By Andy Loigu
Blue Streaks Nation had much to celebrate when Warren Hills presented awards to its winter sports athletes on March 21.
The girls bowling team finished third in the state in the final rankings, for all groups.
The wrestling team gained its 700th all-time victory, dating back to the program’s inception under John Goles in 1936.
For the first time ever, Warren Hills won a sectional championship in boys basketball on March 8. The third seeded Blue Streaks had to win back-to-back road games against the top two seeds in North 2 Group 3 to get it done.
In the championship game at Chatham (who finished their season 28-2) Warren Hills claimed the title in two overtimes by a 52-46 final score. Warren Hills trailed 42-37 in the first overtime, but a three-point bomb by Buster Bamford and a driving layup by Johnny Bamford tied the score and forced a second overtime.
Anthony Veneziano went over the 1,000 career points milestone in the game. “His 1,000th point ignited our comeback,” declared the Streaks’ head coach Stan Kubbishun. Johnny Bamford scored a game-high 20 points.
Both Veneziano (1,014) and Johnny Bamford (1,119) were presented basketballs commemorating their career scoring totals.
“It was the first time since 1994 Warren Hills has had a 1,000-point scorer, and we had two of them, a rarity in high school basketball,” Kubbishun said in honoring them as the team’s Co-Most Valuable Player award winners. Both were First Team All-Skyland Conference Raritan Division honorees. Bamford led the squad with a 14.5 points per game scoring average and Veneziano, also a prolific rebounder, averaged 13.8 points per game.
To get to the section final, underdog Warren Hills won 48-40 at second seeded Somerville on March 4. The Streaks lost to ‘The Ville’ twice during the regular season, but scored the first 10 points as the third time was the charm. “The guys responded to a very hostile environment, and we had a really nice passing game,” Kubbishun remarked. “Also, everyone in the game did their jobs defensively.”
“With the noise from the big crowd of Washington people cheering us on, we had more heart and energy when it was do or die,” he added.
“Anthony did it inside and outside, got the big rebounds and was a great leader when we needed somebody to step up,” he said.
The coach also was proud of his team’s effort in a game they lost. “We lost a great game against Pope John in the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament this year,” he said. “We gave them their closest game against a public school all season and defensively we held them to their lowest points total of the season.”
Kubbishun now has the distinction of coaching Warren Hills to championships in both girls basketball (in 1997) and boys basketball.
Streaks MVP Awards Round Out Winning Seasons
In winning their second straight sectional title in girls bowling, Abby Laws of Warren Hills rolled both the high-series (702) and high game (267). She was the first girls’ bowler from Warren Hills to be named All-State First-Team. She shared team MVP honors with Jenna Henderson.
Ryan Stephany led the boys to a 10-1 record and conference title and was named Third Team All-State. Justin Walker (high series at the Skylands Championships), Alex Cole, and MVP winner Eric Lawson (207 average) were also recognized by coach Greg Rottengen.
Wrestling coach Jarrett Hosbach presented his team’s MVP award to Matt Valli who was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament. Valli was undefeated in the regular season, but lost the District I championship to Joe Renne of Hackettstown at 126 pounds. Cody Harrison and Jarod Ostir were recognized for being District I champions and state qualifiers.
Swimming coach Dave Rader honored Hunter Page as the MVP of his 7-1 team which lost the last meet of the season to Bernards. A four-year varsity swimmer, Page holds three school records in individual events and led the team with 166 points in meets.
Girls basketball coach Meghan McGeehan gained her 100th career win with Warren Hills this season. Rylie Howey was presented the team’s MVP award. “She led the team in rebounds, charges taken, the intangibles on defense,” her appreciative coach said.
“We played a rough schedule, with five teams on our schedule going a long way in the state tournament, and lost eight games by less than eight points, but we were on the cusp all year,” she said.
Hackettstown post-season hoops honors
The Hackettstown Tigers reached the semifinal in North 2 Group 2 and finished a fine boys basketball season with a 20-8 record. They were the regular season champions of the Northwest Jersey Conference Freedom Division.
Senior James Britt and junior Tyler Akers made first team on the All-Freedom Division team, by selection of the coaches.
Junior Matt Arcona and sophomore Jelani Awai were chosen to the second team.
Honorable mention was awarded to sophomore Ed O’Melia.
Junior point guard Amber Sagan was selected to the girls’ first team in the Freedom Division.
Sophomore Caitlyn Nichols (second team) and junior Stephanie Jaxheimer (honorable mention) also were recognized.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.