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.
St. Anthony, St. Benedict’s Still Unbeaten as Big Weekend Looms
At 15-0, Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict’s Prep hasn’t lost a game so far this year.
Neither has Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony, which is 11-0 and counting.
In fact, Bob Hurley’s club hasn’t lost a game since March 2010, a winning streak that is now running at 76 games over the last two-plus seasons.
“It never comes up,” Hurley told SNY.tv Friday. “The only time it comes up is when somebody asks this question. We’re just working on 26 games [in the schedule] this year. We haven’t lost a game yet.”
Hurley’s club has three games in the next four days — all in showcase events.
Led by Temple-bound guard Josh Brown and Oregon State signee Hallice Cooke, the Friars have a busy weekend.
They face Paterson (N.J.) Kennedy Friday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer event at Kennedy. On Saturday, they face Atlantic City in the Dan Finn Classic in Jersey City. And on Sunday, they travel to the Naismith Hall of Fame to play Tift County (Ga.) in the Hoophall Classic on Monday at 10 a.m.
St. Benedict’s faces Montrose (Va.) Christian in the event on Sunday at 2 p.m. (ESPNU).
“It’s more like we’re going up there to be in a college atmosphere and we’re going to play our game at 10 and get on the bus and come home,” Hurley said.
Hurley is never one to look too far ahead and his primary goal is always preparing for the Non-Public B state tournament and then the New Jersey Tournament of Champions. Led by current UCLA freshman Kyle Anderson, the Friars won back-to-back TOC titles in 2011 and ’12 and the school has won 12 overall.
“We also know that our big rival in the Northern part of the state is Hudson Catholic (14-1) and so seedings for the state is the biggest concern for record there,” Hurley said. “And we’re focusing on keeping ourselves with a good record so we wind up either having home games or neutral court for the state tournament. So that’s one way of interpreting winning games is to put a reason as to why you’re trying to do this, and that’s our reason.”
After this busy weekend, the Friars will play in the SNY Invitational Jan. 25 and 26 at City College of New York in the Nat Holman Gymnasium. The event also features Boys & Girls, Long Island Lutheran and Cardinal Hayes.
On Jan. 25, Cardinal Hayes plays LuHi at 6, with St. Anthony facing Boys & Girls at 8. The consolation game is set for 2 p.m on Jan. 26, with the championship at 4. St. Anthony is the defending champ.
A week after the SNY Invitational, St. Anthony and St. Benedict’s will square off Feb. 1 in the Newark National Invitational at the Prudential Center.
A year ago, St. Benedict’s blew an 8-point third-quarter lead and lost to St. Anthony, 51-50, in the New Year’s Jump Off. Anderson went for 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the win, which kept St. Anthony’s two-year winning streak alive.
If both teams stay unbeaten until then, it could be another special game between Jersey rivals.
“That’s going to be another great game,” St. Ben’s coach Mark Taylor told SNY.tv. “Hopefully, it lives up to last year’s billing. St. Anthony’s, everybody keeps saying they’re not as good. But I watched, they defend great, they score by committee, so they’re good. They’re better than people think, and they haven’t lost in over three years so they got a lot going for them.”
First off, though, St. Ben’s meets Baylor-bound forward Ish Wainright and Montrose Christian on Sunday.
The Gray Bees are led by Syracuse-bound point guard Tyler Ennis, uncommitted sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe and Pitt-bound forward Mike Young.
“Our guys are very excited about it,” Taylor said. “It’s an opportunity to prove ourselves on a national stage and on national TV on ESPNU. Our guys I think are extremely excited to play.”
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.