Team: Saint Anthony Friars
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Group: North Non-Public B
By Jimmy Oliver
The Friars of St. Anthony High School are no strangers to being on top and in the national spotlight. Year after year, fans and prognosticators alike often talk about this talented team from Jersey City as not just the region’s best, but one of the nation’s most dynamic squads.
Well, in 2008-2009, they very well may be at the summit once again.
Most recently, the Friars did the unthinkable in high school basketball and went 32-0 during the ’07-’08 season, and they did so with authority. The Friars averaged 78 points per game while allowing fewer than 40 per game. All the while, 16 of those wins came at neutral site events. It’s evident that the Friars can win wherever the road takes them. And perhaps even more importantly, St. Anthony can pull off victories when it’s needed the most.
Judging by the team’s track record, winning certainly seems to be contagious. The Friars possess a remarkable 25 New Jersey Parochial championships and nine Tournament of Champions titles. The tournament has been in existence since ‘89 and some even say that the event was put in place just to showcase the mighty Friars.
The Friars first made national headlines with that ’89 team littered with talent as three different players made it to the NBA (Terry Dehere, Bobby Hurley and Rodrick Rhodes). Two other players made a splash, all-Big East selection Jerry Walker and future Seton Hall Pirate Dan Hurley.
This year’s Friars team returns eight players for the new campaign, and all but one is less than six feet. Dominic Cheeck can be considered as the the most vital piece towards the team returning to the championship this year. Last season, the standout forward posted 12 points per game and 7 rebounds per outing.
Meanwhile, the Friars will also benefit from two transfers in Devon Collier and Ashton Pankey. There is no doubt that infamous head coach Bob Hurley will have the newest version of the Friars ready to hustle and defend, two core ingredients of success for the squad.
And who would know better than a man that has over 900 wins in his 35 years at St. Anthony. By all accounts, Hurley is certainly demanding, but the longtime coach is also a figure that can motivate his players every night and get the most out of each personality. And he asks for a level of play that would be considered state championship style. It’s no wonder that Hurley is a candidate for the Hall of Fame this year.
With Hurley at the helm and another capable roster back ready to reclaim the championship, the Friars will certainly be making waves from Jersey City and all the way to the shores of the Pacific. By the looks of it, this is a talent-laden team poised to make a splash in ’09.
You can reach SportsPower correspondent Jimmy Oliver at email@example.com.