But after the Lions upset favorite Hudson Catholic, 64-56, in the championship game last Wednesday night, there were very few doubters.
Plain and simple, the Lions were for real.
“Things just fell into place for us,” said Lincoln head coach Bill Zasowski. “I was talking to my assistant coaches and Ed Molloy [a long-time St. Anthony assistant coach] is now on staff with me. I looked at the program and it said that St. Anthony won the league 12 times and others won, but no Jersey City public school. But now, it’s Lincoln. That’s pretty good.”
Zasowski said that word of the victory traveled fast.
“I started hearing from everyone [on Thursday],” Zasowski said. “Word was traveling all over the place. People up at the Poconos [Invitational] heard about it. I was getting amazing feedback on a positive note. People were thrilled and overjoyed for us.”
Zasowski said that he loved the way his team came together throughout the summer.
“We played well all summer,” Zasowski said. “Donte [Darby] and D.J. [Henderson] were unbelievable all summer. They gave us the will to win.”
Darby was especially ungodly, scoring 36 points in the title game, 24 of which came in the first half, clinching the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
“It’s a great feeling,” Darby said. “We’re the first public school to win the league. We’re on the radar now. People know we’re a good team after we beat some good teams. Now people are noticing that we’re a good team. Everyone on the team contributed. Everyone is happy. Everyone has been working our butts off to get where we are.”
Zasowski was asked if he truly thought the Lions had a chance to win the league.
“I thought we would be competitive,” Zasowski said. “For me, it’s just trying to get them to play at a different pace. Other teams might have had taller, quicker athletes. But we just let our kids play and they played hard. They worked with each other. We beat Hudson Catholic and the Patrick School, two teams that will be among the top 10 in the state. I think the important thing was that we found ways to win.
Added Zasowski, “All summer long, they made things happen with their defense. We got something to draw from. We played from behind. We played with a lead. We know what to expect when we play Hudson. This gives us a chance to beat them when it counts. At least it’s in the back of their heads that we won.”
Darby, who was busy last week attending Bob Hurley’s basketball camp in the Poconos, knows what the win in the title game will do.
“Everyone was coming here thinking that they would see Hudson Catholic blow us out,” Darby said. “But it was all about confidence and we had the confidence. We really wanted to win the game and wanted to prove that we didn’t get there for no reason. It’s all about confidence. We had a lot of confidence.”
Darby is hopeful that his great summer will lead to a college scholarship somewhere. He has the grades to be eligible and it certainly appears as if he has the talent. Now all he needs is the shot. Here’s to hoping someone recognizes this shining star very soon…
The Hoboken Shockers’ run in the RBI Softball World Series in Cincinnati came to an end last Friday, when the locals dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 decision in 11 innings to Hawaii. But the locals won three games in Cincinnati and finished among the top four in the tourney, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
But head coach Vinnie Johnson was hopeful to have a higher finish this year and it didn’t happen. Johnson recovered well. The day after returning from Cincy, Johnson was back in football mode, getting the equipment ready for the Hoboken High football team…
YES Network analyst Jack Curry who was featured in a recent Scoreboard column for being giving of his time to some young ladies at his high school alma mater, namely Hudson Catholic, was misrepresented as being an All-County second baseman.
The truth of the matter is that Curry was an outfielder. This reporter must have had his memory clouded after 35 years. Apologies to Curry for any embarrassment the error might have caused. It certainly did not detract from a great story and his great generosity…
Next week, we will begin our tour of the Hudson County gridiron warriors with previews of all the teams in the county. The season begins locally Sept. 1 when state-ranked St. Peter’s Prep plays host to Union City. We will have features on both teams next Sunday, as well as one other team. And there will be in depth previews with heights, weights, numbers, statistics, you name it, over the next four weeks with visits to all of Hudson County’s gridiron teams. – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.