As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Roselle Catholic High School, the school ran an online voting contest for the 50 Golden Moments in the school’s sports history. It was no surprise that the 1963 North Jersey State “A” Basketball Championship was voted the number “Golden Moment” in the school’s history.
The 1963 team also scored upsets against #1 team in the state, St. Mary’s of Elizabeth in the Union County semi-finals and Seton Hall in the state North semi-finals. Roselle Catholic has had their share of basketball triumphs, but that was the last state championship for the school’s hoops program.
Second year boys coach Dave Boff knows the school’s rich tradition and is looking to make his make on the school sport’s history. Last year, Boff took over for a Union County coaching legend when Pat Hagan stepped down after 28 years. Boff had a successful three-year coaching run for the Governor Livingston’s girl’s team before coming to Roselle Catholic.
Last year’s team had all the ingredients to qualify for the post season. The senior-dominated team had a good scorer in Matt Henn. The coaching transition was not a smooth one at first, but the Lions started to win games late in the season and just missed the state cutoff. They finished with a 12-11 record.
Only one starter, Senior Ryan Sullivan, returns for the 2008-09 season, but Boff has a lot of young players stepping up to the varsity level. “It’s going to be a group effort for this year’s team,” he said.
Junior Gjon Vuckedah (6’6”) will be the big man in the middle coming up from the JV team. Steve Morgan will be running the point. Juniors Brian Petrozelli and Rich Ferriera will play both the two and the three. Seniors Mark Aime, Conner Laverty, and Tim Henn will be coming off the bench for the Lions.
The Lions are going to play a different style than the flex that Hagan ran as a staple at the Roselle school. “We are going to extend our defense and try to score a little more,” said Boff.
With a full year under his belt at, Boff is putting together a successful program. He had the Lions playing in the Elizabeth Summer League and sent the team to the Rider University Basketball Camp, where the team had a good showing. The Lions JV team went 8-1 and lost in the camp championship. “I was real excited about how we played this summer,” said Boff. The JV team was led by 6’6” incoming freshman Jameel Warnui and guard Dominic Gonzalez.
Boff played at Governor Livingston and Susquehanna University. He also had stops at Keystone and Lackawanna Junior College and learned a lot of his coaching style as an assistant under current Rider University head coach Tom Dempsey. Dempsey led Rider to 23 wins last year and his program produced a first round draft pick, Jason Thompson.
Roselle Catholic plays in the Mountain Valley Conference and Boff thinks that the league is “up of grabs.” “Rahway and Roselle were clearly the best teams last year and have lost a lot of players to graduation,” Boff said. “With the bottom of the league’s teams improving the league will be very competitive.”
As far as next year’s realignment, he said, “I think it only affected one conference in the state.” This will be the last year for both the Mountain Valley Conference and the Watchung Conference, the two conferences that include most of the Union County schools. “I think we have a good two-tier system in Union County with the two conferences,” Boff said.
Summit left the Watchung Conference several years ago and is pretty happy with their current situation, but they will have to return to the new Union County Conference that is going to be formed. Powerhouse St. Pat’s that plays an independent schedule will be part of the new conference. “Teams are happy that St. Pat’s still participates in the county tournament and they go up against them,” the coach said.
Boff admits that a lot has to be sorted out and the meetings that he attended have been positive. Until then, Roselle Catholic will compete and win the last year of the Mountain Valley Conference, said a confident coach.
Check out the rest of the 50 Golden moments at www.rosellecatholic.org
Jim Whelan can be reached at email@example.com
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