When Marc Deperno of the Sitrin Medical Rehabilitation Center booked Syracuse University seniors Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije to headline this year's Sitrin STARS Wheelchair Basketball Classic, he never thought it would be this big.

That's because when he booked the two Orange standouts, many people questioned

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whether Syracuse University's basketball team would even make the NCAA tournament.  Now, just two weeks from the event, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije are playing on college basketball's biggest stage, the NCAA Final Four in Houston.

"As a lifetime Orange fan in a community filled with Orange pride, I was excited to learn of their initial support for our event.  Now, as they compete in the Final Four, I am overjoyed," said Deperno. "There is no question that their participation will result in a tremendous turnout and create wonderful memories for all that attend as well as raise awareness and funds for our STARS athletes."

Cooney and Gbinije will join Olympic bronze medalist, Erin Hamlin and a host of local celebrities in the rehab center's 14th Annual Sitrin Celebrity Classic Wheelchair Basketball Game on Thursday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Utica College Clark Athletic Center.

"We could be playing with two national championship players," said Jim Rondenelli of WIBX News, who will be playing along with WIBX's Bill Keeler at the event. "It was really exciting to hear a few weeks ago these two guys were going to be playing; but, nobody ever thought this Syracuse team would ever have gotten this far," he added.

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Spectators will be able to grab autographs and raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to compete in three-point competition against Gbinije and Cooney during halftime.

Tickets are only $10 for adults, $5 for students (all ages) and free for children under the age of five.   Tickets are available at Sitrin and will also be available at the door.  Call 737-2459 for more details.

All proceeds benefit the Sitrin STARS adaptive sports program.

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The Celebrity Classic is sponsored by Sitrin as well as these major sponsors: Fust Charles Chambers, News Channel 2, The Fountainhead Group, BNY Mellon, The Hartford, MetLife, Carbone Auto Group and Human Technologies.

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