Bogota's gym court is named after legendary coach Jay Mahoney, who has led the boys' hoops team for the past 41 seasons.

Bogota’s gym court is named after legendary coach Jay Mahoney, who has led the boys’ hoops team for the past 41 seasons. (Photo: GREG MATTURA/NORTHJERSEY.COM)

As we wait for high school sports to return, the NorthJersey.com local sports reporters are looking back on the greatest games the region has ever seen. We’re inviting coaches and former athletes to share their best memories too.

Jay Mahoney has been Bogota’s legendary boys’ basketball coach for 41 seasons, and the retired business teacher also led the program’s boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams from 1986 to 2017.

Mahoney’s choice for his most memorable game was his combined 1,000th career victory, an 89-84 basketball win at Garfield on Feb. 19 of 2019 that lasted four grueling overtimes.

He shares his story here:

Mahoney cherishes his 1,000th career win because it recognizes his commitment to cross-country, where he won 334 dual meets and state girls’ titles in 1994 and 1996, as well as basketball, where he won a state title in 1990 and Bergen County Jamboree crowns in 1990 and 1993.

“No one knew I was going for 1,000. I never said a word. To be honest, there were people who didn’t know I coached cross-country. It always annoyed the hell out of me that people had no idea. And not only did we win, we won like crazy.

“We would be outside the school because we don’t have a track, and we would be warming up, and referees would be walking in to do girls volleyball who also were basketball referees and they would say to me, ‘What the heck are you doing here?’ And I would say, ‘I coach cross-country.’ We actually won bigger in cross-country than we did in basketball.”

Mahoney has 687 career basketball victories, No. 2 all-time in Bergen boys’ history, and cannot remember another game that lasted four overtimes.

“After the game ended, I couldn’t stand up, I was so tired. It was like, ‘Could this please end.’ It was the most bizarre game I’ve ever been involved in.”

Bogota rallied from a 41-35 deficit as senior Kenjiee Polanco scored a game-high 30, including a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to send it to OT tied at 54.

“Polanco had a really good fourth quarter – he really did. He scored 11 in the fourth, and he had back-to-back threes. [Freshman] Evan Meberg had a key basket in the fourth. [Senior] Argenis Soriano brought a lot of energy and had a big steal and basket in the fourth.”

Sophomores Taj Collins and Ashanti Caviness had clutch overtimes, with Collins scoring 12 of his 20 before fouling out and Caviness 11 of his 17 in the extra sessions.

“Caviness, who wasn’t a great foul shooter, also made two big free throws in the fourth quarter. Collins made four [of his six] three-pointers in overtime. I would say [four treys in an OT] has to be a Bogota record.”

Mahoney, whose Bucs hit 12 three-pointers, said the postgame mood featured a lot more exhaustion than celebration.

“There was no jumping up and down. It was like, ‘What just happened?’ There was disbelief. The funniest thing as you look back is the score keeping – it was a challenging experience.”

Mahoney’s son, Kyle, the only other person to know about the 1,000th win, came to Dad’s rescue by reporting the box score to The Record & NorthJersey.com. Jay was too fried to add up all those numbers.

“I didn’t make a big deal out of it. There was no celebration, because no one knew about it, except me and Kyle. Thankfully, he called the game in to The Record, because we couldn’t figure out the book. I was ecstatic that he called in the game.”

Greg Mattura is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get breaking news directly to your phone, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.

Email: mattura@northjersey.com Twitter: @gregmattura