BLOOMFIELD, NJ – The Bloomfield High School boys’ basketball team enjoyed a stellar summer while hosting its annual Summer League.
The Bengals, under new head coach Mike Passero, defeated Wayne Hills convincingly in the playoff semifinals on Thursday night, July 26. Immediately after the game, they played a good Newark West Side team in the final, but lost handily.
Despite falling in the final, Passero was elated with his team’s play.
“I think we had a great summer,” said Passero the next day. “It’s not even about making it to the championship game, (but) just playing and continuing to get better in the summer. A lot of kids that were on the borderline really took some big steps this summer to improve and to contribute as varsity players next year.”
Passero was impressed by the leadership from the team’s two most experienced players in rising seniors Michael Ramos and Will Robinson. Ramos, a point guard, is considered one of the top returning players in the area. He scored his 1,000 career point as a junior.
Passero also was delighted to see strong play from rising seniors Basheer Salaam, Isiah McCallam, Gael Refuse, and Tochi Anywanu.
The Bengals are coming off two magnificent seasons under Pat Brunner. They won the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state championship in 2017, their first state sectional title since 1977, before finishing with a 24-6 season. This past season, the Bengals advanced to the North 1, Group 4 semifinals where they lost to North Bergen to finish with a 22-7 record.
Brunner stepped down in June after a successful 13-year tenure to take over as the athletic director at Mountain Lakes. Passero played for Brunner at Verona HS before graduating in 2000, and served as Brunner’s assistant coach on the Bengals staff for the past 10 years.
Passero, indeed, is excited about next season as the team continues to work hard.
“We talked to the kids last night about how we had a good summer and now we just have to carry that into the fall,” Passero said. “We’ll be in the weight room; they will have individual workouts and we also run a fall league, so we’ll play during the fall, too. We have a few kids that are fall sport athletes, so for the most part, we’ll all be together.”
Photos by Steve Ellmore.