For more than 40 years, St. Joseph of the Palisades High School’s athletic teams were identified with one man, namely Marty Seglio.
The late Seglio was the father figure of the entire school. He was the do-everything for the school located on Broadway in West New York. He was the football coach, the athletic director, the organizer, the fundraiser. If there was a broken door jam, Seglio fixed it. If the football helmets needed reconditioning, Seglio painted them. If a team was hungry, Seglio cooked the meals.
Marty Seglio left such a legacy to the people of St. Joseph and to the people of Hudson County that when the HCIAA was broken into two divisions eight years ago, the divisions were named after two legendary coaches and administrators from West New York, namely the late Joe Coviello and the late Marty Seglio.
The HCIAA will disband after this current scholastic school year, thanks to the NJSIAA realignment plan. So it means that this is the final year that the HCIAA Seglio Division championships will be crowned.
With that in mind, perhaps it was only fitting that the school that Marty Seglio gave so much of his life to should earn the last HCIAA Seglio Division boys’ basketball title.
“We did talk about it being the last chance to win a legitimate county championship,” said veteran St. Joseph head coach Damien Kennedy, who guided the Blue Jays to the first two HCIAA Seglio titles in 2001 and 2002. “I didn’t know Marty personally, but I know how much he meant to this place and did so much for this school. I thought it would be ironic if it ended that way, for us to win in the last year, being the last Seglio champion.”
“In a way, it is fitting,” said senior Leonel Carranza, who toiled for several different Blue Jay teams over the years and never had a chance to win a championship before. “We won the first one  and we felt like we deserved the last one. I worked really hard since freshman year to play for a winner.”
Sure enough, the Blue Jays got their title. They jumped out to a big early lead last Saturday against Hoboken in the HCIAA Seglio finale at St. Peter’s College, only to see the lead dissipate, then regained the lead in overtime to win, 54-46.
Incredibly, the Blue Jays reversed their regular season chances in both the semifinals and the finals. They lost twice to High Tech in the regular season, yet defeated the Lasercats to earn the berth into the finals. The Blue Jays also dropped two regular season games to the Red Wings, yet managed to topple the red-hot Red Wings in the title game.
“We beat the two teams that beat us,” Kennedy said. “It was pretty impressive.”
Here’s another remarkable feat. Ever since Hoboken joined the HCIAA Seglio a few years ago, St. Joseph never won once, losing 17 straight games.
“It was in the back of my mind all day, knowing we never beat them,” Kennedy said. “When they tied it up in regulation, I thought we could be in trouble. It could have been very easy for this team to go south, but they stayed together and did a great job.”
Khalil Brown, the 6-9 center who entered the season with such huge expectations, came up big in the playoffs. After scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the win over High Tech, Brown had 22 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Hoboken, earning MVP honors.
“He stepped it up big time,” Kennedy said. “Everyone was questioning how good he really was. I’ve been catching flack for him, because I was telling people he was good. I’m very happy for him because he did so well.”
Kennedy also credited the play of Carranza, T.J. Perez and Marcus Hunter.
“Those are kids who had been through so much,” Kennedy said. “Their expressions after the game said it all. They had finally won something. T.J. had 18 points against High Tech and Leonel made some big shots. Marcus is the guy who does all the dirty work and our best defender.”
And now, St. Joseph of the Palisades will forever hold the divisional title named after the most influential person in school’s history. Somewhere, Marty Seglio is smiling down on the Blue Jays…
Seglio, who was a driving force in the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame as a long-time committee member and also an inductee and who is forever remembered by the organization with the Marty Seglio Memorial Community Service Award, would be pleased with this year’s induction class.
The dinner will take place on Thursday, March 26 at the Casino in the Park in Jersey City and will feature this litany of excellent sports figures: boxing champ Emile Griffith; track standouts Al Adams, Thornton Smith and Tommy Downes; football and wrestling great Ted Klaube, baseball and football great Eddie Connors; Bill and Ken Frank, Jersey City natives and brothers who have won more than 1,000 games combined coaching baseball in Toms River; former North Bergen basketball coach John Barone; soccer great Connie Gallagher; coaching legend Paul Conway; former light heavyweight boxing contender Jimmy Dupree; former Major League Baseball pitcher Jeff Bittiger of Secaucus and the late Harry Massey of Jersey City.
Tickets for the dinner are priced at $65 and can be purchased by calling Beth Ruttler of the Hudson County Parks Department at (201) 915-1386. It should be a great evening…
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, a former inductee and great Hoboken sports figure, Jack Muraca, passed away this week after a brief illness. Muraca was a giant in the 1950s in the local sports scene and was even more of a giant as a loving, caring man who adored everyone he came across. It’s a huge loss and prayers go out to the entire Muraca family…
The Region 4 wrestling tourney will be held this weekend and several Hudson County wrestlers will compete, but the two to watch happen to both reside in the same town of Secaucus, namely Secaucus’ Bobby Roesing and St. Peter’s Prep’s Kevin Innis. Both have very good chances of moving on to the NJSIAA state tourney in Atlantic City next weekend…
Congrats to Bayonne and Holy Family Academy’s girls’ basketball teams for winning their respective HCIAA championships as well last Saturday. Bayonne took the Coviello title over Lincoln and HFA earned the Seglio crown over St. Mary’s of Jersey City. – Jim Hague