SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — Tuesday will be a pretty special night for Scotch Plains-Fanwood boys’ basketball, as if the scheduled game isn’t important enough.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School will honor the tenth anniversary of its 2007-08 State Championship team with a pregame ceremony prior to the night’s enormous and highly anticipated clash with divisional rival Rahway (17-1).
Members of the legendary team along with then head coach Dan Doherty will be introduced to the crowd, which is anticipated to near a sellout. The ceremony is slated to take place at approximately 7:00 p.m., with the game starting a bit after that.
The game itself will be the Raiders’ most critical of the season to date. First place in the Union County Conference Valley Division is on the line, as the Raiders (15-3) look to avenge a heartbreaking January 16 loss to Rahway — a team that not even the ‘08 Raiders could get the best of.
The 2007-08 Raiders captured the first and only boys’ basketball State Championship in school history while compiling a 23-8 record. Led by star guard Bryan Dougher, who played at Stony Brook and is now Rutgers’ director of mens’ basketball operations, the Raiders defeated Timber Creek in the NJSIAA Group 3 state final at Rutgers on March 9 to claim the title. Dougher dropped 35 points as the Raiders recovered from a halftime deficit at The RAC that night.
Dougher drained over 150 points during the postseason alone and the Raiders put on a memorable run through March. As a third seed in the North 2, Group 3 state tournament, the Raiders downed Colonia by 20 points on March 4, 2008, to capture the school’s second and most recent sectional title. Two days later, they defeated Wayne Valley in the Group 3 semifinal to punch a ticket to Rutgers.
The Raiders' magical run ended against Immaculata in the school's only Tournament of Champions appearance, but by no means did that bring down the team's legend. At the conclusion of the season, the Raiders were ranked No. 18 in the state of New Jersey by NJ.com. That list that included some of the greatest high school basketball teams of all time, such as St. Anthony and St. Patrick.
Though Dougher — the Raiders’ all-time scoring leader (1,635 career points) — was the star, SPF thrived on stellar depth and athleticism to power thorough the state tournament and unrelenting Watchung Conference regular season schedule.
Another team like the 2007-08 one will be hard to come by, but this year’s squad has a chance to accomplish some very similar things. As the No. 2 seed in the upcoming powerhouse North 2, Group 4 state sectional tournament, the Raiders have surged to a 15-3 record against strong competition. A win against Rahway on Tuesday would give SPF a legitimate shot at the school’s first ever boys’ basketball conference championship.
Playing in front of heroes of 2008 will surely add motivation for this year's Raider squad.
Members of the 2007-08 Group 3 State Champion team:
- Bryan Dougher
- Lordley Okarter
- Dan DeCataldo
- Kevin Maroney
- Greg Zabel
- Reggie Solomon
- Melvin Hanciles
- Marcus Green
- Rob Zekunde
- Ishmil Raymond
- Brandon Boyd
- Justin Wheeler
- Keith Bronokowski
Head Coach: Dan Doherty
Assistants: Ben Martinez, Shawn Johnson (still active), Corey Jones