, which will likely be next week. Molloy plays at Christ the King Friday at 6 p.m.

Principals agree to play games, not forfeits

February, 13, 2012
The Christ the King and Bishop Ford girls basketball teams will not have to forfeit the games it canceled against Nazareth following Nazareth coach Apache Paschall's death, according to CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens principals committee chairman John Lorenzetti. The principals of the three schools agreed to play the games later this season.

"At the meeting, the three principals sat down and talked and keeping the Christian and Catholic philosophies, everyone felt it was in the best interest for those games to be played," Lorenzetti said. "We are working out the schedule as we speak.

A principals committee meeting occurred on Monday that was going to rule on the request for forfeits, but Lorenzetti said the three principals of the schools in Christ the King's Peter Mannarino, Bishop Ford's Frank Brancato and Nazareth's Providencia Quiles decided among the three of them to play the games. He said there was no group vote taken.

If Christ the King and Bishop Ford were voted to forfeit the games, the league constitution does allow for a forfeiture of the season and the next season, but Lorenzetti stressed that that doesn't mean that would have applied to this situation. He said that each case is treated on an individual basis and he's grateful that it did not come to that.

"I'm thrilled. I think that's the way it should be," Lorenzetti said of the decision. "I think sporting events should be decided on the court and not in committee meetings and whatever else. I'm thrilled that they agreed to play."

After Paschall died on Jan. 3, the Lady Kingsmen hoped to play their scheduled league games against Bishop Ford on Jan. 5 and Christ the King on Jan. 7. Ford's administration canceled the game because it believed it was too quickly after to play while CK believed Paschall's funeral was going to be the day of its game.

Nazareth's coaches and players were not too pleased that the games were canceled against them as they wanted to play to honor their coach. Paschall lead the team to the New York State Federation Class AA title last season in his first year at the school.

"I think it's disrespectful," Nazareth co-coach Ron Kelley said at the time. "He was our coach, our friend and our confidant, and my mentor and a father figure to our girls here. If we choose to have the game and play the game, then I would think everybody would try to respect our wishes in doing so.

"If God forbid this happened to somebody else, I would say, anything you want us to do, we'll do. That would be my answer. These young ladies have been through a tragedy. I think that what they want to do is what we should be doing."

After the cancellation of the games, Nazareth requested that the league make Bishop Ford and Christ the King forfeit the games. The Eligibility and Infractions Committee made the recommendation that Bishop Ford and Christ the King should have to forfeit. The principals committee meeting was scheduled for last Wednesday but was postponed until Monday.

Nazareth co-coach Lauren Best did not seem too pleased with the decision. Nazareth already beat both opponents by at least 30 points each and will go for the clean sweep soon.

“They didn’t follow the rules,” Best said after her team beat Molloy on Monday night. “The rules state one thing and they got away with one. They should have gotten the forfeit. We’re a competitive team so we’re going to play but that’s not what the rules state.”

Christopher Hunt contributed reporting to this article

Nazareth players react to closing

February, 10, 2012
The Nazareth girls basketball team, ranked No. 1 by, has been through a lot this season. Last summer, its former coach, Apache Paschall, was diagnosed with skin cancer. It then had to deal with ineligibility issues for three transfer students, Paschall's death, having games cancelled as a result, and more ineligibility issues for another transfer student.

However, none of that prepared them for the news they got this past Wednesday morning that Nazareth will be closing its doors at the end of the school year.

“With everything that is going on and then for this to happen, this has been a real shock to us,” said Nazareth junior Robyn Camacho. “We had no idea this would happen, nobody did. They just pulled us into the auditorium to make the announcement and tears just started coming down.”

Ever since the passing of their beloved coach, the girls have been saying they are using his legacy as a motivation to go all the way and win another Federation title. Now, they are going to look to his legacy again to deal with this latest setback.

“The main question of the day is what happens next,” Camacho asked. “Where is the team going to go next?”

The girls aren’t wondering as individuals where each one of them is heading. Instead they are all wondering where the team is headed because this program has already been through this once before.

Paschall used to coach his girls team at St. Michael in Manhattan, but when it closed its doors at the end of the 2009-10 school year, he moved the program to Nazareth in Brooklyn and many of his girls followed him. Now, they are looking at that as a reason to think that this program can continue even as Nazareth prepares to close.

“We are all going to try to stay together because it's what Apache would want,” sophomore guard Bianca Cuevas said. “(Co-coaches Ron Kelley and Lauren Best) are here to continue his legacy and they will do their best to keep us together.”

