Coach Robinson proud of CHS boys hoops team this season

Columbia head coach Eugene ‘Bam’ Robinson, left, poses with his son, senior point guard Jalen Robinson. (Photo by Joe Ragozzino)
Columbia’s Jalen Robinson is shown during a game this season (Photo Courtesy of Owen Ballard)

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — When the season was over, head coach Eugene “Bam” Robinson and his Columbia High School boys basketball team were able to look back with great satisfaction.

The Cougars, competing against tough opponents all season, finished with a stellar 19-8 overall record, including going 9-3 in the Super Essex Conference–Liberty Division, which is the second-highest of the five divisions in the conference. Columbia tied with Irvington High School for second place in the seven-team division. Caldwell High School won the division with a 10-2 mark.

At the beginning of the year, Robinson believed the Cougars could be a top-four team in Essex County. Sure enough, he was right. The Cougars advanced to the Essex County Tournament semifinals, losing to eventual runner-up Arts High School of Newark 38-30 on Saturday, Feb. 11, in the semifinals doubleheader held at West Orange High School.

The Cougars were the sixth seed in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 state tournament. To Robinson, the section was one of the toughest in the state. 

The Cougars defeated 11th-seeded Phillipsburg High School 65-54 in the first round at home on Tuesday, Feb. 21, before losing at third-seeded Hillsborough High School 48-41 in the quarterfinals to end the season. 

Linden, seeded second, defeated eighth-seeded Newark East Side High School 63-62 in the final on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

The Cougars this season were led by senior point guard Jalen Robinson, the coach’s son, who scored his 1,000th career point in the 51-46 win at Ridgewood High School on Thursday, Feb. 16, in a non-conference game. Jalen Robinson will continue his career on a basketball scholarship at Division 1 New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Jayden Myers also had a strong season. The sophomore guard is considered a Division 1 collegiate prospect.

Other key contributors were seniors Chris Berry, Nerlens Jean-Pierre and Jake Blaney, juniors Jalen James and Jared Carlucci, and sophomore Shelton Colwell, who was the team’s top rebounder.

“It was a good year and a good group,” said coach Robinson, who completed his ninth year at the helm. “It was a relatively young group with a lot of those guys coming back. We were in a tough section. We had goals and we reached a lot of those goals. We wanted to definitely compete for that sectional championship. But we always felt we were good enough to make the final four of the county, and we proved it. We came up short in the sectional, but that’s a tough section, from the first round on. I was very pleased with everything that we accomplished and we matured all year long.”