Hoboken’s boys end surprising campaign; Jersey City’s Burno named head coach at Northern Illinois; final top fives

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Hoboken senior point guard Jason Blanks
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Hoboken junior forward Tyshawn Lane
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Hoboken senior point guard Jason Blanks
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Hoboken junior forward Tyshawn Lane

It wasn’t an easy high school basketball season for any local team, both boys’ and girls’ squads, so the boys’ team from Hoboken High School shouldn’t feel left out from dealing with the trials and tribulations caused by a global pandemic.

But incredibly, veteran head coach Shawn Kolmer was able to lead the Redwings to a 6-3 record that no one saw coming.

“It started off with North Bergen having a case of COVID, so we got shut down,” Kolmer said. “Then St. Peter’s Prep had it and we got shut down again for two weeks because we were in close contact with them. We were only able to get three of the games we lost rescheduled. And with no county or state tournament to play for, it made things difficult.”

But Kolmer said his team never lost their drive and determination.

“The kids were great,” Kolmer said. “Every day, I said that every day is a blessing. It all could have ended at any point.”

For Kolmer’s young team to come away with a 6-3 mark is more than remarkable.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Kolmer said. “I was especially surprised with how fast they came together as a team.”

Kolmer gives a lot of the credit to 5-foot-10 senior point guard Jason Blanks, who took over leadership of the squad.

“Jason Blanks is a talented point guard,” Kolmer said. “I watched him grow up from a little boy. I watched him become a man this year. He led with his heart. It wasn’t even his talent level. He was all heart. He got like six rebounds per game on pure effort.”

Blanks averaged 14.7 points per game, leading the way.

“If that kid wants to be a part of my coaching staff tomorrow, he has a job,” Kolmer said of Blanks. “I think he could do that in either sport [football or basketball].”

Junior Tyshawn Lane, a 6-foot-1 small forward, also emerged as a go-to scorer. Lane averaged nine points per game.

“He does everything,” Kolmer said of Tyshawn Lane. “He’s our most steady player. He’s our most improved player. He’s a totally different player than what he was last year. I think I asked a little too much of him.”

Jasir Lane, a 6-foot-4 sophomore forward and younger brother of Tyshawn, also made his presence felt.

“He’s raw,” Kolmer said of the younger Lane. “He’s all potential. He’s very skilled. He gets a ton of rebounds. I have encouraged him to get into the weight room, because he has to get stronger. But he can shoot a little. He just needs a little strength.”

Juan Garabito is a 6-foot-2 junior forward.

“He’s our best shooter,” Kolmer said. “We need him to develop an inside game. Every now and then, he has to go down to the post and make a play. We’re going to give him those opportunities.”

Joel Lopez is a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard.

“He’s next in line to handle the ball,” Kolmer said. “He has to improve his jump shot, but he can do that with repetition.”

Tyler Sims is a 6-foot senior offensive sparkplug who averaged 12 points per game and football star Jason Jeannot is 6-foot senior defensive wizard. Both players will be missed.

Sean Smith is a 6-foot-2 forward who is also a good rebounder and scorer.

If there is one thing that jumps off the page, it’s the Redwings’ depth along the front line. Even their guards are blessed with height.

“We do have a lot of size,” Kolmer said. “We still play mostly on the perimeter and we have guys who can all handle the ball. They can dribble and shoot.”

Kolmer was certain that if there was a full season, the Redwings could have challenged for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state title.

“I think we could have been the No. 1 or No. 2 seed,” Kolmer said. “We beat practically every team in the county. I know we can compete with anyone. We just have to get over the hump and beat one of the big teams. But we’re right there.”

And the Redwings were right there with the county’s biggest surprise.

“It was so enjoyable to be there every day,” Kolmer said. “I was glad to be there on the court with the kids. It really rejuvenated me. I know they were disappointed when they couldn’t play.”…

Former St. Anthony standout point guard Rashon Burno, who played at DePaul and spent the last six years as Bobby Hurley’s top assistant coach at Arizona State, was named as the new head coach at Northern Illinois University, an NCAA Division I program based in DeKalb, Illinois.

Burno, whose brother Frank is the former head coach at Marist and spent the last two years as an assistant at Hudson Catholic, was the Most Valuable Player of the 1996 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, when he collected a state record 10 steals in the Friars’ win over Shawnee, capping an undefeated season.

From a personal standpoint, Burno was the star point guard for several of my Jersey City Recreation Biddy and Jersey City PAL teams in the early 1990s. We were an inseparable combination for three full years (ages 10 through 12) and I cherished every moment.

So there was a special feeling of pride when news of Burno’s appointment as the new head coach at NIU was announced. We hope to have more with Coach Burno in the coming weeks. Way to go, Rashon. Words can’t even begin to describe the amount of pride…

Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Union City (5-0). 2. St. Peter’s Prep (10-1). 3. Hudson Catholic (8-4). 4. Lincoln (8-4). 5. Hoboken (6-3)…

Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (11-4) 2. Secaucus (11-0). 3. Union City (9-2). 4. Lincoln (10-4). 5. Snyder (7-6). – Jim Hague

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