ELIZABETH, NJ – The Elizabeth Boys Basketball team, ranked No. 9 in the state remained undefeated with an impressive win over the No. 8 ranked Patrick School yesterday at the 25th Annual Hoops to End Homelessness at the Thomas G. Dunn Sports Center.
According to a representative from the Elizabeth schools, it was a hotly contested battle that went back and forth for over three quarters, Elizabeth rode a late run to close out the victory. The team was led by Brenden Kelly, Jordan Price, and Abdul Shanunu who all scored in double-figures. Al-Fatir Connor, DJ Watkins, and Jesiah West each pitched in seven points in the winning effort.
With Elizabeth returning to prominence this year, the intense meeting of these two highly ranked teams at the Dunn Sports Center undoubtedly brought back memories for many from when these two rivals often met in a battle for city, county, and state supremacy. Elizabeth and the school formerly known as St. Patrick’s have faced off seven times in the Union County Tournament final, including four times in a five-year span from 1992-1997. Both teams have undergone significant changes since their last UCT final meeting in 2008-2009, but are both back in the top 10 in 2019 which includes four schools from Union County, arguably one of the best counties in the state.
Elizabeth, after starting off head coach Phil Colicchio’s return home with a victory against Rutgers Prep back in early December, rolled through the Governor’s Challenge holiday tournament in Maryland with victories over Wicomico (MD) and Gilman (MD) and has continued their winning run with two victories over former No. 15 Union Catholic up through their victory over The Patrick School.
At 16-0, the No. 9 team in New Jersey has found strength in a balanced attack with several players having made valuable contributions to victories. Elizabeth has also shown its mental fortitude and poise throughout its undefeated run, including overcoming double-digit deficits and multiple overtimes.
As the regular season winds down and the county and state tournaments draw closer, Elizabeth is anticipating more big games down the road.
“Our boys basketball team has played many impressive games so far this year, including this great win over The Patrick School,” stated Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. “There is definitely an air of excitement surrounding this team as they continue to win games and an eagerness to see how good this team can be.”
“The community was excited about Coach Colicchio’s return and a lot of expectations came with it, including the team being immediately ranked among the top 10 in the state by NJ.com despite having a losing season a year ago,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Stephanie Goncalves. “He and the Minutemen boys basketball team have continued to meet and exceed those expectations through hard work and determination and it seems like the sky is the limit for this team.”
The game between Elizabeth and The Patrick School was part of the two-game lineup for the annual Hoops to End Homelessness, organized by the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless and sponsored by ShopRite, Infineum, the YMCA, and the City of Elizabeth Housing Authority to raise funds to help the homeless. Among those in attendance to support the cause were Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, who tossed up the ceremonial opening tip, Elizabeth Board of Education President Goncalves, and Board members Maria Carvalho, Iliana Chevres, and Nathalie Hernandez.
“The Hoops to End Homelessness was again a great success,” said Carvalho. “The fans who attended to support the homeless in our community helped raise a lot of money and were treated to a great game of basketball while our Minutemen kept their undefeated streak intact with a wonderful team victory.”
For further information on Elizabeth Public Schools, please visit www.epsnj.org