GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge High School boys basketball team has enjoyed a great season so far, with an impressive 9-3 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the Super Essex Conference–Independence Division, through Saturday, Jan. 22.
A major reason for the Ridgers’ success has been the leadership of their six seniors — Ryan O’Neil, Carter Koenig, Andrew Snyder, Bryan Moussako, Michael Cifelli and Justin Fields. The seniors have formed a strong bond that was forged when they were in elementary school.
Some of those seniors expressed their take on the team’s season during a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Moussako mentioned that each of the seniors has embraced his role on the team, whether it’s Koenig getting rebounds and points, or Cifelli getting his assists and rebounds.
“I think that core really helps us out a lot,” Moussako said.
Koenig cited the team’s competitive fire and chemistry.
“Some of our biggest highlights have been just how we have been able to compete,” Koenig said. “I definitely think a big part of it is us just sticking together and not losing focus of what we want to do as a team.”
Koenig pointed out Cifelli’s strong defense on Newark Academy’s Chase Clarke. Cifelli held Clarke, one of the top scorers in the state, to 13 points in the Ridgers’ 51-33 home win in the first game of the season on Dec. 17. Clarke averaged 27.9 points a game last season.
Koenig credited the GRHS coaching staff, led by head coach and GRHS alumnus Rich Kennedy, in helping the Ridgers this season.
Another highlight was the thrilling experience of playing at the Prudential Center in Newark, said Koenig, despite the Ridgers losing to Millburn there in a heartbreaking 42-41 decision.
“Although we didn’t come away with the win, I think we definitely learned a lot from that game,” Koenig said.
O’Neil and Cifelli echoed their senior teammates’ sentiments about their strong chemistry.
“We’ve all been playing with each other since fourth grade, so we are pretty glued in and jell together pretty well,” O’Neil said. “We know how each other plays and we know our styles.”
“We got six guys who are all seniors who know what each of us need to do in every game,” Cifelli said. “We know our roles, and we know how to work together. I think that’s definitely been a big strength of ours.”
Kennedy is in his second year as the GRHS head coach. He took over for Liam Carr, who was the GRHS head coach for 14 seasons, from 2006-07 to 2019-20. Kennedy and Carr were teammates on the GRHS boys basketball team for three seasons, leading the Ridgers to consecutive conference titles in the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons.
Kennedy, a two-year captain for the Ridgers, is a member of the GRHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Ridgers were 9-1 before losing two straight games last week. Glen Ridge lost a tough 44-42 decision to Newark Academy in Livingston Jan. 20. Moussako had 19 points, Koenig had 11 points and Cifelli had 6 points.
Koenig had 10 points and Moussako and Cifelli each had 6 points in the 44-31 home loss to Watchung Hills Jan. 22. Snyder had 5 points and O’Neil had 4 points.
Photos Courtesy of Christina Glantz