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***Seton Hall Prep, Caldwell and Livingston are among programs with players and coaches who help highlight All-Essex honors in what was quite the evenful 2022 season!

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***The Jersey and national sports world is still stunned with sudden passing of colorful ex-NFL player and FOX sideline reporter Tony Siragusa Read "Feature Articles"

***Montclair basketball has gone in different direction not rehiring Gary Wallace and choosing alum Cecil Stinson to direct Mounties moving forward. See "The Buzz"

Rising senior guard Ray Zamloot is one of the talented players set to return for Caldwell which finished 24-4 last winter and is a defending Bloomfield Summer League's playoff champion as the summer hoops loop is in full swing now through July 21 final. (Photo by Gene Nann)

Bloomfield’s Summer Basketball League
Has 20 Teams Preparing For November

By Steve Tober

BLOOMFIELD- Summer high school hoops is a good time to find out where your team might be headed as everyone looks ahead to late November, and while success now brings with it no guarantees for next winter, establishing some sort of identity for a new group can be helpful.

The Bloomfield Summer League, with 20 teams from four counties already competing Monday through Thursday through the playoffs in late July in the Bengals’ main and 4th floor gymnasiums inside the high school on Broad Street, has plenty of possibilities in the minds and hearts of the participants; but, of course, still plenty of questions as well.

“I think what we do have is a great mix of teams with several from Essex County who have been with us for many years now, and a couple from other counties, including Bergen, Passaic and Hudson, which makes for some interesting basketball on almost any evening,” said Mike Passero, Bloomfield’s fifth-year hed coach who has directed the league since taking over the reins of the Bengals from his mentor Pat Brunner, who is the athletic director at Mountain Lakes. “We’ve had some real good competition through the years, including in the playoffs, and we expect more of the same this summer.”

Caldwell, coming off its fine 2021-2022 season in which it finished 24-4 (14-1 in the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division) and reached the semifinals of the Essex County Tournament and also the final in the North 2, Group 2 state tournament, is the defending Bloomfield Summer League playoff champions, having defeated the host Bengals in the 2021 playoff final.     

The final night for this summer’s playoffs will be Thursday, July 21, with the two semifinal contests at 5 and 6 p.m. immediately followed by the championship game at 7.

Coach Mike Fess’ Chiefs return four of their top six players in rising seniors Ray Zamloot, Rocco Checchetto, Lorenzo Sozio and Ryan Lawrence, and could make another strong run at a summer league playoff crown.

Finding additional scoring options to help pick up the slack as far as point production with the graduation of standout shooting guard Cristian Talavera (Rutgers Newark) will be a major task for Fess and company moving forward.

Passero’s Bloomfield Bengals were hit hard by graduation following last winter’s 19-7 (9-4 in the SEC-Colonial) season, but do return a talented point guard in rising senior Shayne Hinton along with steady senior guard Uche Anyanwu.

Both Caldwell and Bloomfield will move up a division this coming winter as they rise up into the SEC’s second division, the Liberty. (See all 5 divisions for 2022-2023 season on ‘Page’).  

Among the annual entrants in the Bloomfield Summer League are local teams such as Verona (15-11 in 2021-2022), Cedar Grove (12-14), Glen Ridge (20-8) and West Essex (17-10). The Hillbillies, under longtime coach Eric McElroy, also lost some key seniors but do return an experienced point guard in rising senior Alex Rodriguez. Cedar Grove, under the guidance of a former standout Verona forward T.J. Jones, will be looking to retool after bidding adieu to top performers such as 3-sport star Alfonso Lombardi (Stockton State for baseball), while Glen Ridge, which won a North 2, Group 1 state sectional title last season, will have to rebuild after the entire starting 5 graduated off last season’s memorable squad that defeated West Side in the N2G1 final. West Essex, with coaches Mike Llauget and Bill Humes guiding the troops, returns a terrific rising senior guard in rising senior scoring machine Joe Ganton and key role players such as seniors Corey Resnick and Billy Hicks.


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