Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

10 Things to Watch for at Bergen Jamboree

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

10 Things to Watch for at Bergen Jamboree

Article excerpt

The 60th Bergen Jamboree opens Saturday with seven first-round boys basketball games at multiple sites.

Here are 10 things to watch for in a 23-team Bergen County Coaches Association event that culminates with the final Feb. 26 at Fairleigh Dickinson's Rothman Center in Hackensack. (All records and stats through Wednesday's games):

1. The favorite

Ramapo (13-1) is the No. 1 seed for the first time in Jamboree history. The Green Raiders entered Wednesday night's selection and seeding meeting with a county-leading 12-game winning streak. An unrelenting, physical defense makes coach Joe Sandberg's team the ever-so-slight favorite.

2. The defending champ

With so many new faces, No. 5 Bergen Catholic (11-3) has looked magnificent at times and ordinary at others. A 61-52 victory last week over No. 2 Don Bosco highlights the potential. The Crusaders have size, depth and feature junior guards Taj Benning (17.8 ppg) and Gabriele Stefanini (15.8 ppg).

3. Beware of ...

Third-seeded Teaneck (12-2) has been to the Jamboree final the past five years, and only its loss last year to Bergen Catholic prevented a fifth consecutive title. Playing the semifinals and final on longer college courts benefits a fast team that features sophomore guard Ja'Quaye James (20.1 ppg) and junior forward Jawaun Daniels (17.4 ppg).

4. NJIC impact

How will the nine teams from the small-school NJIC fare against Big North competition? Can an NJIC team knock off a Big North foe? With the NJIC debuting a separate girls league tournament as an alternative to the county tournament, will a poor showing here also prompt the boys to take their ball and go?

5. Welcome back

Seeded 18th, Park Ridge (12-1) returns to the Jamboree for the first time since 2008. Under second-year coach Adam Kaplan, the Owls have overachieved in the NJIC with a methodical tempo that helps hold opponents under 40 points. …

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