After defeating archrival St. Patrick's of Elizabeth, 64-52, Wednesday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center in the NJSIAA Parochial (Non-Public) B North finals, the undefeated Friars, still the top-ranked team in the entire country, are now just one win away from becoming the most prestigious basketball program in American history.
The fabulous Friars, now 29-0, only have to defeat Trenton Catholic Saturday at the Ritacco Center in Toms River to capture the school's 25th state championship, which would surpass the national record by Cheyenne Central High School of Wyoming.
It's a record that legendary head coach Bob Hurley has hoped to achieve for many years and has had to wait four years for, considering that St. Patrick's had defeated St. Anthony in the state playoffs in each of the last four years.
But now, it's the Friars' turn to celebrate and make plans for the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, which culminates with the final game at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford on Monday, March 17.
It's the 20th anniversary of the T of C, so it should only be fitting that the school that captured the first-ever T of C title should be in the running for the 20th anniversary version as well.
Mike Rosario, the McDonald's All-American, continued his fine play by scoring 19 points against St. Patrick's Wednesday night, including nailing two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
There were people who said that it came down to a one-game season for the Friars, namely facing nemesis St. Patrick's. Hurley insisted it was two games, throwing Paterson Catholic into the mix as well.
But the Friars handled Paterson Catholic before a packed house at the Golden Door Charter School on Monday night, 84-71. Two nights later, they disposed of St. Patrick's by 12.
It's beginning to look more and more like a historic undefeated run for the Friars...
Kevin Innis of St. Peter's Prep is the Athlete of the Week this week, but the sensational sophomore is not the only local wrestler headed to the NJSIAA state championships this weekend at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City with a region gold medal.
North Bergen senior Bobby Dabal captured his fourth straight Region 4 championship, becoming only the fifth wrestler ever to win four straight titles in that region. Dabal, now 36-0, won the title in the 130-pound class and is considered a favorite to win the state championship this weekend.
Secaucus' Bobby Roesing (36-2) also captured the Region 4 gold in the 160-pound weight bracket. Roesing and Innis are longtime friends and products of the Secaucus Recreation program. The town should be proud to have two region champs in the same year.
Finally, Jerome Otis-Harris of Bayonne rebounded after losing in the District 16 finals last week to capture the gold medal in the heavyweight division. Otis-Harris (29-1) is a favorite to win a medal this weekend in Atlantic City.
Also making the journey to Atlantic City are Prep wrestlers Ryan Dowd (112 pounds) and John Donaleski (135), Matt Trombetta of Secaucus (152), Jio Vazquez of North Bergen (160), Willie Rodriguez of Union Hill (103), and Jeremy Jermin of Hudson Catholic (215).
Rodriguez and Jermin are interesting stories. Rodriguez recently became the first District 16 champ in Union Hill history and will now go do down as the only Union Hill wrestler ever to compete in the NJSIAA state championships. Jermin, a gridiron standout who earned All-Area honors last fall, began wrestling this season and made it all the way to the Region 4 finals.
We'll have more from Atlantic City and the state tourney next week...
The Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame will hold its 19th annual induction dinner on Thursday, March 27 at the Casino-in-the-Park in Jersey City.
Once again, the induction class is filled with great names of the past, like former Wimbledon singles champion Dick Savitt of Bayonne; boxing heroes like Mark Medal of Jersey City and "Irish" Pat Murphy of North Bergen; coaching greats like Tony Falco of Secaucus, Phil Baccarella of Bayonne, and Bob Van Zanten of West New York; basketball legends like Harry Anderson of Weehawken, Darryl Strickland and Gail Marquis of Jersey City, and Keith Hockstein of North Bergen; track and field pioneer Louise Black of Jersey City; as well as the late Nat Hickey of Hoboken, who was the oldest player to ever play in the NBA at the age of 46.
National Soccer Hall of Famer Tab Ramos of Kearny and former Jet quarterback Ray Lucas of Harrison and two-sport standout Jim "Red" Connors of Bayonne are also being inducted, as well as Marty Seglio Community Service Award recipient Clayton Morrell Sr. of Union City Biddy basketball fame.
Outgoing St. Peter's College athletic director Bill Stein will receive a special award for his years of dedicated service and contributions to the Hall of Fame.
Tickets are priced at $60 and can be secured by contacting Beth Ruttler at the Hudson County Parks Department at (201) 915-1386...
The CREATE Charter fiasco has hurt the school in the eyes of the HCIAA, which has extended the school's probation for two more years and taken away the school's chance to compete in the HCIAA Seglio for boys' basketball for the next two years. It means that the school will not get a league schedule for boys' basketball and will not be able to compete for a league championship in that sport. It was the closest thing the league could do besides removing the school from the HCIAA altogether, an option that was under consideration...
Longtime St. Peter's Prep soccer coach John Irvine has decided to resign, turning over the reins of the program to former Secaucus coach Josh Jantas, who is a Prep grad and standout player at the school. Jantas, who was an assistant coach under Irvine before going to Secaucus, did a masterful job building the Secaucus program in his tenure there...
Congrats to both the Marist and Secaucus girls' basketball programs for taking it the extra yard in the NJSIAA state playoffs. Secaucus played for the sectional title and unfortunately came up a little short. Marist was slated to play for its sectional championship after press time Thursday... - Jim Hague