HILLSIDE, NJ- With the abbreviated high school basketball season winding down, Arthur L. Johnson High School girls basketball head coach Joe Marino was able to add an accolade to his basketball coaching career.

The fifth-year head coach recorded his 200th career victory Monday night, with Johnson defeating Hillside High School 48-36.

The team presented Marino with a poster and a basketball to commemorate the occasion, along with a team picture.

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“The journey has been exciting throughout the years,” Marino said. “There has been ups and downs but the most exciting part of my career is the student athletes I get to work with on a daily basis.”

Marino's appreciation for the ability to work with his players has been evident to his peers too.  "His(Marino) passion and enjoyment of coaching is extremely motivating to the players. Joe wants the girls to be successful not only on the court, but in the classroom as well as in life." said Assistant Coach Johnson  Dave Hartzler. "He always talks to the girls about the importance of hard work, commitment and dedication in reaching their goals."

This year’s team is composed of seven freshmen players, eight sophomores and three juniors. They improved their record to 4-5 on the season following the victory.

“When the team presented me with the poster and basketball it really touched my heart,” Marino said. “These players are great student athletes to work with, most of all they all played a big part in this day and I am grateful for this team of hard workers who never give up regardless of the team they compete against. My son Joey has been keeping close record of my wins and decided to share it with the girls.

Marino led the Crusaders to the Union County Mountain Division Conference championship during the 2016-17 season, the program’s first in nine seasons (2007-08).

He credits his players for giving their all and continuing to stay determined during a challenging season with the COVID-19 pandemic, which wreaked havoc upon the sports seasons, shortening them and including no state tournament games taking place.

“With all the craziness going on these days with the pandemic we have learned to take each day at a time, not knowing when we can get a call to shut down,” Marino said on the current basketball season. “We have been lucky to this point and have gelled into a very competitive program regardless of our opponent.”

The team closes out their season with home games against Governor Livingston Wednesday night and Kent Place Friday night.

“These girls listen and have great personalities. These girls are every coach’s dream and demonstrate this on the court and in the classroom,” Marino added about his players. “As far as getting excited for games, I love getting prepared for any coach’s challenge, win or lose, our Johnson girls will give their all.

“Let’s face it without a wonderful group of athletes this milestone would not have been achieved,” Marino said.

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