When a team loses six seniors, including three starters, to graduation, the expectations can’t be too high.
However, North Bergen’s girls’ basketball team never seems to suffer, despite the losses that come with commencement exercises every June.
The Bruins lost Doris Ilic, a Hudson Reporter All-Area First Team honoree last year. Ilic is now playing college basketball at Ramapo.
“We couldn’t replace Doris,” said North Bergen head coach Dan Reardon, who is now the granddaddy of all Hudson County high school girls’ basketball coaches. “I couldn’t be happier for her that she’s getting the chance to play at the next level. We had two returning starters and others that played a lot. I still think we’re a project in the works.”
Something is going right, because the Bruins own an 8-3 record thus far. They started off 8-1, before tough losses this week to Ridgewood (by one point) and Bayonne.
Leading the way is 6-foot-1 junior forward Icies Hammer, who has developed into one of the premier inside players in the county.
Hammer is averaging 18.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest.
“She’s handled everything well,” Reardon said. “She’s shooting 62 percent from the floor. We’re running more plays for her and she has the range to hit the outside shot as well. She’s really been doing it all.”
Another major contributor is the smallest player on the floor, namely sophomore point guard Jillian Jover, who stands all of 4-foot-10.
“One opposing coach called her a honey badger,” Reardon said of Jover. “Because she looks so cute, but then she’ll bite your hand off. She’s as tough as nails. She can handle the ball, shoot the ball. She can even take the ball to the basket. It’s nice to see her come along and get it done at a young age.”
Jover plays basketball all year round and is a standout on the AAU circuit.
“That has a lot of upside for us,” Reardon said. “The game she has is AAU oriented, fast paced.”
Senior Alyssa Marrero is a 5-foot-7 small forward.
“Alyssa is our 3-point shooter,” Reardon said. “She also rebounds well. She can handle the ball and rebound. That’s a tough responsibility. And I’m asking her to do more.”
Senior Stephanie Corella is a 5-foot-6 shooting guard.
“She’s our best athlete,” Reardon said. “She’s our best defender. She’s just a tough kid who gives us a little edge.”
Senior Naisia Fernandez is a 5-foot-8 forward who could be moved to guard if needed.
“She’s very athletic and physical,” Reardon said. “She can play the two [shooting guard] or the three [small forward].”
Freshman Nohelia Oliveras has made an immediate impact. The 5-foot-9 Oliveras plays forward.
“She’s a natural rebounder,” Reardon said. “She can come out of a crowd and end up with the ball. She just has that nose for the ball.”
Reardon is pleased with the Bruins’ start.
“I guess that’s all I could have hoped for,” said Reardon, whose team’s only other loss prior to Ridgewood and Bayonne was to Fair Lawn in overtime. “When you have a good point guard [Jover] and a center [Hammer], that certainly helps. The kids just come to play with a little passion. They are athletes. They fill their roles well. They also have a certain type of toughness that I like.”
As well Reardon should, considering the team’s record thus far…
Some other impressive basketball performances to note: Hudson Catholic girls’ basketball team, under the guidance of first-year head coach Pete Vincent, has won three games thus far, but the most impressive outing came from Mikeera Brown, who had an astounding 25 points, 12 rebounds and 11 steals in a recent win over University Charter. That’s the best triple-double these parts have seen in a while…
The St. Anthony boys’ squad might have suffered a loss to Paterson Eastside two weeks ago, but the Friars have recovered well, improving to 6-1 with a win over long-time rival Christian Brothers Academy last week. In that game, senior guard Tarin Smith had 16 points and Jagan Mosely had 14 points and six rebounds…
Hudson Catholic’s boys improved to 8-2 with a pair of solid wins over Bloomfield Tech and Snyder. Nassir Barrino had 18 points against Bloomfield Tech, which was where current Hawk head coach Nick Mariniello coached prior to his arrival at Hudson. Sammy Friday had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Snyder…
Devaughn Fishburne had 15 points and Antwand Williams had a triple double (10 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) in the Dickinson boys’ recent win over Carteret. Dickinson improved to 5-3 with that win…
In women’s college basketball, former St. Anthony standout Jasmine Brandon continues her fine play at The College of New Rochelle. Brandon scored 42 points in a recent game against Pine Manor, the second time this season she eclipsed 40 points in a contest. Brandon was named the Women’s Basketball Player of the Week by the Association of Division III Independents (AD3I) and the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Brandon is the only NCAA Division III women’s basketball player in the country to score more than 40 points in a game two times this season…
The North Bergen PAL power lifting program, highly successful for years, recently crowned two new champions.
Brothers Jacob and Matthew Appell both won their respective age divisions at the New Jersey state power lifting championships. Jacob won the 13-to-16 age bracket in the squat, bench and dead lift and Matthew took top honors in the 19-to-21 age class in the squat, bench and set a new New Jersey and national record with 550 pounds in the dead lift. This was the brothers’ first official competition…
The Demarest/Hoboken High School Sports Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for its Class of 2014. Anyone wishing to nominate an athlete must do so by listing accomplishments with documentation. Candidates must have graduated 10 years ago or more to be eligible. Send all information to Buddy Matthews at 15 Church Towers, Apt. 8L, Hoboken, 07030 or call (201) 424-5435. The Hall of Fame dinner is scheduled for April 12 at the Hoboken Elks…
Hudson Reporter Boys’ H.S. Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Anthony (6-1). 2. Hudson Catholic (8-2). 3. St. Peter’s Prep (7-2). 4. Bayonne (6-2). 5. Union City (5-3)…
Hudson Reporter Girls’ H.S. Basketball Top Five: 1. Lincoln (7-2). 2. Secaucus (5-3). 3. Bayonne (8-1). 4. North Bergen (8-3). 5. Marist (6-4)…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.