North Arlington poised to make noise

The North Arlington High School boys’ basketball team won only four games during the COVID-19 shortened season a year ago, but those days are a distant memory in the rearview mirror.

So says head coach Marcello D’Andrea, who has had to endure his fair share of losing since taking over the Viking program four years ago. In D’Andrea’s eyes, enough is enough is enough.

“I think this is a team that is need of a little experience,” D’Andrea said. “We have a lot of young kids. We have a lot of underclassmen playing. But I like this group. I like the way they respond to me. I think you have to crawl before you can walk and we’re still crawling. But I know we can walk this season. I really think we’re ready to walk. We are making good strides. I know we can compete this year. The kids get after it. They get up and down the court. They’re willing to learn. I can’t ask for more than that as a coach.”

Leading the returnees is the team’s lone starter from a year ago, namely 6-foot senior swingman Oscar Torres. The multi-talented Torres averaged 13 points per game last year, earning All-NJIC honors.

“He has a good mid-range game,” D’Andrea said. “He’s quick and gets off the ball quick. We named him captain and he took to it, but he leads more by example. He leads more by his actions. Every year, he gets better and better and he’s made good strides from last year. I expect Oscar to lead us on and off the court.”

Another key performer is senior forward Will Hannon. The 6-foot-1 Hannon is a low post standout.

“He finishes well around the basket,” D’Andrea said. “He’s a strong kid who has a knack of finding the ball. He’s still learning the nuances of the game. He will continue to develop his game.”

Junior Daniel Janosek is a 5-foot-11 small forward/shooting guard.

“He does a little bit of everything for us,” D’Andrea said. “He shoots the ball well and has good court awareness. He even blocks shots here and there. He’s improved in all aspects of the game.”

The Vikings are utilizing two players at the point guard slot in 5-foot-8 sophomore Sean McGeehan and 5-foot-11 sophomore Ian Crudele.

“They are both all over the floor,” D’Andrea said. “TheThe y’re both integral parts of our team. They were both parts of the freshman team that went undefeated last year. They’re long and wide.”

Sophomore Kelvin Vasquez is a 5-foot-10 guard who has made a comeback this season. Vasquez missed all of last season due to COVID-19 symptoms, but he’s back and making his presence felt.

“He’s a slasher,” D’Andrea said of Vasquez. “He’s really quick. He’s strong to the basket and gets to the basket a lot. He’s like our engine who gets us going. He’s a scrappy player who goes and goes.”

Junior Bernie Pimentel is a 6-foot-1 forward who makes plays, especially on the defensive side.

“He’s very good defensively,” D’Andrea said. “He’s probably our best rebounder. He’s developed into a decent basketball player. He should help us on the glass.”

Junior Ken Jaramillo is a 5-foot-8 point guard who will get minutes in place of McGeehan and Crudele.

“He’s developed a good mid-range game,” D’Andrea said of Jaramillo. “He can play.”

Senior Shane Gilchrist is a 5-foot-9 guard.

“He can put it in the basket,” D’Andrea said. “He’s a smart kid. He knows the offense and knows what to do. I think we have seven or eight guys who will see vital minutes this season.”

The Vikings begin their season Friday night at home against Paterson Charter. They then tussle with league rival Hasbrouck Heights on Monday. The Vikings will welcome Bergen Tech, University Charter of Jersey City and local rival Belleville to the Bill Ferguson Memorial Christmas Tournament, the first tourney since the passing of the legendary coach and administrator earlier this year.

D’Andrea knows that better days are ahead.

“We’ve already seen some peaks and valleys,” D’Andrea said. “But I really think we’re on an upswing. I love the youth we have. I really think we have a chance to be pretty decent.”

That’s “coach speak” for “watch out!” The Vikings will be much improved this season.




The North Arlington High School boys’ basketball team looks to be vasty improved this season. Front row, from left, are Shane Gilchrist, David Martinez and Matt O’Mara. Back row, from left, are head coach Marcello D’ Andrea, Israel Alcantara, Will Hannon, Kelvin Vasquez and Oscar Torres. 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.”