Jim Ruhnke, who built Southern Regional into one of the shore’s premier basketball programs for two decades, will be among the inductees into the Hall of Honor when The Basketball Reunion holds its second annual event on Monday, April 3 at the Prudential Center.  Ruhnke began his tenure at Southern in the 1973-74 season following three seasons as the head coach at Piscataway.  Over the next 20 years he would win 323 games, appear in 18 state tournaments, claim 5 WOBM Christmas Classic titles and make the Rams a tough opponent for teams with greater talent.  In 2020 the court in the 9/10 gym at Southern was named in his honor. Ruhnke will enter the Hall of Honor under the Made in Jersey category.  A former standout at Clifford Scott High School (East Orange) Ruhnke went on to play at Trenton State (Now The College of New Jersey) from 1962-66.

Another honoree at the event with a connection to the Jersey Shore is Rob Kennedy, president of The Hoop Group in Neptune which is well-known among players, coaches and parents.  The company has helped grow the sport through professional instruction, competition and exposure. Kennedy is also well-known for his work as a college basketball broadcaster.

Rob Kennedy
Rob Kennedy

The Basketball Reunion was created to celebrate New Jersey’s rich basketball history at all levels for both genders and to reunite coaches, players and fans in what’s called a “steakhouse experience” on the floor of Newark’s Prudential Center.  The inaugural event last year proved to be a huge success in bringing together hundreds from a wide variety of high school and college teams from different eras.

Other Hall of Honor inductees to be saluted include Mike Fratello, Brian Hill, Jim Spanarkel, Mike O’Koren, Bob Hurley Sr., Terry Dehere and Shaheen Holloway.

Proceeds from the event benefit Team Hill Foundation’s programs that assist at-risk youth through their interest in athletics including special events and camp scholarships.  Fred Hill Jr. said the yearly reunion is designed to celebrate the tradition and history of New Jersey basketball on every level and he hopes one day that every high school and college in the state will be represented.

NBC-TV award-winning sports anchor Bruce Beck will serve as emcee for the evening.  For more information, or to purchase tickets for the April 3 event, visit www.thebasketballreunion.com or www.teamhillfoundation.org.

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