GLEN RIDGE, NJ – On the heels of another strong season this past winter, the Glen Ridge High School boys’ basketball team concluded a productive summer in the annual Bloomfield High School Summer League.
The Ridgers defeated Nutley in the first round of the playoffs on Monday, July 23, but dropped a tough five-point decision to Wayne Hills in the quarterfinals the following night to finish summer play.
Because the team didn’t have much depth this summer, the Ridgers opted to only play in the BHS Summer League. Last summer, they played in both the Bloomfield College and BHS leagues.
The Bloomfield High School Summer League “is a great fit for us,” said GRHS head coach Liam Carr. “We know the Bloomfield High School coaching staff very well.”
The Ridgers have posted back-to-back magnificent seasons under Carr, finishing as runner-up in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament in each season. They finished 23-6 in the 2016-17 season after losing to University on a buzzer-beater in the sectional final at home. This past winter, the Ridgers went 21-8, falling to host Bloomfield Tech in the sectional final.
This upcoming season, the Ridgers have been elevated to the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division, which is the third highest division in the conference.
Carr said the team will have one of the top 10 toughest Group 1 schedules in the state. The Ridgers will face the likes of Newark Tech, University and Irvington in divisional play.
That’s why the summer proved crucial for the Ridgers, who hope to continue their success despite the daunting competition.
Kevin Mathew and Simon Low provided key leadership as senior captains for the Ridgers this summer.
Overall, Carr was impressed by his team’s play in summer competition.
“They played pretty well,” said Carr, noting the team won a handful of games in the BHS League. “We got an interesting mix of good senior captains, along with a junior (Joe DeLuca), sophomore (Sam Trunley), and after that, talent-wise, that’s where we are a little bit scattered. We may wind up having to play a handful of freshmen because we’re going to play in the Colonial Division in the SEC.
“So altogether, (the summer was) productive. The kids played a decent amount of games. I think they know we’re not going to be as talented as the last couple of years, but they want to kind of carry the torch and I think they are going to play people tough.”
Moving up a division “comes with having success, and it’s going to be tough for these guys, but I think they are up to it,” Carr added. “You might be able to beat us with talent, but you have to figure out a way to out-scrap us.”
The Ridgers recognize that hard work will be necessary once official practice begins in November.
“They know they are going to have to go to work once the season begins in November,” Carr said.
NOTES – Pat Dunnigan, who served as the JV coach at GRHS in his one and only season last year after coming from Randolph, was named the new coach at Brearley in Kenilworth. “He was great for us,” said Carr of Dunnigan, who teaches in Hillside. “They got a great hire… I think he is going to be a great (head) coach.”
This year’s Bloomfield HS coaching staff is under new head coach Mike Passero, who was promoted from assistant coach after longtime head coach Pat Brunner was named the athletic director at Mountain Lakes…Bloomfield Tech and North 13th St. Tech have merged to form the new Payne Tech, located in Newark. Payne Tech is named after the late U.S. Congressman Donald Payne.
Photos by Steve Ellmore.