June 20, 2018

Displaying Championship Form in Opener, Packer Hall Tops Apex in Summer Hoops

NICK OF TIME: Nick Brackett, right, of the Packer Hall All-Stars battles with Elias Bermudez of Majeski Foundation last summer at the Community Park courts in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action. Last Monday, Brackett scored 12 points to help defending league champion Packer Hall defeat Apex Sport 72-56 in the opening night of the 2018 season. In other action on Monday, Majeski defeated Gomo Health 47-32 and LoyalTees edged NJ Spiritwear 60-55. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The Packer Hall All-Stars didn’t look like a title contender in the Princeton Department Summer Men’s Basketball League last year when it lost its first three games on the way to a 2-6 regular season record.

But the squad caught fire at the right time, advancing to the best-of-three championship series as the seventh seed and then proceeding to sweep top-seeded and defending champion Majeski Foundation to culminate an unlikely title run.

Last Monday as Packer Hall opened its 2018 campaign, it didn’t wait to display championship form, cruising to a 72-56 win over Apex Sport.

Packer Hall team manager and forward Nick Brackett liked the way the squad handled its business against Apex.

“We didn’t play selfishly; we all got to shoot around and we all had some fun,” said Brackett, a former player at The College of New Jersey who is one of several TCNJ alums on the Packer Hall squad.

“We were all laughing, having a good time. We didn’t get down on each other when we made a couple of mistakes. It was a lot of fun and that is what summer basketball should be.”

Boasting some key additions to its roster, Packer Hall figures to have a lot of fun this summer.

“We have a lot of great players,” said Brackett, noting the team’s roster features such former college performers as Bert McCallam, Rafiq Williams, Khalid Lewis, and Kevin Johnson.

Brackett’s brother, Bobby, a former TCNJ standout, and Brett, a former star tight end for Penn State who saw some action in the NFL, have joined the team, which could make for some great family moments.

“It is awesome once we can get all three of us playing,” said Brackett. “Bobby is coaching at West Virginia. He will come to a few games; I wanted to put him on the roster for when he gets home. Brett and I have only played organized sports together once. He is five years older than I am.”

In the win over Apex, Brackett played well, scoring 12 points and doing yeoman’s work in the paint. Zavon Johnson and Williams led the way for Packer Hall, tallying 16 points apiece.

“I just try to be a vocal leader, I try to keep everybody happy,” said Brackett “I know I am not going to score a lot, it is not my thing any more. I am just trying to keep the camaraderie up, that is what I did at TCNJ. I didn’t play a lot but I try to stay positive and be there for everybody. That is what I am going to try to do here.”

Packer Hall will be trying its hardest to win a second straight title. “I know a couple of teams are trying to match up with us; we are not even at our strongest right now,” said Brackett, noting that star guard Lewis, last season’s playoff MVP, wasn’t on hand Monday but should be in action as the season unfolds. “I hope we can repeat but I don’t like to jinx it. That is the goal; we want to have fun but we want to win.”