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Brandon Alternative High School hoops scoring big with teens

Front from left, CJ Willoughby, Aaron Hanley, Mike Rathka, Brenden Benedict, Justin Baron and Jacob Dyer. Back row from left, Antoine Anthony, Chris Bowling, Jeff Vrooman, Tyler Schiedegger, Mark Kalfayan and Cristina Bombardo (teacher.) The Bullfrogs basketball team. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
January 11, 2012 - It's just six basketball games.

However, for a team of 12 Brandon Alternative High School students known as the Bullfrogs, a few hours each week on the hardwood has sparked some added interest in education, teamwork and lots of fun.

Brandon English teacher Cristina Bombarbo, who organized the team, said it's more than just a game to the players.

"Students ask for something to do after school," said Bombardo, a 1999 Brandon High School graduate and Brandon Alternative High School student council advisor. "It's all about keeping your grades up and attending school to stay on the team. It gives the students another reason to be here and a chance to play on a team."

The team is sponsored by local businesses Bullfrogs Bar and Grill and Alpine Roofing. Funding is needed for uniforms and referees.

Brandon Alternative High School is for students who need an alternative to the traditional high school setting. Students will receive a Brandon High School diploma once they have met the graduation requirements.

Bombarbo's younger brother, Matheu Fulisz, a 2001 Brandon High School graduate, coaches the players, who range in age from 14- to 18-years-old. The Bullfrogs' first game was Dec.16 and they play other alternative schools in the district.

"Just can't get the players to leave school now," Bombardo laughed.

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