Secaucus boys keep pace with the girls; Hoop musings; District 7 info; top fives

Senior Jamling Lama is leading the Secaucus boys’ basketball to a 4-0 record thus far this season
Senior Jamling Lama is leading the Secaucus boys’ basketball to a 4-0 record thus far this season

The Secaucus High School boys’ basketball team has done a very good job of keeping up with the more renowned girls’ basketball team.

Both teams are currently undefeated. While the girls own an impressive 7-0 record – one of the wins being the 600th victory of veteran head coach John Sterling’s career at both Bogota and for the last 16 years at Secaucus – coach Tom Curry’s team has managed to dodge the coronavirus shutdowns to post a 4-0 record at press time.

“It really hasn’t been that difficult,” Curry said when asked about the two-week quarantine that kept the Patriots on the sidelines. “In today’s day and age, it is what it is. I was through something like this with the football team at Park Ridge [where Curry is an assistant coach]. You can either get frustrated or continue to do the right things.”

So Curry sent a message to his players.

“If it means not hanging out with your friends or not going to the family party, then you have to do it,” Curry said. “Of course, kids will be kids, but I think you can count on them to do the right thing and stay away for the good of their team. It’s unfortunate to the seniors who have missed time and games due to it.”

Curry said that Secaucus has recently lessened the restraints set by the state regarding social distancing at home games.

“Every kid gets two wrist bands that they can give to their parents or family members to attend games,” Curry said. “Of course, they have to wear masks and keep distance. It’s like going to the grocery store. As long as our players haven’t interacted with someone who has had the virus. We’re just hoping to get through it. It hasn’t been easy.”

Especially for someone like senior Patrick Pantoliano, who suffered a broken ankle last year that forced him to miss all of the basketball season, then when he recovered from the injury, Pantoliano had his baseball season eliminated because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What do you do for someone like him?” asked Curry. “You’re looking at a kid who could have been a 1,000-point scorer. He missed out on his entire junior year. But he’s like a calming influence to the team. He fills out the stat sheet for us.”

Pantoliano has seen action in all four Patriot games thus far this season but has determined that he will be best suited as a baseball player in college. Pantoliano will play baseball at William Paterson University in the fall.

Another kid in a similar boat is fellow senior Jamling Lama, who has also saw a good portion of his career get curtained due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Lama had an outside shot of becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer, but will now have to settle for just falling a little shy of the mark.

“He could have scored 1,500 points or so,” Curry said of Lama, who had 19 points in a win over Weehawken and 11 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals in a huge win over Lyndhurst. “He’s been one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. I’ll always have a special place for Jamling Lama.”

Lama has expressed interest in playing college basketball, but has not yet committed to a school. Lama was a Second Team All-Hudson County selection in basketball last season.

“He loves playing basketball,” Curry said of Lama, who also plays basebll. “He just loves to compete. I never get tired of watching how he plays the game. He always has a smile on his face. He is a credit to his family. His parents are great people.”

Another senior contributor is Mark Denhert, who is a very good baseball player. In typical Secaucus fashion, the school has plenty of two-and-three sport standouts.

“Mark is one of those glue guys who offers intangibles,” Curry said. “He’s a good teammate.”

Soccer standout Daniel Youn has emerged as the Patriots resident long-range threat.

“He’s very fast and explosive,” Curry said. “He’s getting to the rim regularly. He’s our most consistent 3-point shooter.”

Junior Kevin Kokomani is the team’s major inside threat. The 6-foot-3 Kokomani is the team’s second leading scorer behind Lama, averaging 11 points per game to Lama’s 18 ppg average.

“Kevin is a hard worker who loves the game,” Curry said.

Junior center Dion Drenica is a 6-foot-4 center. With Drenica, Kokomani and the 6-foot-3 Pantoliano, the Patriots may just have the tallest frontline in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference.

“We really do have some nice size,” Curry said.

Not to mention talent. A 4-0 record only emphasizes that…

While some teams are having a tough time getting games in, it’s not the case with the Weehawken boys’ team, which owns a 6-4 record at press time. Some teams have two games under their belts, but veteran coach Jake McNish and his Indians have played 10. We’ll have more on the Indians next week…

Congrats to Hudson Catholic senior guard Zanai Jones, who recently became the leading scorer in the history of the school. The Villanova-bound Jones tallied her 1,194th point, surpassing current Felician University guard Haylee Ramirez. Jones has tallied in double figures in all eight of the Hawks’ games this season, including a season-best 25 recently against Snyder…

It’s only a small segment of the schedule, but congrats to Dickinson head coach Todd Lynch on leading his team to a 2-0 record thus far. It’s been a while since the Rams started off a season with two wins…

And the Snyder girls have a 5-2 record with former St. Dominic and Marist coach Reggie Quinn now coaching the Tigers. Jah’Nel Lewis has been playing well for the Tigers. We’ll have more next week about the Tigers…

We received an e-mail from District 7 Little League Director Carmine Conti who informed us that there will indeed be Little League play this spring, culminating in the District 7 All-Star Tournament this summer.

Little League play and the subsequent All-Star tournaments were canceled last year due to COVID, but Conti has made a promise that the age-appropriate softball and baseball tournaments will take place, including the highly anticipated 11-and-12-year-old All-Star tournament.

Registrations are currently open for Little League baseball and softball for ages 5-16 throughout Hudson County, so please visit bluesombrero.com/newjerseyD7LL for further details or email NJD7info@gmail.com

Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (8-0). 2. Union City (3-0). 3. Hudson Catholic (2-1). 4. Lincoln (5-1). 5. Dickinson (4-1)…

Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (6-2) 2. Secaucus (7-0). 3. Union City (3-1). 4. Lincoln (6-2). 5. Snyder (5-2) – Jim Hague

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