The high school basketball season has come to an end and with that, here are our year-end awards.
Once again, the Hudson Reporter All-Area Boys’ and Girls’ High School Basketball Teams are packed with talented players. The process to select the top 15 players in the area is not an easy one, with so many excellent players to choose from. To narrow it down to the top three teams was almost painstakingly difficult this season, perhaps more than any other campaign in the 28-year history of the Reporter’s year-end hoop squads.
Let’s start with the Girls’ All-Area squad. It features nine players who make return appearances on the All-Area team. Two of whom, namely Amanda Ulrich of Secaucus and Daniya Darby of Lincoln, earned All-Area First Team honors for an astounding third straight season. Ulrich, Secaucus’ all-time leading scorer, earned postseason honors for a fourth straight year, having been a Second Team selection in 2016.
Another, Breyanna Frazier of Marist, was selected to the All-Area team for a fourth straight year. Frazier was gunning to be First Team for all four years of high school, but a knee injury limited Frazier to only 10 games played this season, so she was selected to the Reporter’s Third Team this year. Frazier heads off to the University of Central Florida in the fall having earned All-Area all four years of high school, a truly remarkable feat.
Hudson Catholic’s brilliant point guard Zanai Jones, who helped to lead the Hawks to their first-ever county championship, made a jump up from Third Team last year to First Team this season. Ulrich, Darby and Jones are joined on the First Team by Bayonne’s dynamic duo of Makoye Diawara and Eniya Scott.
Secaucus’ Damaris Rodriguez and Lincoln’s Alaisha Mumford both repeated as Second Team honorees. Rodriguez earned Second Team honors for a third straight year.
Hudson Catholic’s Haylee Ramirez earned postseason honors again by earning a spot on the Second Team. She was Second Team in 2017, First Team last year and now Second Team this year. Hoboken’s Zoe Mattessich and Weehawken’s Nicole Molano both repeated as Third Team selections.
The Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Coach of the Year is Pete Vincent of Hudson Catholic, who led the Hawks to the school’s first-ever girls’ basketball Hudson County Tournament championship. Vincent has really cemented his place as one of the top coaches in the state and his team should be the team to beat next season, with many of his players from this year’s team returning again in 2019-2020.
And for the third straight year, the Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Player of the Year is Amanda Ulrich of Secaucus, who had yet another amazing season, averaging 22.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, four steals and four assists per game for the Patriots, who posted a 24-4 record and went to the finals of the NJIC Tournament, the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II tournament and went to the semifinals of the Hudson County Tournament.
Ulrich shattered the Secaucus all-time scoring record for both boys and girls by tallying an astonishing 2,224 points, becoming only the seventh girl in Hudson County history to reach the 2,000-point plateau. Ulrich finished her career as the No. 4 all-time leading scorer in county history and a three-time Reporter Player of the Year. She heads off to St. Leo University in Tampa with an incredible resume and legacy.
While the Girls’ All-Area Team featured a host of returning honorees, the Hudson Reporter All-Area Boys’ High School Basketball Team does not have a lot of returning players.
In fact, the First Team is entirely new. That in itself is a rarity. It marks the first time in 13 seasons that the entire First Team is comprised of players who did not previously earn the top team spot.
Two of the First Team honorees, namely Corey Manning-Floyd of Snyder and Donte Darby of Lincoln, made the step up from Second Team last year to the First Team this season.
They are joined on the First Team by Gabe Johnson of Union City, Mark Armstrong of St. Peter’s Prep and Shane Dezonie of Hudson Catholic. All three of those young men led their respective teams in scoring. Armstrong, only a freshman, was the highest scoring freshman in Hudson County history, averaging 16 points per game. Dezonie is only a sophomore. They both have outstanding futures and already are considering NCAA Division I prospects.
The only other repeat honoree on the All-Area team is Abdallah El Saleh of North Bergen, who is a Second Team honoree this year after earning First Team last year.
The Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Coach of the Year is Drew Morano of Union City, who led the Soaring Eagles to a historic year, winning both the Hudson County Tournament championship and the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state title, becoming the first Hudson County public school to win county and state honors in the same year in 24 years.
Morano also earned the Reporter’s Coach of the Year honor in the 2014-15 campaign.
The Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Player of the Year is Gabe Johnson of Union City, who was the catalyst for the county and state champion Soaring Eagles, averaging 17 points and more than four assists per game. Johnson was also the inspirational leader for the team, both on and off the court. It was a tremendous season for the Soaring Eagles and for Johnson, who should get a college scholarship somewhere for his tremendous accomplishments.
So there you have it, another basketball season in the books. It was a historic season for sure, capped with these postseason honors. – Jim Hague
2018-19 Hudson Reporter Girls’ H.S. Basketball All-Area Team
Amanda Ulrich, Secaucus
Daniya Darby, Lincoln
Zanai Jones, Hudson Catholic
Makoye Diawara, Bayonne
Eniya Scott, Bayonne
Alaisha Mumford, Lincoln
Damaris Rodriguez, Secaucus
Jesse Semeniak, Bayonne
Aiyana Peoples, Hoboken
Haylee Ramirez, Hudson Catholic
Breyanna Frazier, Marist
Zoe Mattessich, Hoboken
Nicole Molano, Weehawken
Stephanie Jean-Baptiste, Marist
Najah Abrams, Snyder
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Amanda Ulrich, Secaucus
COACH OF THE YEAR: Pete Vincent, Hudson Catholic
2018-19 Hudson Reporter Boys’ H.S. Basketball All-Area Team
Gabe Johnson, Union City
Corey Manning-Floyd, Snyder
Shane Dezonie, Hudson Catholic
Donte Darby, Lincoln
Mark Armstrong, St. Peter’s Prep
Mike Jackson, Marist
Adam Habouche, McNair Academic
Abdallah El Saleh, North Bergen
Jacqual Gertrude, Dickinson
Danny Rodriguez, Hudson Catholic
Aaron Kashian, Secaucus
Angelo Santiago, Marist
Josue LaBeet, Union City
Jadon Cepeda, Memorial
Ismael Camara, McNair Academic
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gabe Johnson, Union City
COACH OF THE YEAR: Drew Morano, Union City
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com