Glen Ridge HS boys basketball team returns strong nucleus

Photos by Steve Ellmore.
Aidan Connaghan drives during a game against Cristo Rey last season.
Michael Cifelli drives past a Cristo Rey player last season.
Carter Koenig looks to pass against an Irvington player last season.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge High School boys basketball team has a strong returning nucleus this season.

Glen Ridge will host Brearley in the season opener Thursday, Dec. 19.

The Ridgers return senior guards Joe DeLuca and Aiden Connaghan, junior 6-3 guard Sam Trunley, and sophomore guards Carter Koenig, Michael Cifelli, Carter Koenig and Bryan Moussaka.

Trunley earned second team Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division honors last season. He and DeLuca are the captains of the team.

The Ridgers went 23-6 in the 2016-17 season and 21-8 in the 2017-18 season, finishing as runner-up in the North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament in each of those seasons. Last season, the Ridgers lost a ton of experience to graduation and finished 8-16.

“After back-to-back 20 win seasons, we graduated 95 percent of our scoring going into 2018-19,” said GRHS head coach Liam Carr, a 1995 GRHS graduate who is entering his 14th year at the helm. “And due to our past success, we were moved up to the SEC-Colonial Division. I would argue we had one of the most difficult schedules in the state for a Group I school. What made it difficult was our overall lack of varsity experience. It may have made for a difficult season wins-wise, but our kids have learned what it takes to compete at a high level. I think it has shown in our first two scrimmages.”

Players who should garner varsity minutes this season include 6-3 junior Matt Van Bloem and 6-5 sophomore AJ Snyder.

The team camaraderie has been the Ridgers’ strength, cited Carr.

The Ridgers have moved down to the SEC-Independence Division, which includes Caldwell, Belleville, Arts, Cristo Rey, Newark Academy, Montclair Kimberley Academy and West Essex.

“Our main goal is to make some noise in the SEC-Independence and get back to the Group 1 state tournament,” Carr said. “In order to do so we are going to have to remain healthy and improve our defense, rebounding and screening.”

The assistant coaches are Rich Kennedy, PJ DuWors and Mike Salvatelli.

The key graduated are Simon Low, who is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Kevin Mathew, who is attending Rutgers.


Dec. 19, Brearley, 4 p.m.

Dec. 20, at Montclair Kimberley Academy, 7 p.m.

Dec. 27-28, Bloomfield/Glen Ridge Holiday Tournament, at Bloomfield*

Jan. 3, at Belleville, 7 p.m.

Jan. 4, Kinnelon, 1 p.m.

Jan. 7, Newark Academy, 4 p.m.

Jan. 9, at Caldwell, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11, at Cedar Grove, 11:30 a.m.

Jan. 14, Arts, 4 p.m.

Jan. 16, West Essex, 4 p.m.

Jan. 21, at Cristo Rey, 7 p.m.

Jan. 23, Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.

Jan. 25, Livingston, 11:30 a.m.

Jan. 28, Belleville, 4 p.m.

Feb. 4, at Newark Academy, 4 p.m.

Feb. 6, Caldwell, 4 p.m.

Feb. 8, Oratory Prep, 11:30 a.m.

Feb. 11, at Arts, 7 p.m.

Feb. 13, at West Essex, 4 p.m.

Feb. 20, Cristo Rey, 7 p.m.

Feb. 25, Verona, 4 p.m.

*Bloomfield/Glen Ridge Holiday tournament schedule:

Friday, Dec. 27

Game 1 Girls: Mountain Lakes vs. Glen Ridge, 2 p.m.
Game 2 Girls: People’s Prep vs. Bloomfield, 3:30
Game 3 Boys: Bayonne vs. Glen Ridge, 5:30
Game 4 Boys: People’s Prep vs. Bloomfield, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 28

Game 5 Girls: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2 p.m.
Game 6 Boys: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 3:30 p.m.


Girls: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Boys: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.