By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
For the first time ever, the Kearny boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will be playing NJSIAA state playoff games at the same location against the same school. Both the Kardinal boys and girls qualified for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV playoffs and the Kardinals will be part of a special doubleheader Monday night (March 2) at Paterson Kennedy.
First, the Kearny girls, the No. 13 seed in the North 1, Group IV bracket, will take on No. 4 seed Paterson Kennedy, with tipoff slated for 4:30 p.m.
Immediately following, it will be the Kearny boys making their first NJSIAA state playoff appearance in six years, taking on Paterson Kennedy at 7 p.m. The Kardinals, who improved to 12-12 overall with a win over Ferris last weekend, earned the No. 14 seed in the bracket.
Qualifying for the state playoffs is a major achievement for second-year head coach Bob McDonnell and the Kardinals.
“Without a doubt, it was one of our main goals coming into the season,” McDonnell said. “So it’s definitely an achievement. It’s been a little frustrating at times, but it’s all been amazing, since all five guys haven’t put it together at once all season. But it’s still a great feeling to see the development of the kids.They want to play. They come in for shootaround practices early and put in the extra effort to get ready for games. Making the state playoffs is a good reward for the kids.”
Gus Chemin had 17 points in the Kardinals’ 62-46 win over Ferris. The Kardinals also enjoyed a win over Memorial in the opening round of the Hudson County Tournament, before falling to Bayonne, 89- 84, in overtime.
Joseph Baez had 19 points, Chemin added 16, Georgie Smyth and Gralen Vereen each had 14 points and Zach Latka added 13 points and eight rebounds in the loss to Bayonne. Latka had 25 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Memorial.
Two other local schools saw both their boys’ and girls’ basketball teams secure state playoff berths.
North Arlington’s boys grabbed the No. 7 seed in North Jersey Section 2, Group I. The Vikings will face American History on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in North Arlington. The NA girls are on the road at New Providence Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Vikings received the No. 13 seed in that bracket.
And the Bloomfield boys and girls are both headed to the postseason.
The Bloomfield boys took the No. 4 seed in North Jersey Section 1, Group IV. The Bengals will play host to Passaic County Tech Monday at 7 p.m. The Bloomfield girls are on the road facing Livingston Monday at 5 p.m. The Bengals are the No. 9 seed in the girls’ bracket.
The only other local team to get a home game is the Harrison girls. The Blue Tide drew the No. 8 seed in North Jersey Section 2, Group I and will face Caldwell Monday night at 7 p.m.
The Nutley girls will travel all the way to West Morris for a first round game in North Jersey Section 2, Group III Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Maroon Raiders are the No. 13 seed in that bracket.
The Lyndhurst girls are also the No. 13 seed in the North Jersey Section 2, Group I bracket. The Golden Bears travel to Morris County to take on Hanover Park Monday at 7 p.m.