Gill St. Bernard’s Boys Basketball program is ready to show the state—and the country—exactly what they’re made of.
“Overall, this might be the most talented team in the history of the school,” commented Mergin Sina, who enters his 18th season as Gill St. Bernard’s head coach. “And that says a lot.”
The Knights, who begin the season ranked #14 in the nation by MaxPreps and CBS Sports, are led by senior captain, Denver Anglin. As a four-year starter, the Georgetown-commit has cemented himself as one of the most heralded point guards in the country, averaging over 25 points a game in last year’s Covid-shortened season.
“Denver is this program’s leader,” said Sina. “Simply put, his energy and winning attitude is what makes this team run. He changes the dynamic.”
Senior forward Drew Kania will join Anglin as team co-captain. The 6’8” forward is attending Brown University next year and is working his way back from an injury, but will add versatility on both ends of the floor once he returns.
"Drew has played a big role in the school's success since he got here,” continued Sina. "We look forward to him suiting up once he’s healthy.”
The Knights roster may be as deep as it is talented. Notable returners include juniors Mackenzie Mgbako, Nick Losada, and Luke Ruggiero, and sophomore Naas Cunningham. Small forward Mgbako is ranked as the #5 player in the country by ESPN for the Class of 2023, while combo guard Cunningham holds the #1 ranking for the Class of 2024. Both Mgbako and Cunningham possess a fluid blend of size, athleticism, and play-making ability that has garnered the attention of top D1 programs. Sina also expects Losada and Ruggiero to carve out important roles while freshman newcomer Peter Mauro will contribute to the Knights success in the back court.
“We could really go 8 to 9 players deep and not lose a step. The talent is tremendous,” said Sina.
Joe McDonald will join Sina’s coaching staff in his first year as head assistant coach alongside veteran assistant coach, Bilal Hill. McDonald joins the Knights’ staff after a successful playing career at George Washington University.
Gill St. Bernard’s carries one of the most formidable schedules in the country, traveling to play in premier tournaments such as the Slam Dunk To the Beach in Delaware, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame HoopHall Classic in Massachusetts, and the City of Palms Classic in Florida. Each team competing in the City of Palms Classic, which takes place December 17 to 23, is currently ranked in the Top 25 nationally.
“It’s a good test for us as a team and a nice moment for the school,” said Sina. “The great thing about playing a national schedule like we have is that we’ll end up playing the top competition in the country.”
Gill’s January 16 matchup versus Philadelphia-based Westtown High School will be televised on ESPN2.
Despite the national praise, Sina wants his players to focus on the team goals that reside closer to home. The Knights hope to use its demanding regular season schedule to prepare for postseason play, specifically a run in the Somerset County and Non-Public B State tournaments. The program’s streak of five-straight county championships was snapped in 2019, and the team will battle perennial powerhouses like The Patrick School and Saint Anthony’s in the state bracket. However, Sina feels like this could be a big year.
“We have a really great group of kids who genuinely like playing together – if we put it all together, we could have something special. We’ll take it one game at a time.”