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Tuesday / October 3.
  • St. Anthony’s ‘Core Four’ Shoots to Go 65-0

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    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In addition to being a Hall of Fame basketball coach, Bob Hurley is also a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees.

    And so perhaps it comes as no surprise that as his team enters the final game of its season — the final game on the New Jersey high school basketball calendar — he was drawing a comparison between his quartet of key players and the Yankees “Core Four.”

    “The Yankee core of Mariano and Jeter and Posada and Pettitte was the ‘Core Four’ for a very long time and our ‘Core Four’ during the course of the season has been Kyle [Anderson] and Jerome [Frink] and Josh Brown and Hallice [Cooke],” Hurley told following St. Anthony practice Monday.

    “And they’ve been from steady to great and the other kids we filled in along the way.”

    St. Anthony (31-0) will take a two-year long winning-streak of 64 games into Tuesday’s New Jersey Tournament of Champions final against Plainfield (30-3) at the Izod Center.

    A second win against Plainfield this season would give the Friars — No. 3 in several major national polls — a two-year record of 65-0.

    St. Anthony hasn’t lost since March 13, 2010.

    Since coming to St. Anthony after Paterson Catholic closed for financial reasons, UCLA-bound senior Kyle Anderson, a McDonald’s All-American and the most talented member of the “Core Four,” has never lost a game in a Friars uniform.

    Despite 11 Tournament of Champions titles and all the great teams Hurley has had in his career, this is the longest winning streak any of his clubs has ever managed.

    “It’s just a great thing to be a part of with my team,” Anderson said. “A couple of teammates, we were talking about it. We’ve been pretty happy about it. [Sixty-four] and 0, I think that’s the school record so it’s good.”

    Since the beginning of this season, seven players have departed the St. Anthony team, including six who Hurley kicked out of his gym for failing to measure up to his standards and one who was injured.

    Not many coaches in America would risk booting one or two players from a team in the midst of a 64-game winning streak, much less six.

    What’s left is a club that is certainly no collection of stars like Hurley’s 2008 team that featured six Division 1-bound seniors, including Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas) and Mike Rosario (Florida), both of whom are in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

    It’s a solid, rugged group based around Anderson, whom Hurley says is “close to” the greatest Friar of all time and “the most complete player” he’s ever coached.

    It’s a group that is, statistically speaking, Hurley’s best defensive team ever.

    “The really good [opponents] have gotten into the 50s and I think maybe [Thomas] Jefferson over in the city got to 60 in a game over there,” Hurley said of his team’s 71-60 win over the Brooklyn school last month. “But in a lot of big games for us have been under 50. It takes a lot of pressure off your offense. If your defense can do that, then you’re not so worried about certain things during the game.”

    Through all the turnover and exits, Anderson, Frink, Brown and Cooke have persevered and been the core just as Rivera, Jeter, Posada and Pettitte were for so many years with the Yankees.

    While the 6-9 Anderson is headed to UCLA and the 6-3 Brown, a junior, has committed to future Big East member Temple, the 6-7 Frink, a senior power forward, and the 6-3 Cooke, a junior point guard, remain uncommitted.

    According to research by The Star-Ledger, St. Anthony has captured 11 Tournament of Champions titles in 23 years and is 25-1 in all T of C games, with a winning streak of 22. St. Anthony has not lost in the tournament since 1990 when they fell o Elizabeth in the final, 65-62.

    In 13 T of C appearances, the Friars have been the No. 1 seed 11 times, the No. 2 seed once and No. 3 once.

    Since winning the inaugural title in 1989 on a team that featured Bobby Hurley and Terry Dehere , St. Anthony has never gone more than three years without winning it again.

    Now they are on the verge of winning their second straight and third in five years.

    And if they do, they will have their “Core Four” to thank for it.


    (Photos:, Hudson County Varsity)

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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.

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