THE STORY: The Niagara Falls High School boys basketball team finished the 2004-05 season nationally ranked with a 28-1 record. The team finished the season with both the state and Federation championships.



WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The Wolverines electrified fans and brought excitement and pride to the Falls area as the team picked up momentum through the season and into the playoffs. When the team was crowned state champs in Glens Falls, hundreds of Falls students and residents were on hand to cheer the team on.



WHAT HAPPENED: The Wolverines eventually won their first state title Sunday with a 69-58 victory over New Rochelle in the New York State Class AA championship at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The team finished the season ranked third in the nation, according to USA Today — although other publications had the Wolverines as high as No. 1.



The players

- Coach Dan Bazzani: led the team to its first state title. Along the way he was named USA Today’s High School Basketball Coach of the Year. USA Today General Manager Debra Swift, who presented Bazzani with honor, said that the selection of Bazzani was “overwhelming.”

- Paul Harris: The team’s standout player during the season and in the playoffs. He was named tournament MVP in Glens Falls.

- Miguel Respress: A promising Wolverine player, Respress collapsed after a game with the G.C. Ballers on July 28 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died a short time later.

- Ronnie Mansour: Just one of the many high school students who traveled with and helped support the Wolverines on the way to the state title. Mansour operated a dry-erase board during games writing out messages in support of the Falls, taunting opposing teams and fans and tallying how many dunks Wolverines players made with the “Dunk-O-Meter.”

Quotes of note

- “You only dream of stuff like this in high school basketball,” — Robert Garrison

- “It’s starting to hit me that we’ve done something great — not just for ourselves, but for the city and Western New York. This is big, and I really appreciate what the fans have done all season.” — Paul Harris

- “Miguel really will be watching us. Let’s make him proud.” — Coach Dan Bazzani

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