Wallington boys basketball battalion moves to 2-1
By W. L. Bill Allen, Jr.
Director, NJ Sport/Action
WALLINGTON– Following what was the best Fall sports season in the history of Wallington High School -one in which the boys soccer squad won the State Group 1 championship and the football contingent earned a state championship, as well- the WHS boys basketball battalion is off to a strong 2-1 start… and scored 93 points in the squad’s sole setback so far this season.
The Panthers platoon kicked-off its current campaign by mashing Manchester Regional, 76-68, on Friday, Dec. 17, prior to scoring 93 points, but falling, 102-93, at Wood-Ridge on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The following night, though, Wallington bounced right back to waylay Weehawken, 74-65, as the Panthers moved to 2-1 and the Indians fell to 1-2.
“Seven of our players are starters on the football team, so we’re way behind in terms of the team’s development this year, even though it’s for a very,very good reason,” mused first year WHS head coach Chuck Kalender, who is an assistant coach on the Panthers grid contingent, as well.
A member of the WHS Class of 1997 who played football, basketball and baseball for the Panthers, Kalender went on play football at Trinity College.
“However, that said, I’m extremely happy with our start” Kalender continued. “Beating Manchester is never easy and, although the game at Wood-Ridge looked more like an indoor track meet, we did score 93 points and, to tell you the truth, we really lost the game more at the foul line than anywhere else. Wood-Ridge hit 25-of-34 and we went 12-for-20 and we only lost by nine points.”
Among the Panthers regulars are four seniors: 5’8” point guard Brandon Santana, 6’3” small forward Charlie Vellis, six-foot tall forward Marcin Koc and 6’1” frontcourter Tom Minieri, along with a quartet of juniors: six-foot tall shooting guard Dany Pastor, 6’4” power forward Peter Polan, 6’3” pivot person Tyler Soto and six-foot tall forward David Brown.
Against Manchester, Polan totaled 32 points and 10 rebounds, Vellis recorded 23 points, including four treys, Santana added six points, seven assists and a trio of takeaways and Soto contributed 15 points, 10 boards and three shots blocked.
At Wood-Ridge, Polan registered 22 points and hauled down 10 boards, Pastor racked-up 16 points and five helps and Vellis, who again sank four shots from way downtown, totaled a dozen points and an octet of assists, to go along with 10 caroms corralled.
In the win at Weehawken, Vellis recorded 23 points on the strength of a half-dozen three’s, to go along with five rebounds and a quintet of thefts, and Soto added 18 points, 11 caroms collected and four shots blocked.
The Panthers platoon will return to action next week by taking part in the Herb Cohen Holiday Tournament at Wood-Ridge, where the locals will battle Lodi at 6 p.m. and the homestanding Blue Devils will face Hawthorne at 7:30 on Monday, Dec. 27, with the conso clash and the title tussle set for 6 and 7:30 the following day.