New Providence Holds Off Caldewell, 68-57; Fuschetto, Morgan and Cole Power Pioneers Past Chiefs

New Providence's Will Madsen rips down a rebound in the second quarter of the Pioneers 68-57 win over Caldwell.
Cole takes a free throw during the second quarter of the Pioneers' 68-57 over Caldwell on Friday night. Cole finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and seven blocked shots.
New Providence's Jack Cole (1) is guarded in the paint by Caldwell's Bill Pierce.
New Providence head coach Art Cattano patrols the sidelines during the first half of the Pioneers' 68-57 win over visiting Caldwell. Cattano has coached his team to respectable 10-12 record after a rought 1-8 start to the season.

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Few observers of the area's high school hoops scene gave much thought to the New Providence Pioneers after the first nine games of the 2009-10 season and for good reason. They held a 1-8 record and were turnover prone in a very big way. Sure they were coached by Art Cattano, a respected coach who has amassed over 350 wins in his career, and yes they had junior center Jack Cole roaming the middle, but what else was there during those first nine games? Not much then, but after a double-digit win over a tough Caldwell team on Friday night, there is plenty going on inside those green and white uniforms as of now. You could say that the Pioneers are hot. And you'd be right.

The Pioneers have pulled off a 180-degree turn over the course of the past 13 games. Since starting with that dreadful 1-8 record, Cattano's squad is 9-4 and has finally found its identity on the court. Led by a lightning-fast backcourt and anchored by the 6-6, long-armed Cole in the paint, New Providence is suddenly a difficult team to beat.

The Caldwell Chiefs found that out the hard way on Friday night at New Providence when the Pioneers erased a 31-28 halftime deficit and took the lead with just under six minutes to play in the third quarter. Even though Caldwell turned up the defensive pressure, the Pioneers minimized their turnovers - something that had haunted them earlier in the season - and held on tightly to the lead they would not relinquish on the way to a ten-point win.

The game started out as a clash of big men with Cole and Caldwell's bulky center Dave Levinsky going head to head. Cole blocked a shot attempt on Caldwell's first possession, but Levinsky recovered and dropped in two of his game-high 31 points on a smooth, close-range jumper. Cole answered immediately at the other end with a jump hook and the game looked as if it would turn into a battle of the big men. However, it would be the Pioneers' guard play that would be the decisive factor in determining the outcome of the game.

"We tried to space things out offensively and take advantage of our match-ups," Cattano said. "Our guards hit some clutch shots and after we got the lead we did a good job of protecting it and opening up the floor on the offensive end."

The Pioneers led 19-15 at the end of the first quarter, but the second quarter belonged to Caldwell. The Chiefs put together a strong period of play thanks to point guard Mike Fees creating havoc defensively and Levinsky dominating the paint. Caldwell also got a couple of three-point buckets from guard/forward Connor Smith late in the quarter. Levinsky hit a couple of free throws to extend the Chiefs' advantage to 31-28 at the half.

The second half got underway in defensive fashion as Cole swatted two Caldwell shot attempts on the Chiefs' first two possessions, the first of which led to a fast-break lay-up for Morgan on the other end. From start to finish, Cole was a huge defensive presence for the Pioneers, on at least two occasions blocking multiple shots on a single possession.

Cole stands 6-6, but his long, lanky wingspan makes him an ideal shot-blocker and he finished the evening with seven rejections and one thunderous two-handed dunk that ignited the crowd and his teammates alike. While the junior center finished with only 14 points - a low total by his standards - he played hard on defense and, aside from all the blocked shots, altered several others and ripped down numerous offensive and defensive boards. "I think he blocked a lot of shots," Cattano said of Cole after the game. "He's probably already broken the school record. He had 70 last year. I don't know how many he had tonight, but I think it was seven or eight. He really helps on zone-man and he helps the other guys as well. He's really nice to have [in the paint]."

Caldwell's offense continued to mainly come from Levinsky and Fees, but while the Caldwell attack was somewhat one-dimensional, Morgan, Fuschetto and Joe Meyers began to heat up in the backcourt for New Providence.

In the third quarter, Fuschetto really started to make his mark offensively. During one stretch after the Pioneers had regained the lead, Fuschetto and Meyers scored 11 of New Providence's final 12 points of the quarter.

"Our guards have really been improving throughout the whole year," Cattano said. "We tried to isolate Fruschetto a little bit because we thought we got some mismatches because of his quickness. He's also able to post kids up, even despite his size, and Joey [Meyers] has been doing a good job for us, as well."

The Pioneers led 49-43 at the end of three quarters and pulled away in the final period using the tried and true formula of Fruschetto, Morgan and Meyers running the backcourt and Cole guarding the paint to pull away and stretch the lead to 15 at one point.

