Top Girls’ Basketball Team gets Hall of Fame visit announcing special invitation to championship event

Basketball legend makes surprise phone call to team member who was quarantined

MAHWAH, NJ – On Friday December 4th, the 7th Grade NJ Gym Ratz girls’ basketball team received a formal invitation to The Ladies Ball, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame national girls’ basketball championship.

The 7th Grade team has been winning big all spring, summer and fall beating teams their own age and many teams who are older in top national and regional tournaments. The team, made up of top lady ballers from North Jersey, Orange and Rockland County, New York, are known for practicing hard, playing hard and never giving up according to their coaches. Their hard work was rewarded when representatives from The Ladies Ball paid a visit to Downtown Sports in Mahwah, New Jersey, the team’s practice site, to extend a formal invitation to the exclusive championship event.

“What a reward,” stated Coach Adam Brown who has been coaching many of the girls for several years. “These girls truly represent the best definition of team. I am so excited for them to earn this national opportunity. They are very deserving.”

The NJ Gym Ratz team will represent one of only two teams chosen from North Jersey in the 7th grade division. As the selection process has been ongoing for the past few months, the National Selection Team reviewed their nomination submission and took notice of the team’s active and competitive schedule playing many top teams. A live visit, along with game film, showcased a very talented roster at many positions.

“In addition to the intangibles, this team also features size and athleticism up front, great guard play and game-changer in Addison Platt who deserves national attention,” stated Bob Geoghan, who is Chairman of The Ladies Ball National Selection Team and also creator of the McDonald’s All-American Boy and Girls Game on ESPN. Geoghan has a long history of evaluating and selecting the best of the best when it comes to girls’ basketball.

At the press conference event, all the girls shared their team journey and favorite parts of the playing basketball together with Kate McGuinness, Executive Director of The Ladies Ball, who was on hand to watch their workout, celebrate their journey and provide the official invitation.

“What a great bunch of girls, so talented and so hardworking,” stated McGuinness, “I love that, despite the current challenges, they have kept showing up for themselves and their teammates working to get better every day.”

There was a missing piece to the evening as their team’s center, Toni Pernetti, was at home due to a quarantine stemming from a possible school exposure. Pernetti joined her team via FaceTime for the event, but also received a surprise call at home from a basketball legend, Mary Schrad. Recognized in 2018 by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as a Trailblazer, Schrad extended a personal invitation to Toni and had the chance to learn about the center over a 20-minute call covering topics such as defense, block shots and free throw shooting. “I met a super young lady by phone and can’t wait to see Toni and her team compete,” stated the Hall of Fame Trailblazer.

Kate McGuinness and her husband founded the U.S. Army Bowl on NBC for the nation’s top football preps twenty years ago and wanted to build something special for young girls who play club basketball. They spent six years supporting their daughter, a point guard, through travel basketball and wanted to see a bigger more exciting event for girls nationally with all the bells and whistles including national television.

“This is the Little League World Series meets March Maddness for girls’ basketball. It’s long overdue and we are so excited to bring it to life,” stated McGuinness.

The NJ Gym Ratz will represent North Jersey in the regional bracket set for September 11-12, 2021 in Scranton PA. This bracket will feature top teams from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C. Winners of this bracket will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee on October 23-25th, home to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, to play against top teams from other parts of the country in the National Championship.

Watch and Follow Athletes – 7th Grade Gym Ratz:

Madeline ‘Maddy’ Zuppe (PG) – Runs the show for the NJ Gym Ratz who controls her team with great tempo and strong passing ability. A quality point guard who also has the ability to score in many ways when needed and can knock down the open three. A highly efficient point guard with a great turnover to assist ratio. Second on team in 3-point percentage, free throw percentage and assists per game.

Mia Washington (SG) – A shooting guard who features an ability to play lock-down perimeter defense and cause turnovers. Plays at fast pace up and down the court and displays great skill and footwork throughout her offensive game. Highly efficient athlete who provides a strong backcourt with Zuppe. Second on team scoring average and to field goal shooter.

Toni Pernetti (C)– Keys the team defense with strong interior defensive ability. Throw-back style physical defender who thrives on contact and owns the paint. Led team in offensive rebounds and blocks. Most efficient player against plus/minus data, who finished second on team in total rebounds and steals.

Addison ‘Addy’ Platt (W) – Long and athletic wing player that has elite offensive ability. Finishes at the rim in multiple ways including a go-to Euro step. Good shooting range. Strong defender with excellent weak side help ability. Leads team in field goal percentage, points per game, rebounds, assists and steals for the fall season. Has the ability to take over, dominate and win games with her ability. Will be a candidate for an invite to the National Showcase event as well.

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