Nutley’s Columbia-Walsh excels as top forward for MKA hoops

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MONTCLAIR, NJ — Nutley resident Brennan Columbia-Walsh, a versatile 6-foot-4 junior forward for the Montclair Kimberley Academy basketball team, has continued to make considerable progress in his third year as a starter for the Cougars while developing into one of the better players in the Super Essex Conference Freedom Division.

“Brennan has continued to get better each year he has been in the program,” MKA co-coach Anthony Rea said. “Last year, he averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds, and I know he wants to improve on those numbers. He has been able to expand his jump-shooting range in the off-season and also improve his defense through his hard work.

“I think he will continue to become a more well-rounded player as the season progresses, while continuing to dominate the interior.”

Columbia-Walsh had 24 points and 17 rebounds in the season-opening win vs. West Caldwell Tech, contributed 20 points and seven boards vs. Weequahic, and had 23 points and 16 caroms in the loss at Shabazz.

The Cougars appear to have a solid shot at competing from start to finish for an SEC Freedom Division crown, with the likes of other possible title contenders such as West Caldwell Tech and Shabazz.

MKA has shown early promise with its season-opening 70-55 win over West Caldwell Tech on Jan. 28 and a 60-49 triumph over Weequahic on Feb. 6. There have been setbacks in an SEC crossover at Caldwell, 54-50, on Jan. 30, and in division action, 58-49 at Shabazz, on Feb. 9, and 55-45 to Nutley on Feb. 13.

With two seniors and three juniors who all have at least two seasons of varsity experience under their belts, the Cougars lineup has that all-important experience factor, which should help them in making a strong run at an SEC title in the next few weeks.

“Having a starting five that has extensive experience on the varsity level has certainly helped us early on this season, especially with a shortened preseason,” Rea said. “Our two seniors, Noah Wolk and Brendan LaLonde, have been playing on the varsity level since they were sophomores, and our three juniors, Dylan Sachs, Brennan Columbia-Walsh and Isiah Udofia, have been playing since they were freshmen. They have seen a lot of varsity basketball, and that experience helps us to be prepared for whatever we may see during the remainder of the season.”

Photos Courtesy of Gene Nann