N.J. boys basketball: Phillipsburg returns scorers, Hackettstown eyes more H/W/S success
Phillipsburg High School’s boys basketball team must replace three starters from last winter’s 12-10 group.
The Stateliners, however, can take solace in the fact that their two returnees to the lineup paced the offense in 2021-22.
Junior forward Andrew Martin averaged 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Matthew Scerbo Jr. registered 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest. Both are shouldering significant responsibilities again, according to coach Todd Sigafoos.
“We want to pay attention to details. We are trying to focus on our spacing and timing on the offensive end, making sure we are setting our screens and sharing the basketball. On the defensive end, communication is our major emphasis,” said Sigafoos, who indicated that the team will lean on its considerable athleticism to create turnovers and score in transition.
Senior guard Jason Martinez, who appeared in all of P’burg’s games last season and was among the team leaders in rebounds, assists and steals, is expected to bring leadership and toughness to the floor.
Hackettstown's Darien Santos drives to the hoop between Zion Baitey (0) and Finn Rodgers (3) of Morristown on Jan. 27.Steve Hockstein | For NJ Advance
Hackettstown has reached the final in the last two Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex tournaments (the event wasn’t held in 2020-21), and is on the heels of its first county title and an 18-8 campaign.
Senior guard Ethan Almeida, last year’s H/W/S Most Valuable Player, returns to the backcourt after averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 2021-22. He’s joined by classmate Darien Santos, an All-Area fourth-team pick who provided 15.4 points and 2 assists per contest.
Another senior guard, Andrew Carida, is also in the fold, after a productive football season. Despite being listed at 5-foot-11, he led the Tigers in rebounding last winter.
Around Warren County
Belvidere hopes a large cast of seniors guides the County Seaters to double-digit victories and a spot in the NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 tournament.
“They are committed to keeping practices upbeat and growing towards our goals each day,” coach Seth Hineline said of the seniors: guards Gavin Chamberlain, Peter Discafani and Matt Sroka, and forwards Thomas Tighe, Patrick DePew and Alex Rodrigues.
Discafani is the team’s top returning scorer (9.4 points per game). Sophomore guard Mason Chamberlain will have an expanded role.
Warren Hills won six of their opening eight games last season but stumbled down the stretch, dropping nine of its final 10.
The Blue Streaks graduated a number of key contributors. However, they bring back leading scorer, senior guard Tommy Flaherty (14.1 points per game).
North Warren had a similar late-season swoon, losing 11 of 12 after Jan. 31.
6-foot-4 senior Craig Shipps, a football standout, paced the Patriots in scoring last season with 14.9 points per game. Junior Christian Otufale tallied 8.3 points per contest last winter.
Delaware Valley’s Justin Kolpan dribbles while chased by Warren Hills’ Blessing Ekwauzi on Jan. 22.
Delaware Valley has the largest void to fill -- literally. The Terriers said goodbye to Logan Blake, a 6-foot-7 forward and All-Area first-teamer who set the program’s single-season scoring record and reached the 1,000-point plateau in 2021-22.
Del Val wants to capture a third straight Skyland Conference Mountain Division crown for the first time in program history.
Justin Kolpan (senior) and Frankie Denvir (junior), two guards capable of knocking down 3-pointers, lead the backcourt after averaging about 8 points apiece last season. Forwards Shane Young, a senior, and Jack Reardon, a junior, are important pieces for Terriers coach Mike DePaolo, who labeled the squad “extremely coachable.”
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North Hunterdon is now a member of the Skyland Conference Valley Division, joining Warren Hills and Voorhees. The Lions must replace scoring and rebounding production if they’re to bounce back from last season’s 6-19 effort.
Four seniors set the tone -- forwards Jack Clancy-Mallue and Luke Martini, guard Ryan Gilhooly and swingman Tommy Mazurkiewicz. Junior guard James DelSantro will also make an impact.
Cohesiveness and unselfishness are two words that come to mind for coach Kyle Rehrig when describing the Lions.
Voorhees won 17 games last winter. Replacing four starters, including do-everything guard Justin Vernieri, will be no small task, though.
Senior guard Connor Duggan is the lone Viking with starting experience. He’ll have more opportunities after chipping in 9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Senior Aiden Pierro and junior Justin Wistuba, both guards, have logged varsity minutes as well.
“We have a guard-heavy lineup, which will allow for an up-tempo and spread style of play,” Voorhees coach Kevin Schafer said. “We look for our senior leadership, led by our captain (Duggan), ... to play a vital role in our team success. This talented group of players has the capability that on any given night, it can be any two or three guys (who) step up.”
Belvidere: Skyland Mountain Division/North 2 Group 1
Delaware Valley: Skyland Mountain Division/Central Group 2
Hackettstown: NJAC Freedom Division/North 2 Group 2
North Hunterdon: Skyland Valley Division/North 2 Group 3
North Warren: NJAC Colonial Division/North 1 Group 1
Phillipsburg: Skyland Raritan Division/North 2 Group 4
Voorhees: Skyland Valley Division/North 2 Group 3
Warren Hills: Skyland Valley Division/North 2 Group 3
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Kyle Craig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.