Morris All-Stars are ready to play

By Mark Kitchin


 Morristown’s James Pisciotto stretched his arms out for the high fives that often come after hitting a scrimmage game-winning shot. He would’ve made a lot of friends on the basketball court if he didn’t know most of the people in the gym already.

Long after most of the basketballs have been deflated and put away for next winter, 14 area players were in the Roxbury gym getting a final basketball practice in on Monday. They are the members of the Morris team in the Morris-Sussex Senior All-Star game that is scheduled to play this Wednesday at Hopatcong High School in a 7 p.m. start weather permitting.

Morris players that have agreed to compete in the season-ending exhibition include: Morris County Player of the Year Mendham’s Tore Vicarisi, Roxbury’s Angelo Mangiro and Shaun O’Donnell, West Morris’ James D’Angelo and Tom Cabarle, Kinnelon’s Matt Mondello, Madison’s Aaron Fant and Jake Meister, Mountain Lakes’ Jimmy Boyhan, Pequannock’s Stephen Boyd and Joe Vedovino, Delbarton’s Dean Brierley, Mount Olive’s Elvis Hodzic and Pisciotto.

The Sussex contingent includes: Hopatcong’s Matt Tobin, Wallkill Valley’s Keith Yearwood, High Point’s Nick Boyle and Alex LaFranco, Lenape Valley’s Ryan Newson and Brian Kreuder, Pope John’s Tommy Breslin, Ryan Krueger and Tyler Sabino, Vernon’s Michael Cooper, Travis Eustace and Rhett Moroses, Sparta’s Nick DiSomma, Hackettstown’s James Peterson and Kittatinny’s Josh Brucker.

If the game is called because of bad weather, it will be rescheduled for next Monday.

West Morris’ James D’Angelo dribbles the ball past Madison’s Aaron Fant during Monday’s practice.

Morris coach Jon Deeb hopes that doesn’t happen. On Monday the object of the practice was to give the players an opportunity to work together.

“We are just going to try to get used to each other a little bit,’’ Deeb said. “We’ll make teams and go up and down the court and play basketball and get a feel for each other and build a little bit of chemistry before Wednesday night. Mostly it is just to get to know each other, have some fun and become a little bit familiar.’’

Deeb has talked to past coaches that have been involved with the games — including this year’s assistants Madison’s Billy Librera and Kinnelon’s Sean Rivers — on the best way to put the team together. Last year the Morris team won the exhibition with the help of a terrific performance by Jefferson’s Gavin McCarney. As always the emphasis will be on just having a good time. After some drills, much of the Monday practice was spent on scrimmaging with teams of five.

“We’ll see who fits well together and that will help us with substituting,’’ said Deeb, who won his 100th career game at Roxbury this year. “You want to get everyone in and you want to get the kids that played together during the year out on the court one last time. Those things will drive some of the substitutions. We’re not throwing in one play to run. We will just let them go.’’

West Morris’ Tom Cabarle shoots the ball over Madison’s Jake Meister during Monday’s practice.

Pisciotto, like some of the players, appeared late because of baseball practice but proved that he will be able to pick up where he left off. He knew many of the people on his team by either playing with or against them at one time or another.

“I didn’t even know I won it when I shot it but that’s what they told me,’’ Pisciotto said of his marksmanship. “It is really weird how we’ve been going at each other and then all of  a sudden we’re playing together but I’ve been playing with some of these guys for a long time.’’

Brierley, D’Angelo and Vicarisi are among the players that Pisciotto has been on teams with at one time or another. The Morristown shooting guard plans on continuing his basketball career at Montclair State.

“I’ve known Aaron and Jake for few years,’’ Pisciotto said. “I’ve known some of these guys so it is great to finally get together.’’

Boyhan, the Lakers point guard, didn’t know much about the event but thought it would be a good opportunity to have some fun.

“I haven’t really played against any of them but I’ve heard about all these guys,’’ Boyhan said. “They are all good players. I’m looking forward to playing with them. It’s not a big pressure game. There are no expectations. It’s all going to be for fun.’’

There is a certain sadness to the event since it will be the last time the competing players will wear their high school basketball uniform on the court. Some of them will compete collegiately in other sports and leave their competitive basketball to recreational leagues or shooting around with friends instead of in an organized setting with cheering spectators. A lucky few will continue on the collegiate level.

“It’s not the end, it’s more like a new beginning,’’ Pisciotto said. “It’s a little sad only because you are leaving this behind and it is the last time I’ll be wearing the uniform that I’ve been wearing for a couple of years. It’s a little sad but it’s just another benchmark in your life. You are moving on to something else.’’


About mcvbb

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

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