PATERSON NJ - In a moving ceremony of tribute, players, coaches, teachers, administrators, and fans honored the leading scorer in Passaic County high school basketball history, Nicole Louden. Before the opening tip of the game against visiting Passaic, Louden and family members, including her grandmother, mother, brother, and niece strode to half court.
Paterson Superintendent Eileen Shafer introduced Louden as a role model of excellence in both athletics and academics.
“Nicole graduated from Kennedy and went on to play in college,” Shafer told the crowd. “She had two majors, one in psychology and one in physical education. Nicole then went on to earn a masters’ degree in business from Cornell University. It all started right here at John F. Kennedy. Nicole is proof positive that hard work can make dreams come true.”
After playing for four years at Division I powerhouse Auburn University, Louden took her talents overseas and played professionally in Israel and the Czech Republic. Her high school record of 2,928 career points still stands as #1 in the county.
As her family stood behind her, Louden took the microphone and expressed gratitude for those who have supported her over the years.
“I want to thank my family, my coaches, and everyone who made sure that I was prepared in every way, in both academics and athletics,” Louden stated. “It’s been a great basketball journey.”
At the conclusion of Louden’s speech, each varsity team member presented their hero with a beautiful rose. A large, glass encased plaque with her high school jersey, #11, was awarded by JFK Athletic Director Scott Durham. The final touch was a large banner, honoring Louden’s career and scoring record, to be hung adjacent the rafters in Kennedy’s spacious gymnasium.
On hand was Louden’s high school varsity coach, Lou Bonora. When asked about Louden’s work ethic, Bonara was quick to answer. “I’ve never had another player like her,” Bonara replied.
Louden led the Lady Knights to the 2001 county and state championships. She averaged 34.2 points per game her senior season.
“I was able to coach Nicole her senior year,” Bonora continued.
“We beat Bayonne in the state championship game. In the last quarter, Nicole scored 18 points and we won by three.”
Bonora recounted a game against Ridgewood when the Knights prevailed over the Maroons by a score of 55-50. Louden scored 50 points in the contest. In a game against Clifton, Louden scored 37 points to notch, exactly, 2,000 career points, Bonara recalled.
Attending the contest was former Eastside High School football star, Zattiti Moody.
“I saw Nicole play in high school,” the current Paterson high school principal said. “She played in an era when there were some excellent teams. She was a great player and came from a great family."
Everywhere she goes, she represents Paterson as a class act.”
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