Shanice Woodson is the only girl that left St. Michael that is still on the Nazareth team as the rest graduated last year. She says that she expects the team to be together next year, but thinks that it could be harder than some suspect.

“Doing that the first time was crazy,” Woodson said. “We had to have a lot of patience and faith. It got hard for some people and it wasn't good for certain people. For some Nazareth was really far for them to commute and it's tough finding something that works for everybody.

“I know that when we went through it the last time I was really nervous. The entire thing took a while and you are wondering where they are going to find a school that can take an entire team. It wasn’t an easy thing to go through.”

The idea that it has been done before gives the girls hope that it can be done again. The co-coaches have talked a lot about doing whatever they have to do to fulfill Pashcall's legacy.

Before the girls really start worrying about all of that, they have a bigger goal in mind and that is winning another Federation title. This time it is not only for Paschall, but for Nazareth as well.

“Not that we needed more motivation, but this makes us want to go out and win every game to make a statement,” Woodson said. “This is not just for us or Apache anymore, we have to do this for the school, we have to go out with a bang.”

Naz's Butler to play in All-American Game

February, 9, 2012
Nazareth girls basketball senior wing Brianna Butler finally got some good news.

"It's been an up-and-down year," Butler said after being selected on Thursday to the McDonald's All-American Game. "We lost our coach, I was ineligible then eligible, playing our games, now having the school close, it's been up and down. This is a nice change of events."

Butler was the lone player from New York City to be chosen to play in the McDonald's All-American Game on March 28. The senior transferred to the Brooklyn school for this season and has helped Nazareth to its national ranking.

"It's a big deal, a once in a lifetime opportunity," Butler said. "I'm just happy to have made the team."

Butler transferred to Nazareth this year from Penn Charter (Penn.) , landing at the school of her AAU coach, Apache Paschall. Butler is the No. 13 prospect in the class of 2012 and has helped Nazareth to a 12-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in New York City by Her coach, Ron Kelley, told her during school that she had been selected for the game.

So far this season, it's been a bumpy road for Butler and the rest of her Nazareth teammates. Butler was ineligible at the beginning of the season and then declared eligible. Paschall died on Jan. 3 and there has been controversy surrounding the cancellation of games. On Wednesday, Nazareth announced that it will be closing its doors at the end of the school year.

Butler said she believes that she is averaging about 18 to 19 points per game this season for the Lady Kingsmen. She will be playing in the game with her future Syracuse teammate, Brittney Sykes of University (Newark, N.J.).

"That's a good feeling," Butler said. "We're future teammates and will get to play together."

New York City had four players nominated for the game but Butler was the only one to get chosen. Nazareth teammate Darius Faulk, Christ the King boys shooting guard Omar Calhoun and St. Raymond forward Kerwin Okoro did not get chosen for the game.

"It would have been nice to have (Darius and I) got to the game," Butler said. "I kind of do wish that we had two people from Nazareth at the game."

This is the second straight year that a girls basketball player has been the lone representative for New York City in the McDonald's All-American game. Christ the King's Bria Smith, now a freshman at Louisville, was the lone selection from the Big Apple last season.

Across the river, St. Anthony boys basketball small forward Kyle Anderson was chosen for the game. New Jersey also had a pair of girls who will represent the Garden State in the game.

Committee recommends CK, Ford forfeit

February, 4, 2012
The CHSAA Eligibility and Infractions Committee has recommended that Bishop Ford and Christ the King should forfeit their schedule games against Nazareth that were canceled following coach Apache Paschall's death, according to Christ the King Principal Peter Mannarino.

The final decision, however, is up to the principal's committee, which will meet on Wednesday. The New York Post first reported the news.

Mannarino, who watched Christ the King beat Cardinal Hayes on Saturday, said he found out on Friday about the infractions committee's recommendation. He said that he did not believe it was a fair recommendation. CK canceled its Jan. 7 against Nazareth.

"We didn't play the game out of respect for their coach's death," Mannarino said. "As far as we know, our game was scheduled for the day of his funeral. We though it was inappropriate and disrespectful to play on that day."

Paschall died on Jan. 3 and his team decided that it wanted to honor its coach by playing its upcoming scheduled game. Bishop Ford's administration backed out of a game on Jan. 5 and Christ the King followed suit for its Jan. 7 game. Nazareth finally got to play both teams this week and beat both in convincing fashion

Nazareth was not happy at the time that the teams backed out on them.

