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Ricci takes reins at Haddon Heights

He previously coached 11 seasons for two other Colonial Conference boys' basketball teams.

Mike Ricci isn't trying to coach every boys' basketball team in the Colonial Conference.

It just seems that way.

On Tuesday night, Ricci was named the head coach at Haddon Heights; he has also served as the head coach at two other Colonial schools, Paulsboro and Gateway.

"I'm excited about Mike being here," Heights athletic director Joe Cramp said. "At the interview, he really had a well-planned blueprint to take our team to the next level."

Ricci replaces Butch McLean, whose teams went 136-169 in 12 seasons.

"Haddon Heights has had a good program over the years, and we're trying to reestablish it," Cramp said. "Mike has a passion and a drive to succeed; he wants to develop a family atmosphere and bring back the alumni and [teach the players] the history of Haddon Heights basketball."

Coaching at Heights will be convenient for Ricci, who lives across the street from the high school.

"When you interview someone, you look for someone who is not just a head of the team, but a head of the program - and I feel he'll do that with the alumni and the youth and the coaches and parents in the community," Cramp said.

Ricci was 131-78 in eight years at Paulsboro, including a state title, and 15-63 in the last three seasons at Gateway. He spent two seasons as a Heights assistant before getting the Gateway job.

"I'm excited for the opportunity," said Ricci, 37, a sales representative for a telecommunication company, "This is definitely the last stop for me. I'm coaching in my hometown and have ties to the community, and I'm fortunate to get the chance to coach in a place where I have relationships with the town. I hope to be here a long time."

Ricci said that Pervis "Never Nervous" Ellison, who helped lead Louisville to the NCAA title in 1986 and lives in South Jersey, will assist Heights with its off-season workouts. Ellison had an 11-year NBA career that ended in 2001.

Coaching carousel.

Heights is one of four Colonial schools that will have new coaches next year. The others: Gateway, Woodbury and Sterling.

Tom Bowe has stepped down at Woodbury for personal reasons, and Bill Hiltner is retiring at Sterling.