Carcich Meter Hits 200

His team had just defeated Wayne Hills in the first round of the Passaic County Tournament and Rob Carcich, Passaic Valley’s feisty coach had finished the obligatory handshakes.

I approached him to say congrats and he looked at me with that curious, ‘we’ve been to the PCT quarters before’ glance.

“Two hundred wins, way to go,” I said to him. And the look on his face resembled his glee when the Hornets play Carcich-type defense.

“That’s right,” he said with that sinister snicker. “I completely forgot.”

MC_TDpvintent02_051712_td_tif_Rob Carcich, shown here with former PV star Olumide Onajide last spring, won his 200th career game as a high school basketball coach on Feb. 2, as the Hornets downed the Wayne Hills Patriots, 56-30.

For Carcich, Passaic Valley’s 56-30 victory not only assured his seventh seeded team a berth in the PCT quarters next Saturday against second seeded DePaul at Paterson Kennedy, but it also marked the 200th victory in a near 15-year coaching career which started at Palisades Park, extended to his home town of Hasbrouck Heights  before landing at Passaic Valley in what is his ninth season.

Carcich, who passes compliments with the ease of tossing a manhole cover, was clearly pleased with his team’s effort today. The man who will soon make the Carcich Meter a household item, feels his young team is starting to make strides as it won its third straight game.

“We played well, probably our best overall game of the season so far,” Carcich said. “When I went in to talk to them in the pre-game, I was like ‘why is this place (the locker room) like a morgue?’ And Zach (Damiano) just looked up and said ‘we’re ready’. I said, ‘let’s go then.'”

The Hornets (12-6) jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on a pair of threes by Stefan Minic and that was pretty much it. PV led 10-6 after one quarter and 26-12 at the half.

Minic provided the scoring boost in the first half, but there were plenty of other contributors. Damiano was outstanding. The junior 2-guard had nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Mike Cirrincione had his best game of the season with 13 points. Freshman point guard Jihad Wright is dishing the ball at a frantic pace now, making quick and reliable decisions.

Dan Cirrincione was in early foul trouble against Wayne Hills, but he still had some key rebounds. Shawn Ulrich is quietly becoming a force in the middle, Ian Hanley, the lone senior in the entire program, provides leadership and stability and Minic’s 17 points was a welcome sight for the junior forward who clearly controls the offense and is the team’s go-to guy.

But this was more than just a win. It was a milestone for Carcich, who recalled his first victory against New Milford in a 3-win season. When he came to Passaic Valley nine years ago, he took over a program that was 6-63 the past three seasons. Today, the Hornets are a perennial winner, a program pretty much assured an eighth straight winning season.

“It’s special,” Carcich said. “Yeah, I forgot at first, but looking back, it’s a nice milestone.”

Carcich hopes win number 201 comes on Tuesday, when the Hornets play Wayne Hills once again, this time in league game at Wayne. A win assures the Hornets its first conference title since Jimmy Carter was president, back in 1979.

“We want that title,” Carcich said. “It would mean a lot to get this program on that wall (in the PV gym, where all champions are listed).”

In the meantime, congrats, Rob, on a nice accomplishment.

Even if you did forget about it.

By mike051893

Passaic Valley wrestling riding on Cruz control

When the 2012-2013 wrestling season began at Passaic Valley High, the team’s head coach, Joe Benvenuti had a lot of hope for 106 pounder Anthony Cruz.

It’s not often a senior wrestles at that weight class, and having a grappler with varsity experience and savvy like Cruz had the coach thinking the lighter weights could dominate at Little Falls.

After getting off to an 8-2 start through matches of Dec. 29, Cruz struggled, losing four of his next five bouts. After picking up a few wins by forfeit, Cruz regained his confidence midway in January. Beginning with a pin in a Jan. 12 bout against Devin Garrido of North Bergen, Cruz has put together a 9-2 mark.

“I’d say it turned around for him in our quad match (on Jan. 19) against three really good teams in Bound Brook, Delsea and St. Peter’s Prep,” Benvenuti said. “He won two big matches against Delsea and Bound Brook before losing a 2-1 decision to a really good wrestler in Alec Kelly of St. Peter’s. That match could have gone either way, but I think Anthony learned from it and has carried that over into a big part of our season.”

Cruz followed the quad match by pinning Fair Lawn’s Matt Belmonte on Jan. 23, then excelled at the Passaic County Tournament (PCT) three days later, winning two decisions before dropping a 6-4 bout to DePaul’s William Kui in the county final.

Undeterred, Cruz has dominated his past two bouts, needing a grand total of 95 seconds to secure a pair of pins in matches opposite West Milford and Gov. Livingston of Berkeley Heights.

Cruz is 20-8 heading into a key dual match against PCT champion DePaul, at home on Feb. 7, where he could face Kui once again. While the Hornets have already clinched the Big North championship for the first time in Bevenuti’s tenure at PV, the DePaul match will be key for the team as it prepares for the NJSIAA sectionals, which begins the week of Feb. 11.

“DePaul is a huge match,” Benvenuti said. “We’ll need everyone to step it up, for sure.”

It certainly appears as if Cruz is ready for that test, and as a senior, his leadership will be key for a relatively young team as it hopes to advance in the state tournament.



By mike051893