IRVINGTON, NJ – For any team, it’s all about getting hot when the postseason arrives.
That’s certainly the case for the fifth-seeded Irvington High School boys’ varsity basketball team, which advanced to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 state tournament championship game after knocking off eighth-seeded Colonia, 53-42, Saturday, March 3, at home.
Karriem Thomas scored 16 points and added three assists and Andrew Sylvestre had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Blue Knights, who won their fourth straight game to improve to an 18-10 record.
Under head coach Elias Brantley, the Blue Knights will visit second-seeded Chatham in the championship game on March 6. It marks the first section final appearance for IHS since 2013 when it lost to Newark East Side in North Jersey Section 2, Group 3.
The winner between IHS and Chatham will advance to the NJSIAA Group 3 state semifinal on March 8 at East Orange Campus HS at 7 p.m. against the North Jersey Section 1 winner between Ramapo and Demarest. The Group 3 state championship game will be held March 11 at Rutgers University.
Leading 11-6 at the end of the first quarter, the Blue Knights outscored Colonia, 17-4, in the second quarter for a 28-10 halftime. Colonia rallied with an 18-12 fourth quarter, but the Blue Knights held on for the win.
Kevin Kirkpatrick had six points, 14 rebounds and four blocks; Dezyln Sebastien scored seven points; Kymani Dunbar had six points and five rebounds;Jiair Bucknor had four points and two steals; and Nasamier Brooks scored four points. Dameer Vital and Jasiah Provillon also saw action in the game.
Colonia, which finished runner-up in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship this season, ended with a 17-10 record. Colonia upset top-seeded Rahway, 51-49, in the quarterfinals.
The Blue Knights defeated No. 13 seed Parsippany Hills, 75-57, Feb. 28 at home in the quarterfinals. Thomas scored 22 points with four assists; Dunbar had 18 points and 10 rebounds; Bucknor had 11 points; Sebastien had six points; Sylvestre had five points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals; Brooks and Vital each had four points; Kirkpatrick had three points and five rebounds and JhaZair Head added two points.
Irvington defeated Newark Collegiate, 67-43, in the regular-season finale Feb. 21 before beating No. 12 seed Nutley, 75-45, in the first round on Feb. 26 at home.
Chatham defeated No. 6 seed Snyder, 60-57, in the semifinals to improve to a 25-5 record. Chatham won its third straight Morris County Tournament championship with a 47-41 win over Delbarton.
This is Brantley’s fourth season at the IHS helm. Brantley is a 2006 IHS graduate who played for Eugene “Bam” Robinson, an IHS graduate who led the Blue Knights to the Group 3 state title in his senior year in 1993. Brantley succeeded Robinson, who stepped down after the 2013-14 season after 12 seasons. Robinson also completed his fourth year as the head boys’ varsity basketball coach at nearby Columbia HS.