Lyndhurst’s Downey enjoys early season explosion

Angela Downey always dreamed of the day when she would become the main scoring cog on the Lyndhurst High School girls’ basketball team.

“Because I am a senior, I knew I was going to have to pick up my game a little bit,” Downey said.

Downey averaged almost 11 points per game last season as a junior. As she approached her final go-round with the Golden Bears, Downey knew she had to do more.
So last summer, Downey concentrated on playing a lot of basketball. She was part of the North Jersey Celtics program that is run by the Lyndhurst father-son coaching duo of Chris and Nicole Skelly. Downey worked on her shooting range, hoisting up shot after shot on her own.

“I love basketball,” Downey said. “It’s a passion of mine. I really had to step it up this year. I really felt confident coming into this season.”

Perrin Mosca returned to take over the head coaching duties at Lyndhurst this season, after coaching for a few years at Hackensack. He remembered Downey as a young player, someone who attended his summer camp as a youngster.

But Mosca had no idea how good of a player Downey had become.

“I did watch some film of last year’s games,” Mosca said. “I knew that she was a good shooter. I had a pretty good idea of what she could do. She also played for us in the summer and fall leagues and did pretty well, so I could see that she could shoot.”

However, no one in their wildest dreams could have ever imagined what Downey had developed into. Almost overnight, Downey had become a premier sharpshooter, one of the best in the entire state.

In fact, five games into the new season, Downey leads the entire state of New Jersey in 3-pointers made. She calmly drained nine 3-pointers, setting a new school record, en route to 36 points in a win over New Milford. Downey began the season by connecting on seven 3-pointers and 27 points in a win over Ridgefield. She had five 3-pointers and 20 points in a loss to Tottenville of New York.

After five games, Downey is averaging 21.6 points, a full 10 point per game improvement over last season.

For her efforts, Downey has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. Downey is the first honoree of the winter scholastic sports season.

Downey is tallying all those points, even though she’s currently playing out of position. With starting point guard Carley Martin on the sidelines, nursing a serious ankle sprain, Downey has been moved to point guard in place of Martin.

“She’s had to bring the ball up,” Mosca said. “She will shoot it when she’s open. She has no problem at all shooting the ball. If she has a look that’s open, then it’s a good shot and it’s going down.”

Downey doesn’t mind playing point guard for the time being.

“I knew I was a good 3-point shooter,” Downey said. “I really felt like I was going to break the record (3-pointers in a game). I actually set out to break the record. I had seven in the first game and the record was eight, so I was really close. It was a little different being the point guard, but now, I’m really into it and I’m fine with it.”

But Downey would love to have her teammate Martin back.

“I’m better off the ball,” Downey said. “It’s going to be so much easier with Carley. Not just for me, but the whole team. We’ll have a better flow. Having a real point guard will really help us.”

“When Carley comes back, we’ll be even better,” Mosca said. “Playing the new position has been a little bit of a change for Angela, but she’s handled it well. She’s just waiting for Carley to come back, but she’s doing things she’s never done before.”
Yes, like setting new school records and leading the state in 3-pointers made.

“It’s all been pretty crazy,” Downey said. “I never would have thought this could happen. It’s literally insane.”

Downey said that she had a lofty goal in mind.

“My goal was to average 20 points per game,” Downey said. “I know that sounds crazy, but I had to set my goals higher to be able to reach them.”

Downey said that she has been contacted by practically all of the New Jersey Athletic Conference schools, such as Montclair State, New Jersey City University, Rutgers-Newark and Ramapo, but Downey hopes to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University in Florham Park.

“That’s my main choice,” Downey said.

Of course, if another school offers a full scholarship, then Downey will certainly listen.

For now, Downey will continue to light up Lyndhurst’s scoreboards with her long distance prowess.

“It’s totally been a lot of fun,” Downey said. “It’s good to see my hard work pay off.”

“She’s doing things like she’s totally done this all before,” Mosca said. “She’s pretty outgoing. I’ve had her before as a student and when the job as head coach opened up, I talked to her about basketball. It always felt like a good fit. She goes 100 percent all the time and works hard all the time. She gives up her body for the game of basketball. It’s amazing to watch. She can do it all.”




Lyndhurst senior guard Angela Downey. Photo by Jim Hague



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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”