Kenilworth players look ready for 2021-22 basketball season

KENILWORTH, NJ — The game plan for this year, drawn up as so many X’s and O’s on a chalkboard, has Kenilworth’s David Brearley High School Bears boys basketball team looking toward the future, while evaluating its prospects in the present.

“We’re trying to build for now from the bottom up,” second-year head coach Ryan Huber said.

After opening with Union County Conference–Valley Division home game setbacks to Roselle Park High School and Clark’s Arthur L. Johnson High School on Saturday, Dec. 18, and Tuesday, Dec. 21, Brearley missed playing in the Palisades Park Tournament that included host Palisades Park, Leonia and Weehawken high schools.

Bouncing back from a COVID situation, Brearley was scheduled to play at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle on Tuesday, Jan. 4, after press time, and has road games scheduled at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield on Thursday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. and at Manville High School on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 1 p.m.

“We’ve been off since Dec. 21, so we’re just looking for some kind of consistency,” Huber said on Sunday, Jan. 2. “The No. 1 goal is to stay healthy and then to get better every day.”

Huber, who was the basketball head coach at Cranford for 12 seasons, from the 2006-2007 season to the 2017-2018 season, became Brearley’s head coach last season, after not coaching basketball for two years. He is also still a longtime assistant football coach at Cranford.

Brearley was able to get only six games in last year, winning one.

“We had 12 practices, got shut down twice and played only six times,” Huber said, referring to, perhaps, the briefest season Brearley ever had. “Last year, we had nine seniors, and they were here every day in a season that was stop-and-go throughout.”

Huber said he was pleased to report that 42 players came out this season, with 21 making it onto junior varsity and varsity rosters.

“We have only four seniors, so 17 will return,” Huber said.
This year’s only returning full-time varsity player is junior guard Diego Bendezu, who paced David Brearley High School in scoring in its first two games, netting 11 against Roselle Park and 11 more against ALJ.

Also in the rotation are senior forward Omar Gray, junior guards Glen McCray and Jake Zawacki, sophomore guards Ryan Obiedzinski and Joe Pinto, junior Robbie Zack, and seniors Matt Scalise, Brian Santiago-Kauffman and Gary Thind.

Zawacki’s grandfather, Ted Zawacki, 25 years ago guided the 1996-1997 Union Farmers to the Group 4 state championship.