Mazella honored with Henninger court dedication

With all the time he spent inside Henninger High School's gymnasium, shaping the basketball games - and lives - of his students, Joe Mazella left a permanent imprint long before he passed away Sept. 12 at the age of 51.

On Friday night, that imprint got official status with the dedication of "Joe Mazella Court" in a ceremony prior to Henninger's season opener against Christian Brothers Academy in the annual Peppino's Invitational.

A standing room-only crowd packed into the Steven W. King Center, from current students to many of Mazella's past players.

Members of Mazella's family, including his widow, Janice, his three daughters and his parents, accepted an official proclamation from the Syracuse City School District renaming the court.

Janice, a teacher at Lincoln Middle School, told the crowd her husband would be surprised by the honor -and would use it as a way to inspire his students.

"He'd be a bit shocked," Janice said. "I do still think that he could not possibly imagine the impact he had on so many people."

Henninger's athletic director, Ari Liberman, said that outsiders might consider the love and affection given to Mazella as hard to believe - but not those that knew him.

"The magnitude of the impact this man had on this community is quite believeable," Liberman said.

Unable to attend the ceremony, Syracuse schools superintendent Dan Lowengard sent a letter of congraulations, saying that Mazella touched people's lives with his "humor, enthusiasm and commitment to his players. His legacy will live on."

The words Joe Mazella Court, in black and gold, are painted on either side of the center circle, but the tributes don't stop there.

Just outside the gymnasium is a new display case, featuring plaques commemorating all five of the Henninger teams Mazella coached to Section III championships, including the 2002 state title squad.

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