BLOOMFIELD, NJ--After a week and a half of spirited practices, the Bloomfield High boys' basketball team played its first and lone scrimmage leading up to the 2021 season opener on Jan. 26, at home, against Montclair. 

Head coach Mike Passero saw some good things in his team's scrimmage against West Orange, on Jan. 20, which was played in Bloomfield. Generally, a varsity basketball team will get three to four scrimmages before starting a season. But this year, the schedule has been trimmed down to just one scrimmage, for all teams in the state, along with 15 regular season games.

"We all know it's a different kind of year," said Passero, who is beginning his third year at the helm after a decade as an assistant at BHS to Pat Brunner. "We had some good practices leading up to today's scrimmage. We're still getting our legs under us, and that was evident in that we missed a lot of open shots today. But I know that will come with more time."

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Passaero admitted practices aren't what they usually are at the start of a season.

"We didn't have the chance to spend time in the weight room," the coach said. "We're trying to simulate games in practice, to get our conditioning level up. It's coming along. I thought we executed well against West Orange, in that we had those open shots. Both teams ran the floor well and you can tell at the end we were a little tired. But that's something we'll continue to work on."

Passero has been pleased with his team's effort in practice.

"They're a real good group, both on and off the floor," the coach said. "Our captains, Vernon Lee, Andre Dean and Chino Anyanwu are doing an excellent job in their roles as leaders. I'm also proud of this team because they're performing well academically."

The Bengals will open the season against a natural rival in Montclair on Jan. 26. Two days later, Millburn visits Bloomfield.

"Not having fans at the games this year will make it different," the coach said. "That's why opening against Montclair should provide an exciting backdrop. They have an excellent team and playing Montclair is always special for us."

Passero also noted that there was a good turnout for practice this season. The Bengals are also using extra precautions in practice, wiping down the basketballs and keeping the doors open, for better ventilation.

"On the court, we have to address our transition defense and court awareness," said Passero.