"I think it's disrespectful," Nazareth co-coach Ron Kelley said at the time. "He was our coach, our friend and our confidant, and my mentor and a father figure to our girls here. If we choose to have the game and play the game, then I would think everybody would try to respect our wishes in doing so.

"If God forbid this happened to somebody else, I would say, anything you want us to do, we'll do. That would be my answer. These young ladies have been through a tragedy. I think that what they want to do is what we should be doing."

Lady Kingsmen players Darius Faulk and Bianca Cuevas both did not seem that concerned with whether those teams will have to forfeit the games. Cuevas didn't see why the teams would have to forfeit and Faulk said she wouldn't mind playing those teams again.

"It would be better because we could do it all over again," said Faulk, who did add that she's pleased the teams are being punished because Nazareth wanted to play those games.

Nazareth co-coach Lauren Best said that she believes that everybody should have played her team the first time they were scheduled. While she didn't outright say she agreed with the punishment, she hinted that she believes the punishment would be just.

"I think the punishment should fit the crime," Best said. "If it was us, you might not see us for the rest of the season, that's what the rule says."

CK coach Bob Mackey had no comment about the committee's recommendation.

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Rapid Reax: (1) Nazareth 73, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) 61

January, 28, 2012
Nazareth girls didn’t pressure the ball early. They let the opponent hang around. Then the second it became too close, too late in the game, Nazareth slammed Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) Saturday at the JFK Challenge. It was like coach Apache Paschall never left the bench.

“I always feel like he’s with me, but especially today,” co-head coach Lauren Best said. “This was typical him.”

Best and Ron Kelley manned the bench for Nazareth, playing for the first time at JFK without Paschall, who died earlier this month. The No. 7-ranked team in the country would have made their late coach proud. Paschall would always hold back his team’s press and surprise teams later with his squad’s relentless trapping defense.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Nazareth started slowly, which left the door open for a 3-point-crazy Point Pleasant Boro. Even with that, Nazareth built a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter. The score was tied at 29 with two minutes left in the half and Nazareth led 35-29 at halftime. When the Brooklyn squad couldn’t find easy baskets early, it relied on Brianna Butler, who scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half.

“In the first half they stayed with us because we didn’t play any defense,” Butler said. “We just had to step it up.”

Point Pleasant Boro stayed close early in the third, mostly behind Kelly Hughes, who scored a game-high 23 points. Nazareth never fully showed the full-court pressure that the team is known for but began dialing up man-on-man pressure on the guards and posted a 16-0 run. Nazareth went ahead 57-40 at the start of the fourth quarter and Boro never recovered.

TURNING POINT: The game had the feel that it could be a blowout, even though it was close. Nazareth seemed like it could get anywhere the team wanted offensively. But Lindsey Havens hit a 3-pointer that put Nazareth’s lead at 41-40 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. Then West Virginia-bound senior Darius Faulk drove to the lane for a layup for Nazareth and later forced a turnover and converted another. Her back-to-back layups sparked a 16-0 run. Faulk scored eight of her 12 points during the run. Nazareth outscored Point Pleasant Boro 24-2 over the next eight minutes from the middle of the third and halfway into the final period.

STAR OF THE GAME: Butler’s 16 points kept Nazareth’s offense going in the first half but it was Faulk’s defensive pressure and penetration in the third quarter that ignited the team. Yasmine Belk also added 20 points.

UP NEXT: Nazareth will face DePaul (N.J.) Sunday at 4p.m. in the second day of the JFK Challenge.

Nazareth co-coaches trying to fill void

January, 26, 2012
The intimate moments off the court, those late nights driving back from a game or the nights they would have spent staying up late drinking together are now the hardest parts for Lauren Best and Ron Kelley.

On the court, it actually seems kind of easy. The biggest problem is the immense pressure they each feel as they try to fill the void Apache Paschall has left behind.

The iconic girls basketball coach died earlier this month at the age of 38 of a heart attack while he was undergoing radiation treatment for skin cancer. Now his assistant coaches have taken over his Nazareth team as co-coaches and are trying to live up to lofty expectations.

“I would hate for us not to reach our mission this year and it would be because of us,” Kelley said. “I truly believe that if he was here today he would lead these girls to a championship and we are under a lot of pressure not to let him down.

“It's a rough situation.”

Both coaches say that he has left them with the tools to live up to his legacy. The important thing for them is to put aside their egos and just to try to be themselves. They might also want to up their cell phone plans.

