Pete Vincent didn’t have much time to think about the circumstances that got him his first head coaching position at Hudson Catholic High School.
After all, Vincent, the assistant athletic director at New Jersey City University, went from being an assistant coach with the girls’ team at Marist, before that regime was let go at the end of last season. Vincent then hooked on with Hudson Catholic before the summer began, to work as former Bayonne High and FDU star Christy Altimarano’s assistant.
But before the summer ended, Altimarano decided to attend graduate school, leaving the program in a lurch. Thus, Vincent was like Johnny-on-the-spot. The administration didn’t have to look far and wide for a replacement. Luckily, Vincent, a Jersey City native who played college basketball at Centenary College in Hackettstown, was there to step in.
“The good thing about the situation was that I coached them during the summer league,” Vincent said. “They became familiar with me to a degree. We went through a few changes, but they were subtle changes.”
Vincent said that he was encouraged by the turnout at tryouts.
“We had 15 girls, but eight of them were freshmen,” Vincent said. “That kind of helped a little, because I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. I was a new coach to most of the team.”
When practices began, Vincent was pleasantly surprised with the Hawks’ talent level.
“I knew Mikeera [Brown] from coaching against her,” Vincent said of the senior forward. “I knew she had the potential to be a good player. I knew the freshmen coming in could play. I knew that there was talent. I was definitely impressed with what we had.”
However, it wasn’t easy for a new coach to implement a system in just three weeks of preseason practice.
“I knew that there were a lot of things we had to cover,” Vincent said. “We had to spread out the practices, spending half the time on fundamentals. That helped to build team chemistry.”
In the preseason scrimmages, the Hawks struggled.
“We took our lumps in the beginning,” Vincent said.
Early on, the Hawks took on the two-time defending Hudson County champion Lincoln Lions and held their own.
“We were down three at halftime and right there, I saw some good things,” Vincent said. “We were down 11 in the third period. It showed that we had the ability to hang with a good team. I think it built the confidence a little.”
It led to an impressive five-game winning streak. The Hawks own a 7-4 record, after an impressive win over St. Dominic Academy, 46-44, the program’s big signature victory in the five-year history of girls’ basketball at the school.
“It definitely does help us,” Vincent said. “I think people will take us a little more seriously and opponents need to do their homework before facing us. Now, there’s a target on our backs that had never been there before. Our players have to accept that responsibility.”
The Hawks won nine games all of last year. They already have seven. It’s a program that is definitely on the rise.
Brown is the catalyst to the Hawks’ rise to prominence. The 5-foot-10 forward is averaging double figures in points and rebounds.
“I told her that her best basketball is in front of her,” Vincent said of Brown. “She’s been playing out of her mind for us. He’s definitely a legit player.”
Brown had a triple double _ double figures in points, rebounds and steals _ in the same game this year.
Freshman Tania Scott is the team’s point guard. The 5-foot-3 freshman “has taken control of the team and the offense,” according to Vincent. “She’s a very good leader and she’s very vocal. Everything about her game is solid.”
Nyla Mulcahy is another freshman starter. The 5-foot-8 forward “scores points in bunches because she’s such a good shooter,” said Vincent. “She’s also a good on-the-ball defender.”
Adrianna Blake is another freshman. The 5-foot-11 Blake is solid close to the basket and gets rebounds.
Junior Kristin Cunning is a 5-foot-6 junior who is also a softball standout. Sophomore guard Nalisha Mickens is a shooting guard who does a good job defensively. Junior Natalie Vargas is a 6-foot-1 junior transfer from St. Anthony who just became eligible after having to sit out due to the NJSIAA transfer rule.
Nadia Montgomery is a 5-foot-9 junior forward who is a solid rebounder and defender.
Sure, the Hawks are very young, but they are getting their first taste of big-time victories.
“We’re still learning, but we want to go out there and win some for Mikeera,” Vincent said. “We want to win as many times as we can for her. But I’m definitely surprised with the way we can stay with the level of competition. The freshmen came through and we’re playing to win.”
Not a bad way to be for a 30-year-old coach and his young roster…
One of Hudson County’s premier football players has secured a college scholarship.
Dominick Trautz, the talented quarterback from North Bergen, announced last week that he will attend Cheyney University in Pennsylvania on a scholarship.
Trautz, who threw for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last season for the Bruins, chose Cheyney over places like Millersville, New Haven and Pace. Cheyney is an NCAA Division II school.
“They treated me so well when I visited,” Trautz said of the reason to choose Cheyney. “It’s such a close knit group. I loved the campus. It’s a small campus, which I liked. The academics are excellent.”
Trautz is expecting to major in psychology at Cheyney. He might want to pursue a career in sports psychology.
“It’s a great feeling,” Trautz said. “I was so stressed out about what school I was going to go to. Now, I can enjoy the rest of my senior year, then get ready for college. I’m going to school and going to take full advantage of it.”
Trautz said he was glad to secure a scholarship to take the financial responsibility of college away from his mother, who is not well.
“It’s a huge burden off her,” Trautz said of his mother, who raised him alone. “I always worry about her. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about me.”
Trautz said that he will now monitor the progress of his 11-year-old brother, Xavier, an up-and-coming running back in the North Bergen Recreation program.
“He’s an up and coming superstar in North Bergen,” Trautz said…
It’s nice that St. Peter’s Prep will get a chance to play hockey at Yankee Stadium this week before the rink that the Rangers played on comes down.
But at what cost? Reports are saying that each school had to pay $12,000 in order to have the right to play there. Asking a private school to come up with $12,000 at the drop of a hat is downright ludicrous. The Yankees couldn’t afford to fit the bill? They just forked over $175 million for a Japanese pitcher. What’s 12K to the Yankees? It sure is a lot for Prep to come up with…
Two former Hudson Reporter All-Area basketball players reached the 1,000-point plateau Wednesday night at their respective colleges.
Marvin Williams, the former Marist standout, scored the 1,000th point of his career at Bloomfield College and Walik Albright, the former Create Charter star, scored his 1,000th point for New Jersey City University in a loss to Rutgers-Newark….
The Snyder boys’ basketball team has been playing well of late, winning five straight to improve to 7-4. D’Vontay Harris had 18 points and Isaac Neal had 11 in a win over Hoboken. Neal also had 16 in a win over Ferris…
St. Peter’s Prep has won seven straight thanks to the play of newcomers Veer Singh, who had 28 points, and fabulous freshman Nate Pierre-Louis, who had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a win over Memorial…
Lincoln’s power forward Kiante Johnson showed why she’s the best girls’ basketball player in the county, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in a 57-37 win over Marist…
Hudson Reporter Boys’ H.S. Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Anthony (12-3). 2. Hudson Catholic (13-2). 3. St. Peter’s Prep (12-2). 4. Bayonne (10-5). 5. Marist (9-5)…
Hudson Reporter Girls’ H.S. Basketball Top Five: 1. Lincoln (10-2). 2. Bayonne (12-2). 3. Secaucus (9-4). 4. North Bergen (11-3). 5. Marist (9-5)…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.