HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The 2021 high school basketball season will certainly unfold differently than Hasbrouck Heights head coach Mike Cebula would have envisioned 12 months ago. After what looked to set up to be a potential state champion team, the loss of two transfers has changed outside expectations. Cebula isn’t worried about outside expectations.
“What we lack in size, we make up for in heart and hustle,” said Cebul. “We’ve had a great first week. I absolutely love this team, how they care about each other, and represent Hasbrouck Heights in such a positive way. “
There is still plenty of talent in the gym, led by three-year starter in point guard Steven Faussette. Faussette had a dominant junior year in 2019-20. His job was to set up everyone else, which he did, averaging 5.9 assists per game while scoring 12.2 points. He will be asked to score more in 2021, which he showed he was more than capable of.
A First Team NJIC All Meadowlands selection in 2019-20, he was a big reason why the Aviators went 20-8 last year.
Cebula is confident Faussette is up to the challenge.
“Steve’s really emerged as the vocal leader of this group as well, and continues to make everyone around him better every day,“ Cebula stated. “He’s made plays throughout the first week where we're all scratching our heads asking how he just did that....but at the end of the day, that’s just Steve. He’s a gamer.”
He will likely be joined by seniors Brandon Govea, Dan Viola, and Rocco Minichiello. Cebula spoke about each of them
“(Brandon) had his junior season cut short by an injury, and he was forced to watch from the sidelines, He returns to shore up the backcourt along with Faussette and is expected to have a big role.”
"Dan Viola really came into his own the second half of last season, and is one of the toughest kids we have," said Cebula. 'We know he’s going to bring it every night.'
"Rocco Minichiello is one of the best athletes on the team, and is going to make a big difference for us," he said. "He’s 5’10 but plays like he’s 6’6 and has a huge heart.“
Junior Jake Diaz has earned a spot in the starting lineup the first week.
“Jake has had a tremendous first week, and earned a starting spot,” Cebula stated. ”He is relentless on defense, and makes plays all over the floor.”
Cebula is excited about how senior Cecero Aniciente has played so far.
“Cicero has been steadily improving in practice all week and has carved out a nice role for our squad,” Cebula stated. “He’s been solid in the backcourt, and needs to continue building on his positive start to the season.”
Cebula is looking to sophomore AJ Peterson and junior Evan Wenckus to stretch the floor, with their shooting range. Sophomore Caden DeRosa will provide depth.
The backcourt will be the strength of the Aviators team
Up front, there are handful of players looking to provide the size and rebounding to force their way on the court in seniors Nick Cuccio and Antonio DaSilva, junior Justin Wexler and sophomores Tristan Govea and Michael Canavatchel.
Cebula will also be faced with a new divisional alignment, as the NJIC went to six six-team divisions for the season as part of its COVID protocols. Out are North Arlington, Weehawken, Saddle Brook. In is Bergen Charter.
|Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021||4:00PM||Wallington||Wallington High School|
|Friday, Jan 29, 2021||7:00PM||Becton||Becton Regional High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021||6:00PM||Saint Mary's||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Friday, Feb 5, 2021||6:00PM||Wood-Ridge||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021||4:00PM||Palisades Park Jr./Sr. High School||Palisades Park High School|
|Friday, Feb 12, 2021||4:00PM||Bergen Charter||Bergen Charter School|
|Monday, Feb 15, 2021||7:00PM||Weehawken||Weehawken High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021||6:00PM||Wallington||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Friday, Feb 19, 2021||6:00PM||Becton||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021||7:00PM||Saint Mary's||Saint Mary High School|
|Friday, Feb 26, 2021||7:00PM||Wood-Ridge||Wood-Ridge High School|
|Monday, Mar 1, 2021||6:00PM||Bergen Charter||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Wednesday, Mar 3, 2021||6:00PM||New Milford||Hasbrouck Heights High School|