As the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc on the scholastic sports schedule, Lyndhurst High School’s talented senior point guard Carley Martin of the girls’ basketball team was concerned about her future.
“The year 2020 was really hard on all of us,” Martin said. “There were so many unknowns. We didn’t know if we would have a basketball season.”
With no access to the school for any workouts, Martin was fortunate to have a full-size court in her backyard, complete with a 3-point circle and proper dimensions, courtesy of her father, Chuck, the former head boys’ basketball coach at Lyndhurst.
“Thank God I have a court in my yard,” Martin said. “That’s where I did my workouts. It’s where me and my Dad played throughout the years.”
But Carley and her father had an arrangement about basketball.
“He was my coach from third through eighth grade,” Martin said of her accomplished father. “He’s the one who introduced me to the game and helped me fall in love with the game. But once I got to high school, it was strictly father/daughter. We didn’t bring basketball into the house.”
So with no organized basketball, no AAU schedule and now the threat of no high school season looming, Martin was indeed worried.
“All in all, I had to take a step back,” Martin said. “I definitely had a lot of mixed emotions. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to have Lyndhurst across my chest anymore. It’s what my Dad stood for. I loved hearing my name called with the starting lineup. I was so afraid it wasn’t going to happen.”
But then, almost miraculously, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The NJSIAA determined that there would be a basketball season, albeit a truncated 15-game slate with no state playoffs.
At the very least, it was something. Martin was going to get the chance to go out with a blaze of glory, along with her long-time friends and teammates Gianna Alberti and Alexa Borino.
“They are my best friends,” Martin said. “We definitely wanted to leave it all out there. We wanted to get the chance to play one last time. So when we heard we were playing, we were so ecstatic and so happy. I got all my sneakers and jerseys out of the closet. I was so excited.”
So was Lyndhurst head girls’ basketball coach Perrin Mosca, who knew that he could count on Martin to provide a little bit of everything to the Golden Bears’ cause.
“We were basically going to run everything through Carley,” Mosca said. “We joke now and call her James Harden, because she does a little bit of shooting, getting to the lane, getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line. She’s taken it upon herself to take charge out there.”
Martin and her close friends decided that they had to enjoy every game like it was their last one.
“At any time, it could be ended,” Martin said. “So I said, ‘Let’s play for each other. Let’s play like it could be our last game, like it could be the last time with Lyndhurst across my chest.’”
It was the second time in a matter of minutes that Martin mentioned Lyndhurst being across her chest.
“It really means everything to me,” Martin said.
Last week, Martin performed like her career was coming to an end. She scored a career-high 30 points in a win over Elmwood Park, added 23 in a win over neighboring rival Rutherford and had 15 points in a hard-fought six-point setback to Wayne Hills in an independent game.
For her efforts, Martin has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. She is the first honoree of the winter scholastic sports season. The weekly feature culminates in the presentation of The Observer Male and Female Athletes of the Year sometime in July.
Martin said that she had no idea she was approaching her career best in the win over Elmwood Park.
“Honestly, I don’t count points while I’m playing,” Martin said. “But Coach (Rich) Tuero (who is also the respected and honored football coach at the school) told me, ‘Hey Martin, you just dropped 30.’ I knew I had to bounce back in that game, because I didn’t play well against Weehawken in the first game. So going into the game, I had a little chip on my shoulder.”
Mosca said that Martin is a positive role model to her younger teammates.
“They all love her,” Mosca said. “She’s a good role model to the underclass girls. She’s always having a good time. She’s just a good kid overall.”
Mosca said that she’s a credit to her father, who obviously taught her well.
“She knows the game,” Mosca said. “You can see that. There are things you just don’t have to tell Carley that you have to tell others.”
Martin has already given a verbal commitment to Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania to play basketball there next season.
“It’s one of the best (NCAA) Division III programs in the country,” Martin said. “The coaching staff there is tremendous. When I went there for a visit, I felt like I was home. It had everything I wanted. The campus is beautiful.”
Martin plans on majoring in government law and national security, hopefully going into the field of National Homeland Security in behavior analysis.
Mosca knows he’s going to miss his little James Harden when she heads off to Dallas.
“It’s going to be tough without her,” Mosca said. “We’re definitely going to miss her. She’s been there every game for four years. She takes care of herself and she’s always ready to go.”
Martin has to be ready. She’s only 187 points away from the magical 1,000-point milestone. There’s something that wouldn’t have happened with no season.
“I’m hoping to get to that,” Martin said.
With the interview ending, it was learned that Martin’s maternal grandfather Rich Ferruggia had passed away that day.
“I plan on playing for him every game for the rest of the season,” said Martin, who was very close to her grandfather. “I still feel like I have more in my tank.”
On another note, in the January 27 editions of the Observer, there was an article written about the Lyndhurst girls’ basketball team that mentioned Gianna Alberti as being a standout soccer player. That was an error. Alberti is an excellent softball player who looks forward to playing softball for the Golden Bears later this year. The Observer apologizes for the error.
Lyndhurst senior guard Carley Martin. Photo by Jim Hague
Lyndhurst senior guard Carley Martin signs her commitment papers to play basketball at Misericordia University next fall. Photo courtesy of Carley Martin
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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.”