BLOOMFIELD, NJ-- With the state tournament approaching, the Bloomfield High boys basketball team looks poised to make a run.
"We're in a good frame of mind and excited for the tournament," said head coach Mike Passero. "We're an underdog for sure but its March and anything can happen."
Bloomfield (13-12) is seeded 13th and will play at fourth-seeded Hackensack in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 tournament on Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m.
A year ago, the Bengals finished 12-13 and bowed to Bergen Tech in the first round of the state tournament.
Bloomfield ended the 2019-'20 regular season in fine fashion, winning three of its final four games, including its last two.
On Feb 18, the Bengals defeated Newark Tech, 47-43, on the road to avenge a 32-point loss suffered at home on Jan. 9. Bloomfield's balanced attack was paced by Vernon Lee, who had a team-high 10 points, and Uma Kalu and Vinny Torrisi, who each had nine points.
After a loss at West Orange, Bloomfield won at Montclair Kimberley (57-50 on Feb. 25) and defeated Arts (65-38 on Feb. 27) at home.
Torrisi, a senior guard, had six 3-pointers in the victory over Arts and now has 133 for his career, braking the team record previously held by
Jameel Patterson, who graduated in 2013 with 131 3-pointers.
"Vinny is an exceptional shooter and we try to get him as many shots as we can," said Passero. "Credit to the team for really understanding his skill set and working hard to create opportunities for him."
Another catalyst this season has been Lee, a junior guard, who leads the Bengals in scoring with a an average just under 12 points per game.
"Vernon is playing really well and brings it every game," said Passero. "He is taking over the leadership role on the court and in the locker room as well."
Sophomores Isaiah Cortes (8.0 ppg.) and Kalu (5.3 ppg.) and juniors Andre Dean (6.5 ppg.) and Khanye Tucker (6.5 ppg.) are other offensive standouts for Bloomfield.
Bloomfield will be seeking its first sectional title since it went 24-6 and won the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 crown in 2017.
If they get by Hackensack (17-8), the Bengals will play the winner of the game between fifth-seeded Fair Lawn and 12th-seeded Mount Olive in the sectional quarterfinals on Thursday, March 5.
"Hackensack is a very good and talented team and we've been spending time on scouting them," said Passero. "We're spending time working on our individual skills and I have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff for keeping everyone positive and ready to go."
Bloomfield Girls Basketball
Bloomfield wrapped up its 2019-'20 season with 42-38 loss to Livingston on Thursday, Feb. 27 at home.
Unfortunately, the defeat was the 14th straight for the Lady Bengals (2-22).
Sophomore Aliyah Sanchez averaged 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds with fellow sophomores Chiara Hilario (5.5 ppg., 2.5 rpg.) and Lucy Heyman (4.5 ppg., 7.1 rpg.) were the top scoring threats for Bloomfield this winter.