Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahoney, James Lead North Jersey into Hoops Season

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahoney, James Lead North Jersey into Hoops Season

Article excerpt

Ja'Quaye James' numbers to remember are "two" and "1,827."

As in the Teaneck senior guard has won two NJSIAA boys' basketball titles and his 1,827 career points are tops among active players in North Jersey.

Jay Mahoney's numbers of note are "38" and "629."

As in the 63-year-old has guided Bogota for 38 seasons and his 629 career victories are tops among active coaches in North Jersey. New Jersey's high school hoops preseason opened Monday, with the outspoken Mahoney running gut-check drills starting at 3 p.m. and the soft-spoken James running inside a weave shortly before 4 p.m. and less than two miles away. Bogota is a tiny Group 1 school and 18 Bucs dared to step onto "Coach Jay Mahoney Court" for a session that began with players diving on the floor for loose balls and continued with them being knocked on their posteriors while drawing a hard charge.

"It's just to set the culture about Bogota basketball players since 1979," said Mahoney, who had offseason surgery on his right knee and wore a brace to start his 39th season. "That means you're going to dive on the floor, you're going to be a good teammate and you're not going to be selfish. That's what we spend the first nine days on."

"The first day of practice is basically a test of character," said senior guard Deiker Padrino, who helped the Bucs total 39 victories over the past two seasons. "And Coach really just pushes us to make sure he knows which kids are meant for the program and which kids are not."

"It's definitely an establishment of toughness," said senior forward Timothy Uzor, who considers it "an honor" to play for Mahoney. "And it brings out the most in kids and it sets up whether you're ready for the varsity level, the JV, or freshmen."

Mahoney's third drill featured two Bucs wrapping their arms around the same basketball – like a bull rider wrapping his hand around the rope before the gate opens - and trying to rip the ball away from the other for the right to play offense first. …

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