“I never imagined the number of phone calls he took, the stuff he had to do…” Kelley said trailing off as he shook his head. “The girls are always calling. It's not just them either; it’s everybody, parents, coaches, everybody and everybody. We’re talking people across the country.”

Best added, “The call volume must have increased by at least 80 percent.”

All joking aside though, the system that Paschall put in place is the same system that they will continue to use. It was almost like a three-coach system before he left and now it is simply a two-coach system.

“Fortunately we have been working together for a while now and we know each other and what our specific talents are,” Kelley said. “The important thing is putting our egos aside when we need to. We had that same challenge when Apache was here too so it’s nothing new.”

Neither coach wants to change too much of what has made them successful in the past even though sometimes it might be hard to do.

“It's a balance of being yourself and trying to fill his void,” Best said.

“It's hard,” Kelley added. “I’m trying to stay myself, but I'm kind of forced to change too. So many times I find myself asking, 'what would he say right now,' or, 'what would he do in this situation?'”

The biggest obstacle they face is trying to get the girls caught up. Best described the team as in “preseason mode” because they have played in so few games due to Paschall’s illness and his death. That has affected team in terms of being able to gain each other’s trust and mesh.

The Lady Kingsmen are going to make up for that soon though as they play four games in the next five days. Friday they play St. Francis Prep and then they play back-to-back non-league games on Saturday and Sunday before facing a tough league rival in Bishop Ford on Tuesday.

It’s a good thing this stretch is coming up because Best did not like what she saw out of the team on Saturday when Nazareth lost to Riverdale Baptist (Md.) 83-47 in its first game since Paschall’s funeral.

“You can see it in the kids’ faces, mentally they are not there yet,” Best said. “We’ve got to get them there though. They’ve been through a lot, but it’s up to us to fill that void. It’s our responsibility to them and their families that we not let them down.”

Rough week for Nazareth as it waited to play

January, 20, 2012
All they wanted to do was play.

As the Nazareth girls basketball team's players grieved following the death of their head coach, Robert "Apache" Paschall, on Jan. 3, the Lady Kingsmen hoped to return to the court, wanting the chance to honor their coach.

It took eight days and the team saw two games get canceled, but on Jan. 11, Nazareth finally got to play against Molloy, a game the Lady Kingsmen won. It was one of the roughest weeks of the players' lives and one that saw them leaning on each other.

"Losing our coach was a big toll," senior guard Brianna Butler said. "We just had to stay together.

Paschall died in the hospital at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 3 and by 5 p.m. that night, assistants Lauren Best and Ron Kelley, and a group of Nazareth players, both past and present, gathered at the hospital.

Initially, Kelley had decided that the best thing was to cancel a scheduled game against Bishop Ford on Jan. 5. After the grief stricken girls got together, they decided that the best way to honor his memory would be to play the game as scheduled.

“They said, 'Coach no, what are you doing? We want to play Thursday,'” Kelley explained. “They told me that they all got together and talked about it and said that they want to play because Apache would want us to play. So I said fine, I’ll make the phone calls and we'll play.”

That game would never happen though. Ford’s administration decided it wouldn’t let kids make such an important call and postponed the game against their wishes. The next day, Christ the King, also postponed a game scheduled for Jan. 7.

For a group of girls who desperately wanted to play, not because they wanted to, but because they felt compelled to, this was very upsetting.

“It was hard because we all wanted to play and get out there to make Apache happy and the fact that no teams wanted to play us was very upsetting,” Butler said. “We called at least 20 schools to find somebody else to play and couldn’t find one team. It felt like nobody wanted to play us, nobody had the respect to play us.”

So the girls did the only thing they felt like they could do – continue to go to practice everyday and wait and hope that eventually they would play in a game. Even after it was clear they wouldn’t be playing until Jan. 11, the girls kept checking Facebook or hoped for their phones to ring with news that they had found a replacement team to play.

"He used basketball as a sanctuary and for us it is always a comfort to be able to play," Best said. "To be in the gym, to be at practice and to have games, that's a comfort."

Before that game against Molloy, they held a memorial in Paschall’s honor. Principal Providencia Quiles spoke about the trouble Paschall had caused her and the strong relationship that formed out of all of that trouble.

His mother, Elaine Bartlett, spoke about his ability to find something in nothing and his dedication to his girls. His daughter, Nytaea Satara Pascall, fought through tears to say that all she ever wanted to do was to make her father happy.

