Road warriors! Belleville HS boys basketball team enjoying winning season

Despite not having a home gym, Bucs posting fine success

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BELLEVILLE, NJ — The Belleville High School boys basketball team has overcome the odds.

The Buccaneers feature five strong seniors, but not much depth. In addition, the team has had to play all its games on the road, due to the damage caused by Tropical Storm Ida to the high school gym in early September.

Nevertheless, the Bucs have enjoyed success this winter, with a 15-7 overall record through Feb. 19, regrouping from a 1-2 start when they didn’t have their full complement of players due to health issues.

Bucs head coach Jim Catalano has had the pleasure of guiding those seniors for the past four years. They are cousins Ethan Laquindanum and Shanne Laquindanum, Terence Folkes, Nasir Bey and Richmond Casino. Folkes is a forward, while the other four seniors are guards.

Catalano praised his players’ positive attitude despite the adversity.

“The kids never complained, never had their head down,” Catalano told the Belleville Post in a phone interview following the 55-42 win over Verona on Feb. 9. “They listened and they’re great kids. We have a super relationship. I couldn’t ask anything more of them.”

Among the Bucs’ keys to success is their tenacious defense. Catalano said he runs a complex defensive scheme that takes time to master.

The Bucs also defeated teams that compete in higher divisions than they do in the Super Essex Conference. The Bucs compete in the SEC–Colonial Division, which is the third-highest division in the conference, and had a 6-6 divisional record through Feb. 19. They defeated Bloomfield in an SEC crossover game and beat No. 17 seed Montclair, 67-49, in the third preliminary round of the Essex County Tournament. Belleville, seeded No. 16, then lost to top-seeded Seton Hall Prep in the ECT first round on Feb. 5 but regrouped to beat Verona in their next game on Feb. 9.

The other key contributor for the Bucs is sophomore Andrey Laquindanum, Shanne’s brother. The team doesn’t play many players. Most of these players sometimes log all 32 minutes in a game.

The Bucs were the No. 6 seed in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3, tournament. They were scheduled to host No. 11 seed Payne Tech in the first round on Tuesday, March 1. 

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Simon