JERSEY CITY, NJ - The trip through Jersey City brings you through several sections and neighborhoods. Finally, the destination in the Hamilton Park area. The location is the St. Anthony home court, not far removed from the high school.
‘Removed’ is appropriate here. For years, it has been well-documented: The basketball powerhouse has thrived despite not having a home court. A charter school, with a relatively new spacious gym, is the official Friar home court.
On this afternoon, a freshman basketball officiating assignment is in order. Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley has his varsity team on the road to play at Bergen Catholic, while the freshmen host Elizabeth High School. Whenever you work a St. Anthony assignment, even freshmen or JV, you cannot help think of the legacy and outstanding achievements of his four-plus decades at the school. The banners inside the gym are reminders. They simply reinforce the excellence throughout the years that so many.
The St. Anthony freshmen run the floor very well in transition. Half court sets mirror those run by the varsity: Good ball movement, cutters off the high post, ball reversals. The young Friar edition gets out early and builds a 20-point lead by the half. Through it, coach Julius David is more concerned with effort, positive body language and execution. All three areas are emphasized.
Elizabeth later goes on a run to cut the deficit to thirteen. St. Anthony regroups, pushes the lead back to 20, and is on their way. The Friars post an 88-54 victory over an Elizabeth team, and by objective analysis, that is a good freshmen squad.
David has been the freshman coach here for a few years. The Hurley effect is evident as he speaks. After it was mentioned how his team beat Elizabeth in transition, he added, “they beat us down the floor more than I accept.” He would note the improvements his team needs, especially in the area of defensive consistency. Not content to sit on the laurels of a 34-point win, like Coach Hurley, he is in a constant teaching and coaching mode. Even like Coach Hurley, who has his wife Chris keep the book, Julius has his wife do the same for the freshmen.
Visit St. Anthony and you cannot miss the Hurley effect. And it transcends wins and losses.
The Hamilton Park outdoor courts near St. Anthony:
Pregame warmups before the freshman game:
The banner says it all:
A tribute to the legend, and a reminder to all who take this court:
The scoreboard entering the fourth quarter:
The St. Anthony freshman team in a postgame victory pose:
The illuminated Jersey City skyline:
A view of the main entrance to St. Anthony High School: