The Blue Tide of Harrison High School proved to be one of the biggest surprises in local boys’ basketball last year, winning 17 games and finishing second in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference-Liberty Division standings.
Now, second-year head coach Bill Mullins is hoping for more of the same. Although the Blue Tide lost leading scorer Johnathan Leiras to transfer (the Patrick School), taking his 20.9 point per game average with him, Mullins thinks that he has the makings of a solid squad this season.
“A lot of these kids are starting from scratch,” Mullins said. “They don’t have much experience. So it’s going to take some patience and some time. We lost a couple of good players, but we’re keeping things positive. We’re going to take this one step at a time. Johnathan was a very good player for us, but he made the decision to leave. We wish him luck.”
One thing that will remain the same with Mullins’ Blue Tide will be the pace of play.
“We still like to play up tempo,” Mullins said. “I’m more comfortable with that. I like coaching that way. We have to make a few adjustments, like working on ball handling. But we’re keeping it simple on offense.”
The Blue Tide welcomes back senior guard Tim Danielian, who averaged almost 19 points per game last season.
“He’s the best leaper I’ve ever coached,” Mullins said of the 6-foot-2 Danielian. “He can really jump. I’ve never had a jumper like this kid. He has nice, terrific form on his shot. He just needs to be a little more aggressive. But he’s the main guy we needed to put the ball in the basket.”
Another key returnee is 6-foot sophomore guard Mateo DeSosa, the quarterback on the Blue Tide football team in the fall.
“He has terrific quickness,” Mullins said of DeSosa, who will play point guard. “I hope he’s able to do the job for us like he did in football. He’s an athlete. He has quick feet and moves those feet well. His basketball skills could be very good, but I think he’s good in any sport.”
DeSosa averaged close to eight points per game last season.
Sophomore Erik Feliz is a 6-foot-2 forward.
“He can play under the basket, but can also pop out and hit a shot,” Mullins said. “He’s very flexible. He can score for us. We want him to do a little bit of everything.”
Charles Confessore is a 6-foot-9 senior center.
“He’s been a bit of a project, but he’s made a lot of strides,” Mullins said. “He’s improving every day. We need him to become a factor this season. He can get rebounds. He can play defense. He makes little shots from 10 feet and in. He’s a big body down low and takes up space. We need him to be a player this year.”
Senior Breydin DeJesus is a 5-foot-11 shooting guard.
“He has some athleticism,” Mullins said. “We need him to develop a little consistency in his game.”
Junior Kevin Molina is a 6-foot-1 forward.
“He’s been playing in the post for us,” Mullins said. “He has some skill and has become a big help to us.”
Senior Jamiere Mitchell is a 5-foot-10 guard who can play both guard positions.
“We want him to play under control,” Mullins said. “He’s so fast and plays fast. We need to control him and his ball handling. He’s so quick that he’s going to get steals on defense.”
Sophomore Ray Ugaz is a 5-foot-7 guard who can also play both guard slots.
“He’s a fast kid, a quick kid,” Mullins said. “He’s a good listener. He does exactly what we tell him to do.”
Senior Saul Santana has joined the basketball team after playing football for the Blue Tide in the fall. Santana is a 6-foot-1 forward.
“He’s doing the little things, rebounding and setting screens,” Santana said. “He’s a very coachable kid.”
Sophomore Fred Maschitto is a 5-foot-10 guard.
“I think he has a very bright future,” Mullins said. “He does the things coaches want.”
The Blue Tide opens the new season Friday night against Bergen Charter in Hackensack. They will also play in the Garfield Christmas Tournament and will begin play there facing Bogota and legendary coach Jay Mahoney.
“We have to be patient,” Mullins said. “A lot of these kids have never been on a basketball team before. But they want to play. They want to be basketball players. We want to keep everything positive here.”
If the Blue Tide can surprise the way they did last year, then things will be more than just positive.
The Harrison High School boys’ basketball team will count on solid play from the team’s senior leaders. From left are Jamiere Mitchell, Tim Danielian, head coach Bill Mullins and Breydin DeJesus. Photo by Jim Hague