Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Programming Note: Elizabeth is Now in South Jersey
During Bob Hurley’s first year as head coach of Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony in 1973, the Friars beat St. Patrick in the North Jersey Parochial C championship game and the right to go to the state final.
Across the next four decades, St. Anthony and St. Patrick fashioned one of the most intense high school basketball rivalries in the nation, accounting for a combined 16 New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles.
Part of the peculiarity of the rivalry was that the two powerhouses, located just 14 miles apart in North Jersey, usually had to play one another to advance out of the North B bracket and into the State final. Hurley and former St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle developed their own personal and heated rivalry along the way.
Why just last year, the two teams were undefeated and ranked 1-2 in the nation when St. Anthony stunned St. Patrick in the North Non-Public B final before a capacity crowd at Rutgers.
But now things have been irrevocably changed.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association decided that Elizabeth, which is less than 20 miles from my apartment in the East Village of New York and is located off Exit 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike, is in South Jersey.
Marist High School, in nearby Bayonne, is also now in South Jersey, according to the NJSIAA’s recent realignment.
If St. Anthony and St. Patrick meet in 2012, it will be in the Non-Public B final, not the North B final.
“Catholic schools are closing like crazy but we still have a lot more population up North than we do down South,” Hurley said. “The population from New Jersey North of Rutgers versus the Jersey Shore South, it’s a huge difference.”
The North bracket has now lost both St. Patrick and Paterson Catholic within the past two years after PC closed in 2010, forcing stars Myles Mack and Kyle Anderson to enroll at St. Anthony.
St. Mary’s of Jersey City also closed last year, leading to Hurley hiring its longtime coach, Tommy Lalicata, as an assistant.
“Ben [Gamble] and I will really take advantage of his experience,” Hurley said, referring to his longtime assistant. “It will be fun because he will get a chance to to coach some better players, a Kyle Anderson or a Josh Brown.”
Rising power Hudson Catholic figures to be St. Anthony’s chief rival in the North.
Under head coach Nick Mariniello, the program features more than half a dozen future Division 1 players, including Reggie Cameron, Kavon Stewart and Mike Young.
“It seems like right now Hudson’s going to be very, very strong and it will be him and Bob fighting it out in the North,” first-year St. Patrick coach Chris Chavannes said. “It seems that way.”
St. Patrick, meanwhile, must now navigate a tougher bracket that features rising power Gill St. Bernard’s, Trenton Catholic, Cardinal McCarrick and Roselle Catholic (with transfer Tyler Roberson).
That, in turn, puts a premium on regular-season record and seeding for the postseason.
“I think the realignment for us will make every regular season game more meaningful because of the strength of the South bracket,” Chavannes said.
“As for the St. Anthony rivalry, it simply makes the game a bit more meaningful should we both meet in the finals.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.