Marauders loom as pre-season league favorite
Once again, the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association boys’ basketball race appears to be highly competitive, with as many as five teams actually making a solid push to be the pre-season pick to win it all come late February.
One of those teams has to be the Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep, who welcomes back practically their entire team from a year ago, a 19-5 team that went to the NJSIAA Parochial A North title game last season.
Head coach Joe Macchi, who enters his third season at the Prep, is glad to have his three senior leaders back, namely forward Jarett Love, center Brian Robinson and shooting guard Jimmy Supple.
"It’s definitely a luxury to have a veteran group of kids like I do," Macchi said. "There are a lot of talented teams in Hudson County and anything is possible. But it helps to have kids who have been through it before. They probably got a little taste of what the next talent level is like. The question is, did they work hard enough to get to that level? Are we good enough to get back to that? Honestly, I don’t know.
Added Macchi, "We’ve been too inconsistent at times. I think I’ll have a better indication after we put on the uniforms and really play."
The 6-3 Love probably holds the key to the Marauders’ success. Multi-talented, Love averaged 15 points per game last year, but may have to do more of the little things to impress his coach.
"I’d like to see Jarett’s production go up in other areas, not just scoring," Macchi said. "I need him to play the other team’s top player on defense and improve in all aspects of the game. I think he should have a good year."
Robinson, at 6-7, is one of the HCIAA’s most imposing figures. He averaged 14 points per game last year.
"I think he’s a Division I player," Macchi said of his center, who should draw his share of scholarship offers. "If there is one thing that sets him apart is his ability to pass the ball. Sometimes, he’s too unselfish and passes too much. But he has good court sense."
Supple, a 6-2 sharpshooter, averaged 11 points per game a year ago.
"He’s the best pure shooter we have and he’s real knowledgeable of the game," Macchi said. "I don’t have to tell him much. He’s a bright kid, who got 1360 on his SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Tests) and still wants take them again to get a better score. He doesn’t make many mistakes on the floor."
Senior point guard John Cossolini also returns. The 5-9 Cossolini averaged six points and six assists per game last season. He is also a kid who is dear to Macchi’s heart, because Cossolini can draw comparisons to the way Macchi played first at Marist, then Jersey City State.
"He’s really a kid who does a lot of things that doesn’t show up in the box score," Macchi said. "He’s the glue of the team, who makes sure that we get into the flow of the game."
Senior forward Emmanuel Thompson, a 6-2 strong performer with good leaping ability, came off the bench last season, but becomes a starter this year.
Senior Dan Healy, a 6-6 center/forward, will spell Robinson down low, but could see a lot of action on the floor with Robinson.
"I have to find the minutes for Healy," Macchi said. "He’s a great kid who plays hard all the time."
Macchi also welcomes two members of the Prep soccer team to the basketball fold, namely 6-2 senior Scott Cunningham and 5-11 junior James Della Vecchia.
"Soccer players make for good basketball players, because they constantly run up and down," Macchi said. "They’re tireless."
St. Peter’s opens this weekend in the Jersey City Tipoff Tournament, along with Hudson Catholic, St. Mary’s of Jersey City and Don Bosco Tech of Paterson. The Marauders will also head to Florida during the Christmas holidays for a tournament there.
"I’ve said to the team that they have a chance to be good, but that’s only on paper," Macchi said. "Nothing comes easy in this county. There are some very good teams, like Marist, Emerson and North Bergen, but we should be right in the hunt."
Agreed. Count on the Marauders to make their share of noise come HCIAA playoff time in February.