IHS boys hoops thrives in summer league

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IRVINGTON, NJ – The Irvington High School boys basketball team has reason to feel excited.

The Blue Knights, under head coach Elias Brantley, return all but one player from last winter’s 21-6 team that captured the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division with an 11-0 divisional record. They started the season at 10-0, 13-1, and 15-2.

The Blue Knights have carried over that success in the prestigious Hamilton Park Summer League held in Jersey City.

Irvington had a 10-3 record through July 23. Their most impressive win was against Hudson Catholic, noted Brantley.

Among some of the top returning players for the Blue Knights are rising seniors Moses Pierre, Kymani Dunbar and Karriem Thomas, who all earned SEC-Colonial Division First Team honors this past winter. The lone graduated player is Dameer Vital, who made SEC-Colonial Division Honorable Mention.

Brantley expected his team to continue their run of success this summer.

“(This past season) we were 21-6 and to bring almost the entire team is big, so I kind of expected them to hit the ground running,” Brantley said. “So far this summer, they have done it.”

In the summer league, Irvington was competitive in a loss to highly-regarded Patrick School. The Blue Knights also dropped a close four-point game to Gill St. Bernard’s, a top-five team in the state this season, despite leading for most of the game, Brantley noted.

The Blue Knights lack height, but have shown a “scrappy” approach, much to Brantley’s delight.

“They are extremely scrappy and they are starting to figure it out and how to play with the lack of height,” said Brantley, a 2006 IHS graduate who has been at the helm since the 2014-15 season.

The final regular-season game in the Hamilton Park League was scheduled for July 29. Each team in the league competes in the playoffs.

Photos by Steve Ellmore and Felicia Laguerre Owens