The 2013-14 high school basketball season presented plenty of memorable moments for Hudson County fans, highlighted by two teams earning NJSIAA state sectional championships, namely St. Anthony in the Non-Public B bracket and St. Peter’s Prep in the Non-Public A division. The Marauders repeated as state sectional champions for the first time in school history.
There were also the “three-peat” of champions locally, as Hudson Catholic won its third straight Hudson County Tournament title in the boys’ bracket and Lincoln captured its third consecutive county title among the girls’ teams, with both championship games thrillers that went down to the final seconds, with the losing teams missing shots in the waning moments that could have given their respective teams the title.
So it definitely was a season to remember, highlighted by the Hudson Reporter’s All-Area teams that were selected.
Among the boys, there was definitely a great amount of change. Among the girls, there were several players who earned repeat honors from a year ago.
First, the boys, which featured an entirely different First Team than what selected a year ago.
St. Peter’s Prep’s Austin White, who was a Second Team honoree last year, made the move up to First Team this season, courtesy of leading the high-powered Marauders in scoring. White, headed to High Point University in the fall, left his mark as only the ninth player in Prep history to ever eclipse the 1,000-point mark in his career _ and did so in only three years.
White is joined on the First Team by his teammate Veer Singh, who exploded onto the scene as a newcomer this season and became a vital cog in the Marauders’ offense. Only a sophomore, Singh definitely has a very bright future and looms as a top-flight Division I product down the road.
Also on the First Team are two members of the fabulous Friars of St. Anthony, namely senior point guard Tarin Smith and junior forward Markis McDuffie.
Smith was the stabilizing force for the Friars all season, leading the team both on and off the court. McDuffie displayed his huge talent, one that has college recruiters foaming at the mouth for the chance to get the talented McDuffie to go to their school. All the major colleges will come calling to see McDuffie within the next year.
The last honoree on the First Team is Hudson Catholic senior guard J.R. Lynch, who played a similar role that Smith played with the Friars.
Lynch went from a role player a year ago to the floor leader this season for the Hawks, leading the Boys from McGinley Square to their third straight county crown. Lynch will head to prep school St. Andrew’s in Vermont in the fall with the hope of hooking on with a Division I program the following year.
One thing’s for sure. The First Team is as diversely talented as we’ve had in Hudson County in quite a few years and all five will eventually play major college Division I basketball, which is a feat in its own right.
County champ Hudson Catholic had two honorees on the second team. St. Peter’s Prep has a Third Team selection as well in Nate Pierre-Louis, the lone freshman selected to the All-Area squad and the first since fellow Marauder Keith Lumpkin seven years ago. Lumpkin is now playing football at Rutgers.
The 2013-14 Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Player of the Year was a tough selection, but the nod goes to St. Anthony’s Smith, who really played such a gigantic role in the Friars’ state sectional championship season. Smith averaged close to 15 points and six assists per game. Smith recently declared his intentions to attend the University of Nebraska in the fall.
The 2013-14 Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Coach of the Year honor goes to Weehawken veteran Jake McNish, who saw his team rebound from an awful start to roll off an astounding 12 straight games and become contenders for state and league honors. McNish also earned his 300th coaching victory this season.
While there was an entire turnover on the Boys’ First Team, the 2013-14 Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball All-Area First Team features three players who earned First Team honors a year ago.
Secaucus’ Julia McClure, Bayonne’s Aneia Williams and Lincoln’s Kiante Johnson all repeated as First Team honorees.
The other two First Team members, namely Icies Hammer of North Bergen and Andie Lennon of Secaucus, earned Second Team honors last season and made the move up to First Team this year with solid play.
Two others, namely She’Kinah Suber of Lincoln and Hannah Johnson of St. Dominic Academy, repeated as Second Team All-Area honorees. Another, Jesenia Montalvo of Bayonne, was selected to the Third Team for a second straight season.
The 2013-14 Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Player of the Year is Lincoln junior forward Kiante Johnson.
Johnson had a huge responsibility, stepping in to replace two-time Reporter Player of the Year Breana Bey, but Johnson handled it with ease, averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game for the three-time defending county champs. Johnson will return next year with a chance to repeat as the top player in the county, just like her former teammate did. Johnson will also get a chance to play at a high level in college.
The 2013-14 Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Coach of the Year is Cathy Meyers O’Callahan of Dickinson.
O’Callahan, who previously earned Reporter Coach of the Year honors in 2005 when she was the coach at St. Anthony, guided the Rams to 16 wins this season, one year after winning just six times.
O’Callahan, a member of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame when she was a standout player at St. Anthony and later Montclair State, deserves the nod for having the fortitude to stick with the players at Dickinson. Just three years ago, the Rams won one solitary game. The Coach of the Year recognition is well deserved.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com.