Boys basketball team looks to shine during an unprecedented season

by James Stewart, Sports Beat Manager

Despite an early shutdown and COVID-19 concerns, the Glen Rock High School Boys’ basketball team tipped off their season Friday, Jan. 5th against the Cardinals of Pompton Lakes.

The Panthers are coming off a 10-15 campaign in the 2019-2020 which was good for a sixth place finish in the NJIC Colonial division.

In spite of the losing record, the Panthers qualified for the Group 2 state tournament, but fell to a Pascack Hills team in the first round that did not lose until the championship game.

This season looks very promising for an experienced Panthers team led by seven seniors headlined by forward Will McLoughlin who is committed to play in college at The University of Scranton.

Other returning weapons for the reloaded Panthers team included forwards Michael Silver and Andy Martin, as well as senior guards Connor Cunningham and Ryan Baumbach, all of whom played meaningful minutes throughout last season.

Juniors Kenneth Vergel de Dios, Colin Boisits, and Will Consoli also hope to add depth to the Panther bench.

The Panthers are out to a quick 4-2 start, with the only blemishes on their record being a 48-47 loss to Garfield on Wednesday, Jan. 10, and this past Monday, a 67-61 loss to Mahwah. Both games were non-conference matchups.

The Panthers remained a perfect 3-0 in the NJIC thanks to a 36-19 victory over the rival Hawthorne Bears on Friday, Jan. 12. The Panthers picked up their other victories against conference opponents, Pompton Lakes, and Butler, and non-conference foe Verona.

Despite a great start to the season, the Panthers have had to deal with many obstacles. From a quarantine period before competition began wearing masks at practice and on the bench, and not having your friends and family attending your games, this experienced Panthers squad has dealt with a lot during this shortened season.

“During our quarantine, we had an app that gave us drills we could perform, and coach could look over them, and we would have zooms once or twice a week,” said senior Michael Silver. “It was nice to catch up with Coach and my friends and teammates.” 

Another clear hurdle that the Panthers had to overcome was the fact that friends and families of the athletes would not be able to attend both home and away games.

“There are for sure pros and cons of not having fans at our games. The pressure on us is definitely alleviated, but not seeing your friends and family at your games definitely makes it hard to get motivated, but the team has brought a lot of energy to all our games this year,” said Silver.

Although the Panthers lacked in-person attendance for their first several games, starting on Feb. 17, two parents of each player will be allowed to attend Panther home games.

For those who are not allowed to attend the games in person, all of the Panthers home games will be streamed live on YouTube on the Glen Rock Athletics page.

Information for away games will be given to players and parents a few days prior to each away game. With an ever changing schedule due to COVID circumstances, several tournaments have been cancelled this year, but players across the state are just happy to be on the court.

“There is no jamboree (counties), no state tournament, but I am thankful to be out there, and I want to play as hard as possible, leave it all out on the court, and enjoy myself. For the team, have fun together, be good teammates, and win as many games as possible,” mentioned Silver.

This past Wednesday, Silver and the rest of the seniors were honored during Senior Night, and the Panthers picked up a blowout victory over Eastern Christian 57-26.

The Panthers gained their sixth win of the season in a tight 47-45 battle against Park Ridge on Saturday.

Glen Rock returns to action tomorrow afternoon at 4 P.M. at home versus the Waldwick Warriors. The game will be streamed on YouTube under Glen Rock Athletics.