TASTY TIDBITS Weehawken girls’ hoop squad enjoying breakout campaign

Football coaches come and go; Marist girls remain unbeaten

IMPRESSIVE INDIANS – The Weehawken girls’ basketball team owns an eye-opening 13-2 record thus far and gained top seed in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference tournament. From left are Sophie Chong, Anna Lentini, Amanda Rodriguez, Siris Rodriguez, Samantha Chong, Jennifer Acosta and Nicole Primero, with head coach Chris Hernandez in the rear.
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IMPRESSIVE INDIANS – The Weehawken girls’ basketball team owns an eye-opening 13-2 record thus far and gained top seed in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference tournament. From left are Sophie Chong, Anna Lentini, Amanda Rodriguez, Siris Rodriguez, Samantha Chong, Jennifer Acosta and Nicole Primero, with head coach Chris Hernandez in the rear.

The girls’ basketball program at Weehawken High School certainly has not been a world beater for quite some time. In fact, the Indians were nothing more than lopsided cannon fodder for most of the old Bergen County Scholastic League and the new-fangled North Jersey Interscholastic Conference.

When former Weehawken standout athlete Chris Hernandez took over the girls’ basketball program five years ago, a lot of his friends in the basketball coaching fraternity scratched their heads in disbelief.

“A lot of people told me I was crazy,” Hernandez said. “I told them that I had to be there for a five-year test. I told the girls that they should want to be competitive and be respected. Those were my goals.”

The Indians won five games in Hernandez’s first year as head coach, then 11 games the next. They improved to 12 games in the third year and won 13 games last year, making steady improvement each year.

“Our league is tough,” Hernandez said. “That’s all I wanted to see was improvement.”

But Hernandez couldn’t have dreamed the success that his team is experiencing this season. The Indians are 13-2 overall and 11-0 in the NJIC Meadowlands Division, a full game and a half ahead of Saddle Brook, which has a 9-1 league mark.

“I did think we’d be better, but I didn’t expect this,” Hernandez said. “We’ve changed the face of Weehawken girls’ basketball.”

That’s for sure.

The Indians are also the top seed in the NJIC Tournament and received a bye in the first round of the NJIC tourney. The Indians face Hasbrouck Heights in the first round this weekend.

“I really didn’t think we would be this successful,” Hernandez said. “The girls put a lot of time and hard work into improving. It’s not easy, because everyone has to play more than one sport at Weehawken. If they didn’t play all the sports, then we wouldn’t be able to field teams. Because of their other commitments, we can’t get into summer leagues or fall leagues. But the girls stay active playing other sports. They’re competing, always doing something.”

What is also remarkable about the Indians is that they’ve won 13 games this season, matching last year’s win total already, without having a scorer who averages double figures. That’s almost unheard of.

Senior guard Anna Lentini is the team’s leading scorer, averaging just eight points per game. The 5-foot-8 Lentini has led the Indians in scoring in each of the last two seasons.

Senior guard Nicole Primero is also a key contributor. The 5-foot-7 Primero is also averaging close to eight points per game.

“She really has emerged this season and taken a more prominent role,” Hernandez said.

Then there are the Chong twins, seniors Samantha and Sophie. Known more for their incredible softball prowess, the sisters, both 5-foot-10, are solid inside players on the hardwood.

“Sam is the heart and soul of the team, the vocal leader,” Hernandez said. “She gets the team going. Sophie does a little bit of everything out there, especially guarding the other team’s top player.”

Senior Amanda Rodriguez is a 5-foot-11 senior forward.

“She’s one of the better rebounders in our league,” Hernandez said. “She makes us a lot more flexible up front. We can switch our game plan and not worry about our personnel package.”

Senior Jennifer Acosta is a 5-foot-7 point guard.

“She handles the ball very well,” Hernandez said. “She’s improved tremendously and sets the tone for our offense.”

Junior Natalia Ordonez is a 5-foot-7 tough-as-nails defender. Sophomore Jessica Ruiz is a 5-foot-6 sharpshooter and the team’s hardest worker. Nicole Molano, a 5-foot-7 sophomore and sister of former Weehawken quarterback Oliver Molano, is a solid athlete who can run and jump like her brother.

And senior guard Siris Rodriguez, who never even picked up a basketball before high school, has come a long way in making her mark with the Indians.

“These seven seniors have put in the time and want to win a championship,” Hernandez said. “They want something that will last forever.”

The remarkable improvement they have made this season is enough of a legacy…

Also in girls’ basketball, Marist remains undefeated at 15-0, one of only six teams in the entire state to be without a loss at this stage of the season. The Royal Knights enjoyed big wins over St. Anthony and Dickinson last week. Breyanna Frazier had 19 points and Emely Rosario 14 in the win over Dickinson. The players thought that the feature here two weeks ago would be a jinx, but it looks like they’ve survived…

On the boys’ basketball scene, freshman Corey Manning-Floyd hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime to give Snyder a shocking 68-67 win over Hudson Catholic in the Tigers’ Den recently. Manning-Floyd had 21 points in the game and teammate DaShawn Emmanuel had 20 points and 11 rebounds. It was the first loss for Hudson Catholic against a public school team in 80 games and Snyder’s first win over Hudson Catholic since 2010…

In that game, Hawk standout Jahvon Quinerly had 28 points, including the 1,000th of his career. Teammate Luther Muhammad had 25 in a win over Memorial and he’s closing in on his 1,000th point as well.

Quinerly and Muhammad would join Hoboken’s Justin Davis and Tyshon Hanberry as teammates scoring 1,000 points in the same year. Davis and Hanberry reached the plateau in the same game last month, just minutes apart…

Legendary St. Anthony Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hurley and the Friars’ program will be the feature of a six-part documentary series on Showtime online entitled: “Legacy: Bob Hurley,” which will air on SHO.com, on the Showtime YouTube channel and the Showtime app beginning Monday, Feb. 20. Each segment in the six-part series is 10 minutes in length and will only air online…

The local football coaching carousel took a few spins recently, as Dickinson’s Sean Fallon and Ferris’ Brent Rice have announced that they will not return in the fall, joining North Bergen former coach Mike Guasconi.

Guasconi’s replacement as head coach of the Bruins will be long-time assistant coach Ed Somick, a former Bruin player.

And former Harrison head coach Rich Glover, Jr., the son of the College Football Hall of Famer and former Dickinson and Ferris head coach, has been hired by Marist to be the new head coach of the Royal Knights. Got all that?

In wrestling, the Hudson County Duels take place this weekend. For the first time in recent years, North Bergen appears to be the favorite to unseat St. Peter’s Prep as county champs…

Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Anthony (13-3). 2. Hudson Catholic (17-3). 3. St. Peter’s Prep (11-5). 4. North Bergen (16-2). 5. Snyder (10-6)…

Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Baskeball Top Five: 1. Marist (15-0). 2. Bayonne (13-3). 3. Lincoln (12-3). 4. Secaucus (14-2). 5. Weehawken (13-2)…–Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com