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.
Hudson Catholic Ends St. Anthony’s Season in Potential Last Game Ever for the Storied Program
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — This may have been the end of the line for the storied St. Anthony’s basketball program.
In what potentially could have been the school’s last boys basketball game ever — and the final game coached by the Naismith Hall of Famer Bob Hurley — Hudson Catholic downed the Friars, 64-61, to win the New Jersey North Non-Public B title at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
St. Anthony’s faces a financial crisis and needs approximately $500,000 to avoid closing its doors after this school year. SHOWTIME Sports is documenting St. Anthony’s season and its cameras covered the game.
Hudson Catholic’s “Big Three” of high-major Division 1 recruits was simply too much — even for Hurley’s legendary defense — as they combined for 60 points.
Junior point guard Jahvon Quinerly scored a game-high 25 before fouling out and junior small forward Louis King scored 20 points for the Hawks, whose coach, Nick Mariniello, had never before beaten St. Anthony’s. Junior guard Luther Muhammad added 15 points.
“This is just a great feeling right now, I can’t even explain it,” Quinerly said. “But our season’s not over. We got I think St. Pat’s next so we looking onto that but we’re excited right now. It’s our first time beating them. This is my first time beating them. Ever. It’s a great feeling.”
Hudson Catholic — and not St. Anthony’s — will meet The Patrick School in the Non-Public B final on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Ritacco Center in Toms River, N.J.
It’s a rematch of a game played Dec. 18 at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., in which The Patrick School prevailed, 65-63.
Kentucky-bound Nick Richards scored a career-high 28 points and 16 points to lead The Patrick School to a 71-62 victory over Roselle Catholic in the South B final at Jackson Liberty earlier Wednesday.
Ithiel Horton led St. Anthony’s with 17 points and Howard-bound guard R.J. Cole added 16 for St. Anthony’s.
Hurley did not want to speculate on the school’s future after the loss.
“The last thing in the world, you’d be sitting in a press conference after losing the North Jersey final, and be thinking about like something outside of what just happened to us,” Hurley said. “The expression my father used to use all the time, there’s a time and a place for everything. And discussing that right now is just not appropriate. We’re dealing with what just happened on the basketball court. There’s enough emotion for us going through that because we gave ourselves a chance to go to Saturday. We had the opportunity to go to Saturday and didn’t play well enough. And that’s hard.”
Mariniello estimated his school hadn’t beaten St. Anthony’s since the 1976-77 season, and he hopes it’s not the end of the run for the the storied program.
“You know what, I don’t want them to close,” Mariniello told me Tuesday. “We don’t want to see any Catholic schools close, and especially them because it’s a storied institution with a storied coach and we want to be able to compete against that.
“If they were to close then that doesn’t exist anymore. They set the gold standard on this stuff, so I don’t want St. Anthony’s to close.”
Under the 69-year-old Hurley, St. Anthony’s has won 28 state titles and 13 New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles, including last year when they went a perfect 32-0.
St. Anthony’s led 2-0 and 9-7 for their only leads of the game.
The Hawks led 18-12 after eight minutes and 26-23 at the half. They stretched it to 45-39 after three as King and Quinerly were explosive in transition and the halfcourt.
St. Anthony’s closed to within 56-52 on a bucket by Cole, but Hudson Catholic scored four straight on foul shots by Muhammad and Quinerly to push it to 60-52.
After Quinerly fouled out with under a minute to go, King hit 1-of-2 throws to give Hudson Catholic a 64-58 lead.
Horton drained a three-pointer to pull St. Anthony’s within 64-61 with 5.8 seconds left.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.