WEST ORANGE, NJ – In his first year at the helm last winter, Demond Cowins guided the West Orange High School boys’ varsity basketball team to a respectable season as the Mountaineers finished just under .500 with a 12-13 record. In fact, the 16th-seeded Mountaineers gave No. 1 seed and eventual champion Bloomfield a competitive game in a 57-52 loss in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament to end the campaign.
After a strong showing this summer, Cowins has reason to feel excited for the upcoming high school season that begins in December.
“I am pretty excited, because we are returning a lot of guys,” said Cowins, who was promoted to head coach right before the start of last season after serving as an assistant coach. “I am pretty excited about the talent that is coming back.”
The Mountaineers participated in two highly competitive summer leagues, both in Bloomfield, reaching as far as the semifinals in each league. The Mountaineers fell to Newark Central in the Bloomfield College playoff semifinals on July 26, and lost to West Side the following night in the annual Bloomfield High School League semis.
Though acknowledging that the team still has room for improvement, Cowins was quite pleased with the Mountaineers’ play this summer.
“If I had to give a rating about their performance over the summer, I would give it about an 85. We still have a lot of work, but we had a pretty stellar summer,” Cowins said.
Among the players who impressed this summer were Robert “Trey” Meaux, William Garth-Hill, junior twins Kenyon Sheard and Stephon Sheard, and Godley Marc. Goddy Marc, Godley Marc, also played for the Mountaineers.
In all, the Mountaineers had a roster of 24 players combined for both leagues.
“Our guys played very well together,” Cowins said. “We were missing a couple of guys because of vacation and stuff like that. But when we are at full strength, I think we are going to be a very solid team.”
Photos by Steve Ellmore: West Orange vs. West Side in the Bloomfield HS League semifinals, July 27.