Caldwell tried unsuccessfully to foul towards the end of the game, but the Pioneers were steady from the line. New Providence also displayed patience and poise in front of a relentless Caldwell full-court press as the Pioneers protected the ball well for the most part. The ball security was a marked improvement over the early season troubles that plagued New Providence.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Pioneers had an 11-point victory under their belts thanks to Fruschetto's team-high 16 points and solid games from Morgan (15 points) and Meyers (nine points).

After the game Cattano explained matter-of-factly the growth and maturity his team has experienced due to the fact they fought through those early season struggles. "The momentum is real good because we started out 1-8 and we're 10-12 now and we played some of the teams that beat us the first time and we beat them," Cattano said. "I thought us winning at St. Mary's was a huge win because you very rarely win down there. And beating Middlesex after that and [Caldwell] is a good team here. We're geared for the playoffs and happy to be in it because we think we can do some damage."

Having finally found their identity - and a winning formula - the Pioneers are a seed no team will want to draw for fear of being the ones whose playoff hopes are, as Coach Cattano puts it, damaged.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Providence

New Providence High School Presents The Addams Family -Tickets are Now On Sale

February 23, 2018

The Addams Family, who first came to life in the 1960s television series, will come back to life and take the stage at New Providence High School in March in a comedic musical twist on the classic story and characters.  Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Grandma, Fester, and Lurch, along with new characters and a full cast of Addams Ancestors will bring the creepy, kooky, all together ooky ...

Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains Prepares Gift Bags for Purim

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Volunteers from the Sisterhood of Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains prepared gift bags with masks, noisemakers, treats and traditional hamentashen cookies on Wednesday, Feb. 21. The gift bags will be delivered to the entire congregation before the Jewish holiday of Purim. 

Sixth and seventh-grade students in Congregation Beth Israel’s Religious ...

WFP Tax Partners Walks You Through 4 Step Tax Return Process

Over 80% of Tax Returns Have Errors or Missed Deductions. You're Probably Paying More Than Your Fair Share in Taxes

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Tax returns certainly give a clear picture of the past year, but WFP Tax Partners believes it's wise to strategize for the current year to have a plan for moving forward. 

At your tax appointment, they ...

Reminder: Free Wellness Program for Union County Military Women

All Union County women with military service – veterans, active duty and reserve – are invited to join “Boots 2 Heels,” a free event designed to foster wellness and connect women with resources and guidance for empowerment. Boots 2 Heels will be held on Saturday, February 24 at the Westfield Armory, located at 500 Rahway Avenue in Westfield.

The event is free but ...

CSA's 5th Annual Pasta Dinner Fundraiser Set for Sunday

Is everyone ready to come together as a community and break bread to support the CSA? It's time for The Community Service Association of New Providence's 5th Annual Pasta & Meatball Dinner! This fun, family-friendly event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the DeCorso Community Center, 15 East Fourth Street, New Providence. Pasta, meatballs, and dessert will be served from 3-7 ...

Caregiver Conference Sunday, Feb. 25, Focuses on Caregiver's Needs


Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, (JFSCNJ) a non-sectarian health and social service agency, will be hosting a Caregiver Conference called, “Caring for a Loved One While Being Mindful of Your Own Needs,” from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, Halpern Building, 655 Westfield Ave. Elizabeth.  

 The Conference, ...

Colleen Mahr Has Paid Her Dues, Earned Peoples’ Trust, and Left a Track Record of Success

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains ...

We Need More Women Like Colleen Mahr in Municipal, County and State Government

Dear Editor:

I’m proud to support Colleen Mahr for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee  (UCDC) and am encouraging my Scotch Plains peers to join me.

I was a first time candidate wanting to make a difference in my hometown of Scotch Plains, when Mayor Mahr of neighboring Fanwood stepped in to help me campaign and win my election to be Councilwoman three years ago.

Local Advisor Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Roth IRA

February 23, 2018

BASKING RIDGE, NJ - 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Roth IRA. First made available to American investors in 1998, a Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that is funded with after-tax dollars and provides tax-free growth and income for retirement.

In honor of this significant milestone, Walter Pardo, CEO/Certified Wealth Strategist at Wealth ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, February 23

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green


Fri, February 23, 8:00 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity with Kathy

Health & Wellness


Fri, February 23, 9:15 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

VInyasa Flow with Lauren

Health & Wellness


Fri, February 23, 10:30 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Pilates Reformer with Kathy

Health & Wellness


Fri, February 23, 12:00 PM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity with Kathy

Health & Wellness


Fri, February 23, 6:30 PM

Union County Vocational Technical Schools, West Hall Cafeteria, Scotch Plains

Union County Magnet High School Silent Auction

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

I've Always Wanted to be a Doctor...Or an English Teacher

Think about the impossibility of the task we lay in front of high school students.  In addition to getting good grades, filling up a resume, finding the right colleges and writing countless admissions essays they also need to decide on their life’s passion at 17 years old...or do they?

As a college admissions representative the first question most students would ask me was whether ...