The tragedy of the closing of St. Anthony High School will have a profound effect on the Dan Finn Classic as we move forward for the first time without them. Five schools that played last year have agreed to come back again and help pick up the pieces.
The Patrick School defeated the Friars last year on its way to a magnificent season highlighted by being crowned Tournament of Champion winners. As many as seven college division one players have moved on from the program but don’t feel too bad for them as they have “reloaded” and will again be expected to be a top choice to repeat that feat. Newcomers Atiba Taylor and 6’10” Giorgi Bezhanishvili will join returning stars Al Amir Dawes and Vladir Manuel to ensure that they will be around right to the end.
Newark East Side continues to take major strides in its quest for prominence after defeating State top 10 Mater Dei last year. Elijah Olaniyi will be sorely missed but a quartet of returning players with big minutes led by guards Anas Amos and Jahid Jenkins should place NES as a pre-season top 5 team.
A defensive battle royale resulted in a buzzer beating 1 point win over Frederick Douglas Academy from Harlem last year. Brendan Thiele and Shayne Simon will be the mainstays for St. Peter’s Prep and will be joining newcomers from the successful Freshman and JV programs along with a trio of transfers that should make the Marauders a formidable opponent.
Brighton, known for using 10 – 12 players per game and for 5 man substitutions have graduated 5 key players but that means that 6-7 players with substantial playing time will be returning including mighty mite Johnny Ortiz and sharp shooting Mykel Derring. Their up tempo style will continue to make the Boston squad a favorite at the Armory.
Jason Oppler will lead a group of returning lettermen to a Ramapo team that lost a hard fought 4 point verdict to Brighton last year. The 6’2″ “player of the game” has looks from many D1 schools interested in his services. Coach Joe Sandberg prides himself on a disciplined, defensive approach to the game and this group should live up to his expectations.