2023 NJ Challenge Preview

The NJ Challenge is back at Ramapo High School and features must-see teams and players in New Jersey  This weekend, teams from across the state are coming together to battle it out on the court, showcasing some of the best talent we've got. From top-ranked powerhouses to underdog teams making a name for themselves, the NJ Challenge is where all the action is at. 

This year, the event is hosted by Rutgers basketball alumni Geo Baker and in support of his Go Beyond Foundation which aims to empower youth athletes through athletics. As we gear up for an exciting weekend, we take a look at all of the matchups going down this Sunday. 

Glen Rock vs. River Dell

Glen Rock basketball has gotten off to a hot start this year with an impressive 10-4 record with their losses being to some tough teams in North Jersey. They are currently on a 4 game win streak and have been averaging 60 points per game in that span. Junior, Mason Mangione has been the forefront of that offense leading the team with over 15 points per game. Jack Hattersley has also been a big factor in their success scoring the second most points and leading the team in rebounds. 

River Dell comes out with a 6-6 record but have been red hot lately. After a 2-5 start, the Golden Hawks have won 4 of their last 5. In the most recent performance, Liam Hickey got off with a 29 point game adding to his hot start. Sean Golden has also been averaging nearly 20 points a game, giving spark to the River Dell offense.  

Ramsey vs St Peter's Prep

Ramsey comes into this matchup off of back-to-back losses. Prior to that, they started the season with a 10 game win streak. The Rams are led by senior duo Logan Bahn and Michael Bernius, who are both averaging north of 10 points per game. With a 10-2 record, Ramsey can't be overlooked in this matchup. They will be hungry to avenge their two losses and prove that they can take down one of the state's top programs

St. Peter's Prep is coming off the heels of an electric win over cross town rival, Hudson Catholic. The potential game of the year saw senior guard Nico Pena lead the game 26 points scored. Sophmore standout Richie Rosa hit a half-court prayer to secure the win for St. Peter's. SPP is having an outstanding season thus far, compiling a 12-1 record, taking down some of the state's top programs in the process. Look for Peter's to come out firing to show that they are a top 5 team in the state for a reason.

Hudson Catholic vs Colonia

Hudson Catholic has been playing high level basketball all season. Led by one of the best players in the state, Auburn commit Tahaad Pettiford, the Hawks have put together an impressive resume. They hold wins over some top programs like Roselle Catholic and Rutgers Prep. Coming off a heartbreaking loss vs St. Peter's Prep, Hudson Catholic will be playing with a chip on their shoulder in this matchup, so be prepared to witness some of their best play of the season.

Colonia has had a solid season thus far, coming in at 8-5 on the season. Four of their five losses are by 3 points or less, so its safe to say that they can hang in there with the best of them. Colonia is home to one of the top players in the state, sophomore guard Aiden Derkack. He is averaging an impressive 21 points and 8 rebounds per game, contributing to a great amount of Colonia's success. Expect Colonia to put up a tough battle and keep the game close as they have done all season.

Ramapo vs St. Mary's Rutherford

Ramapo has had an absolute gauntlet of a schedule so far this season, taking defeats by the likes of top programs such as Bergen Catholic, Montclair Immaculate, and St. Peter's Prep just to name a few. As they still have a tough road ahead, Ramapo is no stranger to strong competition. The Raiders come into the matchup with a 9-5 record, led by Princeton commit Peyton Seals. The senior guard is good for around 13 points per game. Chris Cervino has also stepped up for Ramapo this season, matching Seals with 13 PPG. Ramapo's experience and tough schedule has prepared them to compete when the lights shine the brightest, so don't expect them to shy away.

St. Mary's Rutherford has put together another impressive season thus far. They sit at 12-2 and are led by senior trio; Luke Gaccione, Victor Torres, and L.J. Falconi, who all average over 10 points per game respectively. St. Mary's best win of the season came by way of a 67-61 victory over Teaneck, where Falconi and Torres combined for 44 points. The Gaels are a tough team and are provided with another opportunity to prove themselves against a top program in Ramapo.