Finke looks back on basketball season

Nucleus of team will return in 2015

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  • Photo provided One of the highlights for the Highlanders' basketball season was Luke Basket's 1,000th point.


Like most teams in any given sport, the West Milford High School boy’s basketball program suffered its share of setbacks this season. It’s how the Highlanders bounced back from those tough setbacks such as close losses and injuries that’s important.

West Milford finished the season with double digit wins (12) and advanced to the NJSIAA North I Group III Sectional Tournament where they were narrowly defeated by a score of 68-65 by Garfield.

“We suffered some tough injuries this year, but the team practiced hard every day,” West Milford head coach John Finke said. “Our seniors all played hard right to the last game and that shows the kind of character these kids have.

“Our three captains did a great job of making sure everyone on the team worked hard and contributed in practice every day. They were John Tierney, Luke Basket and Dillon Forsythe. Two of our juniors also showed a lot of leadership on the court. Tom Pegel and Noah Basket worked very hard in every game for us.”

Finke recalled those contests that were most meaningful on a number of fronts for the Highlander program.

“There are four games that stand out,” Finke said. “Opening night versus Wayne Valley we won by 22 and scored 76 points; we beat them twice. The next is our game at Paterson Kennedy. We won by 11 and held their leading scorer to 11 points. This was our first game without Mike Otero and we stepped up to the challenge.

“Next is our game versus St. Joe’s (Montvale) where we won in overtime (88-82) after having time put back on the clock at the end of the game and thinking we won. St. Joe’s went to the Bergen County Jamboree semifinal and won 19 games. The last one is our win in the Private vs. Public Challenge at Dwight Morrow High School versus St Mary's (Rutherford). We won by 20 and Luke Basket became the fourth player in school history to score 1,000 points.”

The 2014-2015 season could be a bright one indeed for the Highlanders.

“We have the nucleus of our team back for next year,” Finke said. “We have our leading scorer in Otero, our point guard in Noah Basket, first team All-Conference player Tom Pegel and our 6-foot 8-inch center Pat Burke.

“We have bench players Ryan Lentz and Shea Remschel back as well to give us extra depth. We will also be getting two-year letter winner Sam Yuhas back from a season-long knee injury," said Finke. "We have talented players on our junior varsity team and some good young players coming through the program.”

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