It’s been a good start for the Passaic Valley High boys’ basketball team, which won the Vernon Viking Holiday Tournament and played an excellent game against undefeated Wayne Hills, on Jan. 3.
Head coach Jim Holsworth’s squad was 3-3 heading into a game at Lakeland, on Jan. 8. On Jan. 10, the Hornets host Clifton at 4:15 p.m. and on Jan. 15, Fair Lawn comes to PV for a 4:15 p.m. contest.
The Hornets had played a solid tournament in Vernon over the Christmas holiday. In the first round, PV defeated the host school, 80-50. before winning a close game against Mount Olive in the title game, on Dec. 28, 34-32. It was the first time the Hornets had won a holiday tournament in four years.
PV head coach Jim Holsworth, with standout players Steven Nitch (to Holsworth’s left) and team captain Elliot Whitney. (Click on photo for larger image)
“It felt good to get those wins in Vernon,” said Holsworth. “Our kids are working hard, and we knew that winning the tournament would be a good thing for a very young team. We had to travel about two hours, each day, and that means keeping a good mental approach. It was a good experience, in a nice environment. Vernon has a beautiful facility.”
Versus Vernon, Brian Whitney, a freshman, led all scorers with 23 points while older brother Elliot Whitney, a sophomore, had 14 points and Brandon Timothy finished with 13 points.
Zander Timothy had seven points, Alex Actable, Steven Nitch and Angel Rodriguez scored five points each, Rashaun Rex and Antonio Bargiel scored three each and Justin Paruirigan finished with two.
In the win over Mount Olive, Elliot Whitney led the way with 15 points while Nitch had 11. Whitney was named the tournament’s outstanding player and Nitch earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.
With a 3-2 record, PV played its first home game on Jan. 3, opposite an undefeated Wayne Hills squad. Wayne Hills is now coached by Rob Carcich, the long-time PV head coach.
Holsworth and Rob Carcich meet before a game on Jan. 3. (Click on photo for larger image)
“We knew Wayne Hills would be a tough assignment, but I really liked the way our kids performed,” said Holsworth, who was an assistant to Carcich for three years, before being named head coach in 2016. “Rob is such a great coach, and there’s so much Hills can do with their guard play and big guys up front.”
Wayne Hills improved to 7-0 by defeating the Hornets, 61-47, but PV was very much in the game until the Patriots pulled away in the fourth quarter. Brandon Timothy led the Hornets with 15 points while Actable scored 13 and Elliot Whitney finished with 11.
“The key was the play of Jake Belli,” said Holsworth, referring to Wayne Hills’ point guard. “Jake is a seasoned player, he knows how to create opportunities and he’s tough to defend. Wayne Hills had a little more size and strength, and that’s something we can improve on, as our kids continue to grow as players. We’re a team of mostly freshmen and sophomores, with some good juniors. Our schedule will be tough this year, but I really think that’s going to make us a much better team.”
Belli led all scorers with 21 points while Pulast Thaker and Nebi Ademi scored 12 each and Jason Sanfilippo scored 10 for Wayne Hills.