Kearny boys’ basketball team looks for improvement

Photo by Jim Hague/ Kearny head boys’ basketball coach Bill Mullins gives his team instructions during the Kardinals’ loss to Bergen Tech in the Kearny Holiday Tournament last week.


By Jim Hague

The Kearny High School boys’ basketball team is definitely a work in progress.
“They’re definitely going to get better, no doubt about it,” said Kearny head coach Bill Mullins, who is in his second year of his second tenure of leading the Kardinals. “We can’t even begin to compare ourselves to other teams. We still haven’t found our regular rotation. We’re still battling for a lot of our positions. We’re worrying about who to play. It hasn’t been easy. It’s very difficult, because every year, we basically start from scratch. Every year, we’re teaching them new stuff because we are very inexperienced.”
The Kardinals lost their first four games of the season, before finally defeating neighboring rival Harrison, 63-45, in the consolation round of the Kearny Holiday Tournament Thursday afternoon.
“We have a very small team,” Mullins said. “We have to be the smallest team in Hudson County. But we’ve been very competitive so far. We come to battle every single game. If any team we play thinks we’re going to be easy to face, then they’re in trouble, because we’re not going to back off. We’re going to keep on battling back. We’ve already had games this season where we could have gone the other way, where we could have easily lost. But we battle every single game, even against teams that are bigger and stronger than we are.”

Photo by Jim Hague/ The hopes of the Kearny boys’ basketballs season ride with key players Evan Piwowarski (left) and Dylan Hoch (right).

Leading the way for the Kardinals has been 6-foot-2 senior forward Evan Piwowarski, who scored a game-high 16 points in the win over Harrison.
“He just needs to be more consistent,” Mullins said of Piwowarski, who has the ability to be the Kardinals’ leading scorer this season. “For him to be considered a solid player, he needs to do it every single game. But he’s a good shooter and should be our leading scorer if he’s able to become more consistent.”
The other top Kardinal player is junior Dylan Hoch, who is also a solid contributor. The 5-foot-11 Hoch is what Mullins calls “our best all-around player.”
“He can bring the ball up and breaks the press,” Mullins said. “He can score off the press. He really can do a little bit of everything.”
Senior point guard Thiago Cruz is back for his third varsity season with the Kardinals. The 5-foot-7 Cruz brings a ton of energy to the Kardinals’ rotation.
Senior Zachary Negron is another 5-foot-7 guard who collected a lot of time off the Kardinals’ bench last year.
Junior Christian Kot is another undersized guard. At 5-foot-7, Kot is a player who has to play bigger than his size.
Junior Aneudi Martinez is a 5-foot-11 center who is a strong physical presence.
“He’s like a power forward who can do a lot of different things for us,” Mullins said. “We use him all over the floor.”
Junior Eric Silva is a 5-foot-10 guard who also serves a host of responsibilities. Fellow junior John Horvath is a 6-foot-2 forward who has spent a lot of time over the summer working on his game, trying to become a more consistent player.
Sophomore Wellington DaSilva is a 5-foot-11 guard who has a lot of speed and can cause a lot of different problems defensively.
“I like his quickness,” Mullins said.
Sophomore Joe Rodriguez is the team’s premier post presence. The 6-foot-3 Rodriguez can rebound and cause problems down low.
Hassan Muwakkil is a 5-10 sophomore guard, as is Edison Camacho, who had some quality moments during the win over Harrison.
The Kardinals also receive quality time from seniors like Marc Rezabola, a forward, Eric Cruz, an undersized center and guard Sammy Mejia, off the bench.
Mullins knows that the Kardinals will have to improve as the season progresses. It will help having a veteran coach like Artie Rubin on the Kardinals’ bench. Rubin was a highly successful coach at Snyder in Jersey City, guiding his team to the overall Group III state championship.
“I was looking for a good assistant coach and Artie and I have been good friends for a long time,” Mullins said. “He’s an experienced guy and knows a lot about basketball. When he said that he would join us, it’s a huge boost bringing his experience. His resume and record speaks for itself.”
Mullins knows that the Kardinals will be in tough waters for the entire season.
“It’s going to be tough, because Hudson County basketball is very good,” Mullins said. “We’re going to see so many good teams. Our biggest problem right now is putting the ball in the basket. We have to do a better job of that as we move on.”
The Kardinals need to score to become competitive and that’s the goal that the Kardinals will face for the rest of the season.

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