North Bergen girls count on senior leadership

O’Donnell named softball coach at Hudson Catholic; Sabbers medals at Dartmouth

When the 2010-11 high school basketball season began, veteran North Bergen girls’ coach Dan Reardon knew that he had a veteran lineup to count on, with four seniors who have played a lot of games and minutes over their careers.
“I start three of them and bring Ashley Heredia off the bench,” Reardon said. “It’s just a little experiment we’re trying, to give us more production.”
Reardon got the Bruins ready for the season by putting them in two summer leagues, as well as a team camp at Albright University in Reading, Pa.
“The team camp has teams from all over and we get like 15 games in a week,” Reardon said. “We also played 38 games this summer to get them ready.”
The preparation has definitely worked, as the Bruins are off to a fine start, winning eight of their first 10 games, including a solid 56-44 win over Lincoln last Tuesday night.
Leading the way for the Bruins is senior guard Ashley Vazzona. The 5-foot-5 Vazzona has been a mainstay in the Bruin lineup since she was a freshman. She’s currently averaging 14 points per game and she became the seventh girl in North Bergen history to reach the prestigious 1,000-point plateau for her career in the win over Lincoln.
“She’s stepped it up a little this year, because she’s a senior,” Reardon said.
Senior Jazmin Palma is the team’s point guard. The 5-foot-3 Palma is a solid floor leader.
“She knows when to shoot and when to distribute,” Reardon said.
The aforementioned Heredia is a 5-foot-6 speed demon who runs the floor like a jet.
“She can do a little bit of everything for us,” Reardon said.
The fourth senior is 5-foot-5 Alyssa Arroyo, who scored 15 points in the win over Lincoln.
“Alyssa has also become our defensive stopper,” Reardon said.
There aren’t many teams in Hudson County that can provide that much senior leadership.
“It’s definitely an advantage for us,” Reardon said. “They have played a lot of games together and they know what to do.”
Junior Nicole Paulino is a 5-foot-10 post presence for the Bruins.
“She’s a work in progress,” Reardon said. “She has some athleticism and we’re getting her to play with her back to the basket. She has a big upside.”
Junior Raymelliz Carillo is a back-up at both guard positions. Sophomore Amanda Rivera is another solid guard off the bench and sophomore Doris Ilic is a 5-foot-9 forward who plays well inside, but can also pop out and take the outside shot.
Needless to say, this looks like a team that can compete for the Hudson County Tournament title come the end of next month.
“I think they believe what I’m telling them,” Reardon said. “I think there are five teams in the county that can be the No. 1 seed in the tourney and we’re one of them. There’s a lot of parity in the league. Guard play is our forte and we have four or five interchangeable parts in the backcourt. We have the ability to run and press and we’re using that to our advantage.”
Looks like the Bruins are for real and a team to watch…

Hudson Reporter Boys’ H.S. Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Anthony (8-0). 2. Hudson Catholic (8-2). 3. St. Peter’s Prep (5-2). 4. Marist (6-1). 5. Memorial (6-2).
Hudson Reporter Girls’ H.S. Basketball Top Five: 1. Bayonne (7-1). 2. North Bergen (8-2). 3. Lincoln (6-3). 4. St. Dominic Academy (5-3). 5. Secaucus (5-2)….
Some other musings about the local basketball scene: Memorial’s boys’ team is on a roll, winning four straight, thanks to the play of David Almonte, who had 20 points in a win over Hoboken, 23 in a win over Dickinson and 18 in a win over Indian Hills.
And sharpshooting big man Reggie Cameron has been a solid addition for Hudson Catholic. The 6-foot-7 transfer from the defunct Paterson Catholic had games of 24, 23 and 16 in the past week…
Speaking of Hudson Catholic, the school’s administration made a great choice in hiring former County Prep head softball coach Tim O’Donnell to head the Hawks’ still fledgling program. O’Donnell, a former Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year honoree, has been a strong developer of pitchers in the past, which is what a new program needs. It’s a great hire by the school, the best since procuring Nick Mariniello as the boys’ basketball coach…
Congrats to St. Dominic Academy’s Cecelia Sabbers for winning a medal at the prestigious Dartmouth Relays indoor track event last week.
Sabbers finished fifth in the open 800-meter run in a highly competitive field. She becomes only the fourth individual in SDA history to earn a medal at the meet, joining some of the finest SDA products of all-time like Liane Sullivan, former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year Cheri Selby, and former shot put queen Daria Zivanovic
The New Jersey City University Athletic Hall of Fame induction dinner will take place Jan.28 at the school and will include such worthy people as Hoboken’s Tara Mitchell, who was a women’s basketball standout at the school.
One of the other inductees is Charlie Brown, the legendary basketball coach. Wait a minute. Charlie wasn’t in already? He’s only the school’s most recognizable coach ever, one of the most successful basketball minds in New Jersey history and the gym floor is named after him. But he just gets in now?
Congrats to Charlie and the other inductees, but Charlie should have been an instant Hall of Famer the second he decided to retire.
Contact the school’s Office of Alumni Relations at (201) 200-3196 for tickets or e-mail them at alumni@njcu.edu…
Also, Jersey City native Ed Lucas will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award at the annual New Jersey Sportswriters’ Association luncheon at the Pines Manor in Edison. The dinner will take place Sunday, Jan. 30th. Another honoree that day will be former Hudson Catholic football coach and former New York Giant great Leonard Marshall. It’s usually a great afternoon with sports celebrities galore and it’s open to the general public…–Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group