Bengals finish runner-up in summer playoffs

BHS boys hoops team shows resolve in semis; gains great experience in its annual league

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ – The Bloomfield High School boys basketball team finished runner-up in the playoffs in its annual BHS Summer League on Thursday night, July 25.

After trailing early by 12, the Bengals rallied to beat Newark West Side, 43-39, in the semifinals. West Side won the Bloomfield summer league title in each of the past two years.

The Bengals, under head coach Mike Passaro, then lost to Newark Tech, 32-28, in the championship game to end the night.

In the first round, the Bengals defeated Millburn on July 22 before beating Becton in the quarterfinals two nights later.

Newark Tech defeated Verona in the second semifnal that followed the BHS-West Side game.

Passaro, who will enter his second year at the BHS helm this winter, directed the summer league, which included 20 schools.

The Bengals hope to springboard this summer’s success into the high school season in the winter, hoping to improve on their 12-13 record in 2018-19.

The Bengals lost several players to graduation, such as 6-1 forward Will Robinson, guard Tochi Anyanwu, 6-5 center Isiah McCallam, and Kevin Mitchell.

BHS will return rising juniors: forward Chino Anywanu, guard Vernon Lee, 6-2 forward Andre Dean, and guard Khayne’ Tucker; rising senior guards Patrick Liggins and Vinny Torrisi; senior Brandon Estelle; and rising sophomores: 6-4 center Uma Kalu, guard/forward Ram Gotrasse, and forward/center Seth Edwards.

Indeed, Passero was ecstatic with his team’s performance in the summer league.

“With a relatively young group (only three seniors), getting everyone quality time vs. varsity competition has to be one of the biggest takeaways from the summer,” Passero said in an email to The Independent Press. “It allowed them to see firsthand where and what they need to improve on. It also showed that with continued hard work, they can compete at that level next winter.

“We’re all going to enjoy the month of August. Hopefully all our guys will take a few vacations with their families and relax, then be ready to gear it back up in September in the weight room and our fall league.”

Photos by Jerry Simon. Bloomfield, 2018-19 high school season