Caldwell Hoops Off to a Hot Start

By: Brad Banaszynski

Boys Basketball Coat Drive. Image courtesy of Brad Banaszynski.

Boys Basketball Coat Drive. Image courtesy of Brad Banaszynski.

The Chiefs Boys Basketball Team has had a standout first half of the season. With an outstanding eight wins and two losses, the boys have already surpassed the amount of wins they achieved in total last year. Dominating the teams in their division, the boys have been undefeated in their conference so far. After two consecutive wins before the Holiday Tournament, the team felt confident going into the first round matching up against Verona. The Verona game was a hard-fought battle that came down to the final seconds, when the Hillbillies took a one point lead during the last minute of the game and Caldwell could not bounce back. Then, the Chiefs faced another loss to Cedar Grove in the consolation game.

Since then, Caldwell has rallied back and won their last six straight games. Among the Chief’s wins this season, one of the best games was their huge win over Milburn on the program’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer game, in which 2014 JCHS graduate Steve Brown was honored for his fight against Leukemia over the past year. That day, Caldwell upset Milburn–a town that is several divisions higher than Caldwell–by 25 points. This game was definitely the highlight of Caldwell’s season up until now. Another noteworthy game this year included Caldwell’s win over Belleville, which went into quadruple overtime. Senior Neil Murjani played a huge overtime role in this game, scoring two consecutive three-point shots and a strong lay-up to bring Caldwell back and send the game into its fourth overtime.

Captains Brian Zales and Hunter Smith did a great job so far this year, leading the Boys Team to a strong first half of the season. Other players such as Austin Scott, Nick Berlangieri, and Kenny Barone have also made huge contributions to the team this year. Caldwell is looking forward to having a promising Essex County Tournament and post-season State Tournament performance. Although Essex County is among one of the best counties in New Jersey for basketball, Caldwell is hoping to make a run this year in the tournament. A few years back, Caldwell faced up a couple rounds against the power-house Seton Hall Prep, but eventually losing the game. This year, the boys want to make a similar run in the county tournament. So far, the Chiefs have set themselves up for a high seed for the tournaments, especially if they continue their win streak, and they are hoping to use the seeds to their advantage.