CLIFTON A championship basketball season may be close at hand for the Passaic Pirates, a seventh- and eighth-grade division team in the North Jersey YM-YWHA/JCCP league. Sweeping past the Wayne Corsairs, 5′-34, in Sunday’s semi-final, the team brought its record to 8-0 before the season’s final tip-off with the Paramus JCC team on March 18.
Playing on the host court at the Clifton YM-YWHA, the Passaic Pirates ended their winning season with relative ease in the playoff game against their North Jersey YM-YWHA Corsair opponent. The Pirates took the lead at the outset and were never overtaken, in spite of a Corsair rally in the second half. It was a decisive win, and Corsair coach Bart Lancia knew it would be a difficult game for his youngsters.
From left, Wayne coach Bart Lancia and team captain Dondre Shivers share a moment with Passaic team captain Ruven Roth and coach Bob Roth. KEN HILFMAN PHOTO
"With a season record of 5-7, we have our work cut out for us," Lancia said as his crew practiced shooting baskets before the match. "All I ask is that our kids do their best. It won’t be easy against the best team in the league, but we’ll see what happens."
Bob Roth, the Passaic coach, had hoped his boys would make it to the championship game. "I started this team four years ago," he said. "The league plays only on Sundays, which fits us like a glove. All our boys have a rigorous religious and secular yeshiva program."
Roth prides himself on the work he does with the team. "It’s organized, and the 13-year-olds have respect for their opponents and the referees, who are professionals. We build character and instill a feeling of friendship and caring." Roth added that high scorer for the game was Moshe Berman; the MVP was Moshe Beitler.
Beitler’s father, Gary, attended the game, as did many other parents. He had high praise for Roth’s work with the team. "Under his direction, the boys are fabulous, and he’s doing a fantastic job . He teaches them to behave on the court and to be menschen. At the end of the day, that’s very important."
The afternoon’s program had been billed as a semi-final double-header between Passaic-Wayne and Paramus-Clifton. A last-minute change moved the second game to the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, the team’s home court.
Yudi Davis, the Clifton Y coach, reported, "We lost the semi-final game, 59-53, which means we’re out of it, and the Paramus JCC team will meet the Passaic Pirates for the championship of their division of the league at the North Jersey YM-YWHA in Wayne next Sunday."
Davis said he is proud of his team and looks forward to next year’s schedule. "I’ve had this team for three years," he said, "and the boys have grown in many ways. I teach them all about basketball, and many other life lessons, as well."
Davis had high praise for several team members, citing Eli Davis, most valuable player, Josh Herzfeld, high scorer, and Matt Spector, "who’s fast and quick as a fox. I could not be happier with the kids I have."
Paramus coach Marc Sapin has been with his team for the past three years. He said, "They’re all in the eighth grade now, and we play Passaic on Sunday for the championship . Our record is 6-‘. We lost to Passaic twice, once by one point."
With Keith Bosworth as the MVP as well as the high scorer, the 59-53 Paramus win over Clifton last Sunday proved to be a good warm-up for the team. Said Sapin of playing against Passaic for the third time, "This time we’ll be ready for them."
The time for the championship game at the Wayne Y had not been announced by press time.