WEST CALDWELL-- After going a team record 0-11 to kick-off its current campaign, the boys basketball team from James Caldwell High School edged Waldwick, 67-56, on Saturday, Jan. 30, to record the Chiefs' first victory of the season.
In that outing, the locals were led by Caldwell's three senior tri-captains: Brad Banaszynski, Austin Scott and Noah Riggs.
Banaszynski racked-up 25 points, including 16 in the third quarter, to go along five rebounds and an assist, while Scott had 16 points, four assists, three steals and two boards. Riggs added 12 points, including eight in the third quarter, five boards and two thefts to his team's totals.
In addition, junior center Sean Kinney ripped down five rebounds and scored three points and junior Pete Vecchio, the Chiefs' top defender, held the 2-13 Warriors' top point producer, Riley Toolen, a senior who averages 16.5 points per game, to only five points.
Down, 16-9, early on and 26-23 at the half, JCHS outscored Waldwick 25-16 in the third quarter and 19-14 in the final frame to win the game by 11.
“The kids are working hard and, finally, we now have something tangible to show for it,” veteran mentor Mike Fess said. “We're taking small steps and I think we're finally starting to play smarter. Our kids are not only playing hard, but they're learning to direct their energies in the right places. While we are still very young and inexperienced, I really think they're beginning to get the idea.”
JCHS assistant coach Jeff Edwards, was very, very happy for both Fess and the players.
“Of course, I'm happy for the kids, who have been working so hard; but I'm absolutely thrilled for coach Fess, who has been keeping the kids focused and hasn't allowed them to get down on themselves,” Edwards said.
At the Essex County Tournament seeding meeting on Monday evening, Feb. 1, at Glen Ridge High School, the 1-11 JCHS boys reaped the 34th spot in a 36 team bracket, giving them an improbable home game against the 35th seed, 0-14 Science Park. That tussle which will be played on either Wednesday, Feb. 3, or Thursday, Feb. 4, in West Caldwell.
The survivor of that skirmish will advance to take on No. 11 Columbia (5-9) on or before Saturday, the 6th, with sixth-slotted East Orange Campus (10-5) looming as the eventual homestanding opponent in the round of 16 on or before Thursday, the 11th, in this part of the bracket.
First, though, JCHS is scheduled will travel to take on Nutley on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
“Nutley beat us by a lot (72-33) the first time we faced them and I think our guys are looking forward to seeing what they can do against them now,” Fess said.