Hamilton Park Summer League basketball thriving in return from pandemic. Playoffs around the corner

Hamilton Park Summer League basketball thriving in return from pandemic. Playoffs around the corner. Temperatures are rising on and off the court at Hamilton Park as the playoffs are quickly approaching for one of the state’s premier summer basketball leagues.

After missing out last summer due to the pandemic, all 22 teams in the Hamilton Park Summer League have been eager to make the most out of the summer.

“After the year off everybody is hungry to find a place to play during the summer,” said Pat Devaney Sr., the league’s director. “The teams are tired of staying home and not being able to get back on the court.”

Currently, St Patrick’s School, the reigning champion, is 18-0, with other top contenders Hudson Catholic and Gill St. Bernard’s not far behind. The regular season concludes Aug. 3.

“Park play is always a situation where kids can get a little tougher. Our goal is to just build chemistry with one another,” said Mergin Sina, the Gill St. Bernard’s head coach. “It’s trying to get to know your teammates a little better and while most of them play with each other during the year, it just helps to work on our connection with one another during the summer. It’s to keep us connected with one another on the court.”

Coaches and players are not the only ones excited to see the return of summer basketball in Jersey City.

Mike Naparlo, a ref of more than ten years in the Hamilton Park League, enjoys coming in the summer to refine his officiating skills.

“Its practice for the kids, it’s practice for us as refs. It gives the coaches the opportunity to work with new guys and get a feel for the team before the real season starts during the school year,” Naparlo said.

And the fans are just as excited. Jersey City resident Rich Schapiro lives across the street from Hamilton Park and can watch the basketball games from his apartment window.

“The league has been one of the highlights for us living in this neighborhood. It brings such positivity and excitement, it’s so well-organized, and it’s really such a special thing for people in the community to get behind,” said Schapiro, who brings his kids, brothers, parents and friends to watch the games.

“Especially during the pandemic, with it stretching as long as it did, when I would see the league set up for games and witness fans crowd the park, it really signaled the opening up of our neighborhood because it’s something that we are so used to.”

While Devaney was worried that the league may run into issues when it came to sponsors and funding due to the pandemic, the community has been there for the league, he said. According to Devaney, sponsors came through with uniforms, team gear and trophies.

“It’s unbelievable. Eighteen years ago, I would have never said ‘unbelievable,’ but the community has accepted and embraced us here,” said Devaney. “They see what our staff and the players have done, and they come out and support us as fans and they really love the basketball we put on.”

With the season entering its final stretch of the regular season, the teams are prepping for the opening round of the playoffs, which begin Aug. 4. All 22 high schools are eligible for the playoffs, which is done on a single elimination basis. The season will conclude on Aug. 11, when the two remaining teams will tip off at 7 p.m. in the championship game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *