Better days ahead for Parsippany

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Parsippany season review

Parsippany’s journey through its 9-15 campaign wasn’t an easy one. There was a new head coach hired late, a key player defection and an eight-game losing streak at midseason. However, from the struggle came success and the Red Hawks may emerge a much stronger program because of it.

Daryl Palmieri was an assistant coach at extremely successful programs in Linden and Millburn. His first job as a head coach was an eye-opener but near the end Parsippany showed signs of being the team he wanted them to be.

“We won six in a row to end the season then we lost to Newark Central in the states,’’ Palmieri said. “A player left us and it took us a couple of weeks to adjust. After it happened we started playing as a team. We came together after that.

Senior leadership: Parsippany had four seniors that were important by the finish. Michael Ross took on a leadership role and finished with a solid season. Matt Zolla started the season as a role player but became much more. “He ended up being one of our key guys,’’ Palmieri said. “He did a lot of the little things that don’t show up in the boxscore. He did everything solid.’’

Clayton Cerrato showed improvement as the year progressed. “He stepped into the center role and he competed,’’ Palmieri said. “Sometimes he was overmatched against players with more natural ability but he battled.’’ Kurt Welge also made some contributions off the bench for the Red Hawks.

Palmieri contends that if Mustapha Haruna was a junior this season, he would have been an All-County player in his senior year. “He hadn’t played much growing up (from the Philippines) so he played jayvee as a junior,’’ Palmieri said. “”He had trouble understanding some concepts. But he was one of the most athletic kids we had. He’s a raw talent.”

Highlights: There was no one game that Palmieri could point to as a highlight. He just reveled in the fact that by the end of the season his team became a cohesive and unselfish unit that learned to play together and finally achieved some confidence and success through hard work.

“When you thought it couldn’t get worse, we started to click and get up off the canvas,’’ Palmieri said. “That was the way we turned it on and made states.’’

Hope for the future: Parsippany has some returning players with promise. Palmieri thinks Corey Wallace could make a difference next year. “He stepped in as a sophomore and played the point,’’ Palmieri said. “He has a long way to go but the experience helped. His body strength and athletic ability stands out. He will be a key player next year.’’

Freshmen Lionel Chambers at forward and Leonard Lee also got some valuable varsity time and may be ready for expanded roles. Parsippany also has some size coming back with 6-foot-6 Kyle Tarobochia and 6-2 Tyler Cecere. They played key roles on a jayvee team that hovered around the .500 mark.

Offseason plans: The biggest difference of all may be that Palmieri wasn’t hired until last October, so his team had not played together at all except maybe on their own. “I couldn’t do anything with them and they didn’t do anything,’’ Palmieri said.

Now at least the players can get on the same page and work in some familiarity. Parsippany will hold regular open gyms over the summer and field a team in the Morris Knolls summer league. There is a possibility they will attend the FDU-Madison team camp, too.

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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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