EGG HARBOR CITY - Michael Stefanski wanted his daughters to play a sport. Basketball was an easy choice.
The daughters - Mikila, Mercina, Morgan and Monique - are quadruplets and with Michael playing center, the family formed a five-player team.
Michael nailed a hoop on a balcony overlooking the driveway of the family home.
"The one thing we could all do was basketball," Michael said. "What did I need? A little hoop."
Friday was the day the Stefanski family had been waiting for since the quadruplets started dribbling at age 4.
The four, now all 14, played as freshmen for the Cedar Creek High School girls basketball team. Cedar Creek beat Cape May Tech 65-60 in the first girls varsity basketball game in school history.
"I was really nervous," Monique said. "This is what we've always dreamed of. It feels like our work has paid off."
The 5-foot-6 Mikila started at point guard and scored 13 points and had three assists. The 5-8 Morgan and 5-5 Monique came off the bench. Morgan scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Her 3-pointer with three minutes left gave Cedar Creek the lead for good.
Monique scored four points. Mercina, who is 5-5, cheered from the bench. She couldn't play because of a broken finger.
"Imagine how nervous I was," Mercina said. "I couldn't do anything. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time."
The quadruplets are the product of in vitro fertilization. They were born April 1, 1995.
"My wife and I tried for 10 years to have kids," Michael said. "We were perfect candidates for in vitro."
Marian thought she was having boys.
"I was sicker than a dog, and everybody tells you if you feel like that, you're going to have boys," she said with a laugh. "It was a trip."
The Stefanskis are from Middletown, Monmouth County. The family moved to Mullica Township six years ago.
"It got a little too crowded up there," Michael said.
Michael is a contractor with Lowe's hardware stores. Marian is a secretary at Cedar Creek.
The quadruplets are not identical. Monique is the only blonde.
Each has her own personality.
"Mikila is the leader," Michael said. "Mercina is a leftover hippie from the '60s. She has a great heart. Monique is into all the modern stuff, hair and makeup. Morgan is the jock."
Michael hardly played basketball growing up.
"I was the kid who after the team was picked was one of three guys standing on the side," he said with a laugh.
But he taught his daughters the proper way to shoot.
"When we first started, they didn't even come close (to the rim)," he said. "I just said, ‘Keep shooting. You'll grow into it.'"
Michael said the four are natural athletes, but the family concentrated on basketball.
"They did dance and stuff when they were younger," Marian said. "But when they got to second grade, they said we don't want to do anything else but basketball."
The girls spent hours practicing. They played on several AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) summer teams and school teams.
"It's not just a sport," Mikila said. "It's something we do every single day. It creates opportunities, friends."
The four know each other so well they can communicate a pass or a certain play with just a look.
They also push each other.
"We're always competing," Mercina said. "We compare how many points we score, how many assists we have."
Cedar Creek opened in September with freshmen and sophomores attending.
Only a few of the school's team sports are playing varsity schedules in 2010-11. The boys basketball team is playing a junior varsity schedule. A big reason why the girls have a varsity team is the depth the quadruplets provide.
"They're still learning the game," Cedar Creek coach Francine Raph said. "They're learning high school basketball. They're playing against 18- and 19-year-olds. But they have a lot of talent. They can all shoot the lights out. They're very fundamentally sound."
Friday's game showed how much basketball means to the family.
Marian took tickets at the door to the gym. Michael sat in the bleachers at center court and videotaped the game.
The stands were packed for Friday's game.
The quadruplets were thrilled to be part of Cedar Creek history.
"We can go to school Monday saying we won the first game in Cedar Creek history," Mikila said.
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