Parsippany Breaks Losing Slump with 46-39 Triumph

By Mark Kitchin

 It’s never too late to get a winning streak started.

Mustapha “Yankie” Haruna scored 18 points and Michael Ross scored 15 points including seven in the fourth quarter to lift Parsippany to a 46-39 victory over Boonton in a make-up game held at Parsippany High on Monday.

Parsippany utilized full-court pressure in the fourth quarter to take control late in the contest. Jay Andriazola scored 17 points and Tracy Thomas chipped in 13 for Boonton. (2-13)  

Parsippany (5-13) had not claimed a victory since a January 14 win over Dover. The Red Hawks were on an eight game losing streak  and was hungry for something positive to happen.

Parsippany’s Clayton Cerrato jumps out at Boonton’s Tracy Thomas during Monday’s contest.

“It’s good for them,’’ Parsippany coach Daryl Palmieri said. “They’ve been working hard and the results haven’t necessarily been there. They come to work every day and keep pushing each other to get better. It’s nice to see some results. Hopefully we can build on this.’’

Ross, a senior captain, was one of the players who didn’t want to let another potential Red Hawks victory slip away.  

“We didn’t really play that good of a game,’’ Ross said. “It was finally good to come out on the winning end. We haven’t won in awhile if we can put together a couple of good games together we can get ready for states.’’

Overall it’s been a challenging season for the Red Hawks and their new coach. Palmieri was an assistant coach at Linden and Millburn high schools and has had minimal experience with a struggling varsity team. Palmieri wasn’t hired for the varsity coaching position until October and never had the chance to work with the team until the day after Thanksgiving. 

However, they got off to a promising 4-5 start before hitting their slump. When senior guard Peter Gonzalez left the team at the end of January, Parsippany was forced to adjust its lineup and make some changes.

“Pete was a big asset to the team,’’ Palmieri said. “I think (his departure) brought us closer as a family. All the shots he was taking, now we just work the ball around more to get better chemistry.’’

The Bombers have offensive weapons with Andriazola on the perimeter and Thomas an active and capable inside player. Much of the time it was Haruna’s job to deal with the taller Thomas after teammate Clayton Cerrato got some early fouls.

“Yankie usually always steps up and plays the best player on the other team,’’ Ross said. “He’s real quick on the defense. He has quick hands. He doesn’t get tired and so he plays good defense and contributes on the offense.’’

Boonton’s Earl Pasion dribbles away from Parsippany’s Mike Ross during Monday’s game.

Boonton had just broken a lengthy losing streak of its own against Dover on Saturday. Despite their record, the Bombers had their confidence up and at one point led 37-33 early in the fourth quarter. However, Parsippany rallied with a 13-2 run to finish the game. Much of the scoring came from turnovers off of full-court pressure.

“We haven’t pressed that much like that all year,’’ Palmieri said. “Maybe that’s something we should look at a little bit more. We mainly use a 2-2-1 zone press when we go full court. There we decided to do a little diamond and we caused their guards to throw the ball away a little. We did a nice job closing out the traps.’’

Down four, Ross responded with a 3-point shot from the left side of the arc with 5:28 to get it back to a one-point game.

“Mike’s a veteran,’’ Palmieri said. “The kids look up to him. You could see his frustration the last few games. I took him out for a little while (earlier in the game after a turnover) and let him cool down and I told him that we needed him to make plays. I’m glad I went back with him be cause he stepped up.’’

The teams exchanged scores with Thomas’ rebound and layup off an Andriazola miss with 4:20 left to make it 39-38. The Bombers were held scoreless the rest of the game.

The Red Hawks forced a few more turnovers by cornering and doubling the Bombers player that received the inbounds pass and aggressively playing the passing lanes.

A steal and a layup by Ross gave Parsippany the lead for good at 40-39. Cerrato’s layup off a Matt Zolla feed would make it a 3-point game with 1:30 left.  A steal and a layup by Haruna just seconds later made it 44-39.

The Bombers missed their last three shots from the field and Haruna knocked down a pair of free throws late to secure a much desired win.

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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