Standing at 6-foot-7, towering over most of his competition on the court, senior center Jack Cole is performing well for the Pioneers’ varsity basketball team.
At last Friday’s home game against Oratory Prep, Cole played well on offense and defense, securing 16 points.
The Pioneers had a losing streak after games against Jonathan Dayton and . Cole was able to score 22 points in the first three quarters against Dayton, but the
“We lost to Roselle and Dayton. They were both close games and hard fought, and we’ve been playing hard all season,” Cole said. “We had a few players out for personal reasons so we were short handed a little bit so a few people had to step up. They’ve been doing a really good job filling the voids and playing as a team.”
Going into last night’s game against Roselle Catholic, Cole knew the Pioneers would have some tough competition with a certain player.
“Roselle Catholic is definitely a very good team. They have a very good player in Jameel Warney so we’re going to have to play well tonight and make sure we contain him and the best of the team so we can pull out a win,” Cole told Patch Thursday afternoon.
Cole did not underestimate his opponents as the Pioneers fell to Roselle Catholic 56-35. Justin Singer led the team with nine points, while Cole (eight rebounds) and Vinny Fuschetto each contributed eight points.
"Last night, they outplayed us," Coach Art Cattano told Patch Friday afternoon. "We didn't play real well in the second-half. We're hoping to play well tonight. Brearley only has one win so we're just hoping we don't get lazy or sloppy. We're going to go out there and play hard, like we always do."
The Pioneers will face David Brearley at home tonight at 7 p.m. As the No. 11 seed in the Union County Tournament, New Providence will also play Roselle on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the first round.
“We’re playing Roselle in the first round, who we beat once and lost to (twice) so we know they’re a good team,” Cole said. “We know what kind of style they play. Hopefully we can pull out a win.”
Cole said one of his main goals going into the season was getting the team off to a better start, which he thinks the team accomplished.
“It was all the hard work everyone put in during the summer and better team chemistry,” Cole said. “I think I’m playing well. I could always be playing better, but no one’s perfect so there’s always room for improvement.”
Cole will attend Stonehill College in Massachusetts in the fall on a basketball scholarship.
The girls’ varsity basketball team has been successful this season. Part of that success has come from stellar performances from sophomore guard Cassandra Squeri, who averages 14.9 points per game.
At the Feb. 3 game against A.L. Johnson, Squeri led all scorers with 21 points and the team nailed down a Against Hillside on Tuesday, Squeri led the offense again, this time with 25 points, helping to secure an . The Pioneers have won the last five games.
“Our focus is to win one game at a time and to play our best all 32 minutes, in each quarter, play hard and play together as a team and make sure we’re focused on communicating on the court,” Squeri said.
It was Squeri, with a team-high 15 points, who kept the in Thursday's 59-44 victory over Jonathan Dayton. Laura Gregory totaled 13 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and a steal, and Emma Culleton, who added 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Kaitlyn Cresencia was also instrumental in the victory with a 10-point, seven-rebound.
Looking ahead to tonight, Squeri and the Lady Pioneers will face Roselle Catholic.
“If we keep playing the way we’ve been playing, I think we’ll do pretty well,” Squeri said. “And I think knowing Roselle Catholic, this will give us a chance to prove ourselves in the county.”
The Lady Pioneers, seeded second in the Union County Tournament, could face Roselle Catholic, seeded first, again within the next few weeks.
“It will be good to play them before we see might them in the county tournament,” Squeri said. “I think if we keep playing the way we’ve been playing that we’ll get pretty far [in the tournament] and hopefully be in that championship game against whoever gets there as well.”
New Providence was given byes from the quarterfinals in the tournament, and will play their first game next Sunday.
Squeri said she thinks she accomplished her goal of being more relaxed on the court this season.
“Last year, when I went into the game, I got kind of nervous. So this year was basically to just relax and [know that] there was no pressure on me or anyone because everyone on the team is really good,” Squeri said. “They help me and they brought up my game. Just to not hesitate to shoot the ball or drive to the basket at any time.”
Squeri said she still has a few things to work on though.
“[I think I need to work on] making my layups,” she said. “Even if we’re up or down by a lot, every layup counts, every opportunity matters.”
Although college is too far off, Squeri said she may play basketball or softball.
Congratulations, Cassandra and Jack!