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 Looking to Spoil The Patrick School’s Run Towards a TOC Title
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Luther Muhammad and his Hudson Catholic teammates know they can play competitively with The Patrick School, the favorite to win the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title.
After all, Hudson Catholic led The Patrick School during their game in December at the City of Palms Classic in Florida, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, 65-63.
Now the two Garden State powers will renew acquaintances in the Non-Public B state title game at 5 o’clock on Saturday at the Ritacco Center in Toms River. On a huge night of basketball in the area, the game will tip shortly before the Big East final at Madison Square Garden (5:30) and then the ACC final at Barclays Center (9).
“I’m ready, I’m ready,” Muhammad said Wednesday night after scoring 15 points as the Hawks ended St. Anthony’s season in the North Non-Public B title game in what may have been St. Anthony’s last game ever. “This is over, I’m on to the next. I’m prepared for that now….I’ll probably hit the gym tonight, to be honest.”
Beating St. Anthony’s and the school formerly known as St. Patrick’s back-to-back would be some accomplishment, that’s for sure.
Under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley, St. Anthony’s won 13 TOC titles, while St. Pat’s won five under former coach Kevin Boyle. Led by Kentucky-bound center Nick Richards, who dropped 28 points and 16 rebounds in the South Non-Public B final against Roselle Catholic, the Celtics are loaded and looking for their first TOC title as The Patrick School, now co-coached by Mike Rice and Chris Chavannes.
The winner of Saturday’s game will likely be the favorite to win this year’s TOC.
“We played St. Pat’s in the beginning of the season and I think we played well in the first half,” Hudson Catholic coach Nick Mariniello said. “If we guard and we do the things that we do well, I think it’ll be a good high school basketball game.”
The game will feature a slew of Division 1 commits and prospects.
The Celtics have five signed players already in Richards, Jamir Harris (Minnesota), Marcus McClary (Monmouth), Bul Ajang (Tulane), Buay Koka (Tulane) plus uncommitted point guard Jordan Walker.
As they have against most teams, The Patrick School will have a big advantage on the front line, where they boast major-college size in Richards, Ajang, Koka and junior Valdir Manuel, all of whom run 6-9 or bigger.
The Hawks would love to get into an uptempo game as they counter with the “Big Three” of Muhammad, point guard Jahvon Quinerly and small forward Louis King, all of whom are being recruited at the highest levels. They combined for 60 points against the Hurley-coached Friars’ defense.
“When all three of us are firing,” Quinerly said, “me, Luther and Louis King and our role players are playing well I think we’re unstoppable”
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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 and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, 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.