TASTY TIDBITS 01/25/09The absurdity of a better local team than the Friars Espinal rolls perfection; McNair Academic opts out of new league for hoops

There was a recent column written in the local daily that stated that St. Peter’s Prep had actually dethroned St. Anthony as the best local boys’ basketball team.
Not taking anything away from the Marauders’ fine win over Seton Hall Prep at the Dan Finn Classic last Saturday afternoon, but the Marauders cannot and will not lay claim to the local pedestal until they get a chance to beat the Friars head-to-head.
I mean, this is St. Anthony we’re talking about, the program that was just No. 1 in the nation last season, the one with too many NJSIAA state championships to count and the defending NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner.
Sure, the Friars have lost two games this season, but both losses were with an incomplete roster.
The Marauders own an impressive 10-1 record thus far and are the clear-cut favorites to repeat as HCIAA Coviello champions.
But better than the Friars? Are you kidding me?
I think even Prep head coach Mike Kelly cringed a little when he read those words. There’s no question that the Marauders have elevated themselves to the place where they can be considered with the elite teams in New Jersey. The additions of Ronald Roberts and Myles Davis to the talented sophomore trio of Keith Lumpkin, Kevin Walker and Chase Fluellen have put the Marauders among the top 10 teams in the state.
But until they claim a win over the Friars, it’s absolutely absurd to think that the Marauders are better and should be declared as the top team in the county.
It made me recall the last time someone placed the Friars in a lower position than No. 1 in Hudson County.
It was 1987 and that someone was doing the weekly Top 10 story for the now-defunct Hudson Dispatch.
On the Friday prior to the Top 10 coming out, Ferris had defeated St. Anthony in a regular season game at Ferris.
As it turned out, it’s the last time St. Anthony lost a regular season game to a Hudson County opponent. The only other loss the Friars suffered to a Hudson County team was in the 1992 NJSIAA Parochial B North finals to Marist at St. Peter’s College.
However, when the article came out on Tuesday and that writer had Ferris No. 1 and St. Anthony No. 2 in the local Top 10, the Dispatch was flooded with calls, wanting the writer’s head. Thank God, I still have my head.
Later that season, St. Anthony gained revenge against Ferris, soundly defeating the Bulldogs at Dickinson High School in the regular season and then again in the HCIAA playoffs.
That’s the last time anyone ever put St. Anthony in the corner.
It won’t happen here.
It also caused one to reflect that exactly 20 years ago last week, in the middle of their undefeated national championship run, the Friars played North Bergen in an independent game (by then, the Friars had left the HCIAA).
Well, the Bruins played the Friars very tough and actually kept the final outcome within single digits, the only time all season that the Friars did not win by more than 10 points.
After the game, the late Randy Chave, who was the Bruins’ head coach at the time, told reporters that he “didn’t think St. Anthony was that good and that a Hudson County team could beat them.”
The next day, yours truly wrote a column saying that there were only two teams in Hudson County that could actually give the Friars a game – and those teams were St. Peter’s College and then-Jersey City State.
Because the 1989 Friars were – and still remain – the best high school basketball team this area has ever seen…
Congrats to Union City bowler Omar Espinal, who rolled a perfect game of 300 at the Brick Memorial tournament last Saturday, Jan. 17. It was the high game of the tournament. Two weeks in a row, there has been a mention of Union City bowling. It’s always good to give bowling its proper due…
When the NJSIAA realignment stuff is finally settled, McNair Academic will ask for independence for its boys’ basketball program. The Cougars would like to schedule an independent slate rather than play the teams they have been playing in the HCIAA Seglio Division. The powers-that-be feel that they’re just not competitive any longer playing the Hudson County teams…
The Snyder boys’ track team fared well recently at the NJSIAA Group I relays at the Bennett Center in Toms River, winning the 1,600-meter relay gold medal in 3:34.40, while placing second in the 800-meter relay in 1:34.72.
The gold medal winning relay team consisted of freshman Zamir Thomas, junior Jamonte Cooley and seniors Ivan Smalls and Daryl Keese.
The silver medal relay team consisted of Thomas, Cooley, Keese and junior Mauricio Mitchell. It’s good to see Snyder’s name listed once again among the elite when it comes to state track meets… – Jim Hague

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