The 2019-2020 boys’ high school basketball season didn’t start out too well for the Tigers of Snyder High School.
The Tigers lost three of their first five games, including the season-opening setback to neighboring rival Marist.
It was not the way veteran head coach Shelton Gibbs had imagined his team playing to begin the new season.
“We did have a bunch of kids sick,” said Gibbs, the long-time Snyder head coach and former standout at St. Peter’s College in the 1980s. “We had a couple of kids with the flu bug. It was just about us getting healthy again. I also thought we could play a little better.”
The Tigers were also overcoming some serious injuries to key personnel. Seniors Shykeith Gibson (broken leg) and Kareem Perry (broken hand) had to rehabilitate injuries. Fellow senior Jawaad Davis had to restore his academic eligibility before he could return.
It’s hard to compete in the rough-and-tumble world of the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League without a full roster.
Gibbs had to be patient.
“It was basically the same team that we had last year,” Gibbs said of the Tigers, who finished the 2018-2019 season with a 17-7 record. “They just had to understand things better.”
Well, Gibson, Perry and Davis have all returned to the Tigers’ rotation. And sure enough, things have dramatically improved. The Tigers have won four in a row and seven of their last eight to improve to 10-4 overall and 5-2 in the HCIAL White Division, trailing only front-running Marist in the league race.
One of the players that Gibbs didn’t have to worry about at all is senior forward Corey Manning-Floyd.
The 6-foot-5 Manning-Floyd earned Hudson Reporter All-Area First Team honors a year ago, one year after being selected to the Reporter All-Area Second Team as a sophomore. He averaged 20.3 points and 9.3 rebounds last season as one of the area’s top five players.
“He’s become more of a leader this year,” Gibbs said of Manning-Floyd. “He’s become more disciplined. His basketball IQ is better. One of his goals was to rebound more this year and he’s doing that. He can actually play all five positions for us. He’s that versatile. He’s ready to take his game to the next level.”
Manning-Floyd should be able to put his name on the dotted line of a scholarship letter after the season is over. He has collected nine double-doubles (points and rebounds) this season, including one in each of the last four straight victories.
Manning-Floyd had 17 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Lincoln, 12 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Clifton, 19 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Charleston of Massachusetts in the Dan Finn Classic at the Jersey City Armory last Saturday and 15 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Ferris last Monday.
Although Manning-Floyd is averaging “only” 16 points per game this season compared to last, Gibbs said that there is a good reason for the decline.
“He had guys around him that can score,” Gibbs said. “It’s taken a lot of the pressure off him. It helps the team tremendously.”
Another key member of the Tigers’ lineup is Manning-Floyd’s first cousin Shy’heed Jenkins-Floyd, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard.
“Shy’heed is crafty,” Gibbs said of Jenkins-Floyd, who is averaging 14.2 points per game, up from the 8.2 point-per-game mark he averaged last year as a freshman. “This is his breakout year. This is what I expected of him. He plays hard every game. He’s able to penetrate and dish.”
Jenkins-Floyd is also averaging 4.3 assists and 4.2 steals per game in becoming a big-time high school basketball player.
Dajer Muldrow is a junior 6-foot-6 power forward. He collected six dunks enroute to 20 points in a huge win over Ferris last week. Muldrow is averaging 11 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.
“I think his better days are yet to come,” Gibbs said. “I think his ball handling has to get better and he’s working on that. His inside moves and jump shot needs some work, but he’s getting there.”
Perry is a 6-foot-2 senior guard who also works well on the inside because of his strength.
“He gets all the hustle points you need,” Gibbs said of Perry. “He can rebound and score inside.”
Gibson is a 6-foot guard who specializes on defense.
“He can play tough and play physical,” Gibbs said. “He can get to the basket well.”
The addition of Davis has been critical. The 6-foot senior has only played two games since returning, averaging eight points in those games, but Gibbs is certain that Davis will make a mark before the season is over.
“He can go to the basket,” Gibbs said. “He’s a scorer who can also shoot the three [3-pointer]. He gives us another athletic scorer. He just makes the team better.”
Senior Jeremiah Chambers is a 6-foot-2 forward.
“He gives Dajer help down low,” Gibbs said. “He rebounds well and plays tough defense.”
The Tigers had a tough rematch with Marist scheduled for Thursday. County games against Hoboken and University Charter await this week.
“I think it all depends on each game,” Gibbs said. “We have to play a little smarter.”
It’s hard to argue with the results.
“Things are going pretty well,” said the low-keyed Gibbs. “As long as they believe in themselves, we should be fine.”
Of course, there are the upcoming Hudson County Tournament games and the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II playoffs to contend with.
“Anything can happen in the states,” Gibbs said. “I think we’ll be a scary team to play then.”
It’s safe to say that Snyder is pretty frightening right now and definitely a team to watch down the stretch.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com and listen to Jim’s Hudson County Sports podcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.