Finally, Best and Kelley spoke with Nazareth’s current squad lined up behind them. When they were done, each girl picked up a rose and placed it on his usual spot on the team’s bench. Each of them was in tears as they went back to the coaches' office to compose themselves.

After about 10 minutes, Nazareth took to the court and did the only thing they wanted to do for over a week – they played basketball.

"This week has been hard, disappointing, we've all been upset," senior guard Darius Faulk said. "It's been a tough week."

Apache Paschall remembered

January, 14, 2012
Robert “Apache” Paschall was a lot of things to a lot of people. He was a son, a brother, a father, a friend, a coach and a leader. Mostly, though, Paschall was in trouble.

“My son did not follow the rules,” Paschall’s mother, Elaine Bartlett, said, “because he knows that the rules were not put into place to help the ones that needed help the most.”

At his funeral on Saturday at the United House of Prayer in Harlem in front of about 250 people, those were the two biggest messages relayed by the nearly dozen speakers -- the trouble Paschall caused and his will to help others. Paschall, 38, died on Jan. 3 of heart failure while battling an aggressive form of skin cancer.

Conflict seemed to follow Paschall around. Even after his death there was controversy over when his Nazareth team should be allowed to return to the court. But more than anything, his life was about helping others.

“That’s how you knew you loved Apache,” said Carlos Semple, an original Exodus member. “He pissed you off, but then the next day you couldn’t wait to see him.”

The funeral itself was light-hearted, as many said Paschall would have liked. Among the speakers were Apache’s mother and his daughter, Nytaea Satara Paschall.

Perhaps the most touching speech came from the mother of his longtime friend and assistant, Lauren Best. Wanda Via spoke about meeting Paschall for the first time and why he never left their lives.

“Apache had four passions in life,” Via said. “Basketball, helping others, his daughter and my cooking.”

Afterwards, everyone talked about how beautiful the funeral was and also how little some of them actually knew about Paschall.

“We call Apache the mystery man,” Ron Kelley, his assistant coach at Nazareth said. “Apache put everybody in a certain circle, but they were separated and only connected by him. So one circle would know a set of stories and another circle would know another. So to hear the stuff that I heard was fun to hear. It was insightful and it was like, ‘Wow, who would have thought.’ ”

Ultimately, though, the biggest thing that mourners, especially the players he coached, took away from the funeral was to carry on Paschall’s legacy. Love him or hate him, his intentions were to help others.

Now that he’s gone, that burden falls upon those left behind.

“All he ever wanted out of me was for me to make it in life,” said Tiffany Jones, who played for Paschall at Nazareth last year. “Now you have no choice but to make it, that's what he wanted. If he was here, he'd be pushing us all to it.

“Now he's not here. He never let us down. We can't let him down.”

Rapid Reaction: Nazareth 77, Molloy 63

January, 11, 2012
It's been two weeks since Nazareth has taken the court, but once the Lady Kingsmen finally did it was like the game didn't even matter.

"This game was so emotional, said Nazareth's Brianna Butler. "Losing our coach was a big toll, but playing, being out here on the court, it was just something that he would have wanted us to do. It didn't feel right not playing this past week. We felt like we were almost letting him down."

The Lady Kingsmen finally took to the court Wednesday night for the first time following the death of their coach Apache Paschall, who was dealing with skin cancer when he passed away of a heart attack on Jan. 3. Since that time they had two games cancelled against their wishes, but they finally got a chance to play Molloy, beating them 77-63 at home, in a game that was both highly emotional and cathartic at the same time.

"We were just upset, all week we wanted to play but they wouldn't let us play," senior guard Darius Faulk said. "It was just very upsetting."

Robert Abruzzese/ESPNNewYork

Before the game there was a ceremony held in Apache's honor. Principal Providencia Quiles introduced his mother, Elaine Bartlett, and his daughter, Nytaea Satava Paschall, who both fought back tears as they spoke to the crowded gym. Then assistant coaches Ron Kelley and Lauren Best addressed the gym with a lineup of crying girls behind them. Afterwards the girls each put a rose on the seat where Apache normally would have sat before going into the coach's office to take a break before starting the game.

"I didn't say much at that time," Kelley explained. "I was crying myself so I didn't say too much. I just said, 'ladies, let it all out. Let it out now.' After about 10 minutes I said, 'let's go, let's get back to business,' and that's exactly what they did."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The game was like an afterthought. Everybody involved was just relieved that they finally got a chance to get out on the court again and start to put this behind them so it didn't matter if they won or lost.

