So, the 2012-2013 boys basketball season at Passaic Valley is now in the books, following a 51-34 setback at Sparta in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA, North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 tournament.
The seventh seeded Hornets battled throughout the game, but the team could never get into an offensive rhythm while Sparta, the second seed, consistently hit the key perimeter basket. PV was as close as nine points, 37-28 (and had missed seven foul shots at that point) early in the fourth quarter before a 13-4 run by Sparta put the game out of reach.
The Hornets finished 16-10, marking the eighth straight winning season in the nine years since Rob Carcich arrived at Little Falls to take over a program that was 6-63 in its previous 69 games. The 2012-2013 season was highlighted by a Big North championship, the first conference title for the boys basketball program at PV since 1979.
Passaic Valley was well represented at the game by a vocal fan base. Dan Davatelis, a junior at PV, had his championship belt well displayed for everyone to see. The Hornets had a packed fan bus to Sparta, and even as the bus was pulling out after the game, there was Davatelis holding the belt out of the bus window, basically saying ‘we’ll be back in 2014.’
Dan’s prognostications aside, there are many who feel that the Hornets will be back with a vengeance next season, since the entire team returns, with the exception of senior guard Ian Hanley, who turned in another solid effort in his final high school game last night.
Carcich, never one to beat around the bush, called a well placed time out in the closing seconds of last night’s game at Sparta. With his team trailing by double digits, there was little game strategy involved, but a clear message.
“I told them, ‘there are 273 days before the start of practice'”, Carcich said. “And basically, ‘what are you going to do between now and then?’ We have a strong senior class coming back and a lot of big kids who now have a year of varsity experience. We have the potential to be a Top 20 club. We can also be a 16 win team that wins a game in the state tournament and loses to a team like Sparta in the second round. This year, it was about gaining varsity experience from kids with talent, but not a lot of playing time.
“They have that playing time now. The next step is winning games consistently, and that starts with any game we’re playing in the spring, the summer, the fall. Whenever we’re out there, that’s the focus, winning. If you’re not on board with that, fine, say so. But I’m pretty sure these kids want more. And if they do, that work needs to start right away. If you want to get to the level of Sparta, or Teaneck, you can’t let down.”
And let me congratulate the PV student body, which got a boost from first-year assistant coach Jim Holsworth, a social studies teacher who challenged his students, including Dan Davatelis, to be more vocal at home games after an article I wrote which described the gym at PV as “The Library”.
The students took that as an insult and began to rev it up at home games. Eventually, the enthusiasm went on the road, culminated by the fan bus which took the 50 mile drive to Sparta last night and the adoption of “Holsworth’s Heroes” as the fan base, hopefully for years to come.