When the game started things were a little sloppy. In the first two minutes there were turnovers all over the court, bad shots, missed passes. Molloy struck first going up 5-0 on a pair of baskets by Amani Tatum and Kamille Ejerta, two girls who played for Apache's Exodus AAU squad.

It didn't take long until Nazareth's immense talent took over though. Jazmine Belk hit a layup that eased the tension and started the ball rolling. Then Bianca Cuevas started raining three's as the Lady Kingsmen went on an 11-0 run that put them up 22-13 after the first quarter.

There was more tension in the second quarter as the girls struggled through their emotions to find consistency. They found it in the second half though as Nazareth started the third quarter out with a strong 12-2 run that gave them a commanding 52-33 lead that they would never relinquish.

Robert Abruzzese/ESPNNewYork
Bianca Cuevas

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bianca Cuevas was often the center of Apache's attention for both good and bad reasons. Apache mentored her because of her immense talent, but he also had to spend time with her because of both on and off the court shenanigans she gets herself into. She was also the first one to break down in their first practice the Wednesday following his death.

So it was almost appropriate that the sophomore took over the game with her long distance three-point shots that would make an NBA player jealous. She led the game with 28 points and always was there with a big basket anytime it looked like Nazareth had fallen into the trap of just going through the emotions. Without her stellar play it is hard to imagine Nazareth winning this game.

UP NEXT: Nazareth will head to Bishop Ford this weekend as it will participate in the Rose Classic against St. Anthony's on Sunday. Molloy will also take part in the Rose Classic when it takes on Bowie (Md.) on Saturday afternoon.

Nazareth, Ford at odds about game

January, 4, 2012
The death of Nazareth girls basketball head coach Apache Paschall has two CHSAA schools at odds about whether they should be playing a scheduled league contest.

Nazareth and Bishop Ford were scheduled to play Thursday but Bishop Ford has said it is postponing the game out of respect for Paschall. Nazareth, meanwhile, intended to play the game to honor its coach and did not agree to the postponement and is not pleased.

"His legacy and what Apache believed in, no matter what, he never quit and he never gave in and if he already had those games on the schedule then that's what supposed to go on," Paschall's mother, Elaine Bartlett, said. "I don't see any reason for any postponing. If anything, they should have been more supportive and go ahead and play in his name."

Paschall, one of the most successful and well-known girls coaches in both New York City and the country, died on Tuesday afternoon. The cause of his death is not yet known but the coach had been battling skin cancer after being diagnosed in October.

According to Nazareth assistant Ron Kelley, the Lady Kingsmen went to the hospital last night and decided that they wanted to play the game in honor of their coach as they believed that he would have been at that game no matter the circumstances. Bishop Ford coach Mike Toro and his team were also prepared to play the game as well, according to Kelley.

On Wednesday, Bishop Ford's administration decided to postpone the game. Bishop Ford Men's Athletic Director Pete Goyco said the decision came from President Ray Nash and Principal Frank Brancato and that the game has not been rescheduled as of Wednesday night.

"We just felt that it was out of respect for Apache," Goyco said. "When someone passes away, you want to pay respect for that person and we just felt that it was something that was done out of respect for him."

He added: "As far as our administration, being that they are educators and out of respect for the gentleman that passed way, they just felt that being a Catholic school, it was the right thing for us to do."

For as honorable as Bishop Ford's intentions may be, Nazareth does not share the same sentiment. They wanted to play the game between the squads, both of who are ranked in the top 10 in's girls basketball poll.

"I think it's disrespectful," Kelley said. "He was our coach, our friend and our confidant, and my mentor and a father figure to our girls here. If we choose to have the game and play the game, then I would think everybody would try to respect our wishes in doing so.

"If God forbid this happened to somebody else, I would say, anything you want us to do, we'll do. That would be my answer. These young ladies have been through a tragedy. I think that what they want to do is what we should be doing."

Nazareth Athletic Director Rochelle Murphy said she's at a loss of words as to why the game is being postponed because her school never agreed and she even spoke to Ford Women's Athletic Director Eileen Egan and expressed that her players wanted to play.

She said that she has contact Brooklyn/Queens Girls CHSAA President Denise Hillig about the matter and she believes that Bishop Ford potentially might have to forfeit the game instead of it being a postponement since the two schools did not agree. Attempts to reach Hillig on Wednesday night were unsuccessful.

"We want to play and even the grief counselors had supported them playing," Murphy said. "They said it was a good idea for them to play. I'm not quite sure why the Ford administration is taking this stance."