Vol. LXI, No. 52
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)
FLOOR GAME: Princeton High junior guard Brian Dunlap looks for an opening in PHS’ 61-53 loss to Hightstown on December 18. Last Thursday, Dunlap chipped in 18 points and DeQuan Holman scored 20 as the Little Tigers topped Hopewell Valley 58-46 to improve to 2-1.
Brian Dunlap and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ basketball team turned a lot of heads in the season opener earlier this month at Lawrence High.
Coming off a 7-15 season, PHS started their 2007-8 campaign with a bang, bombing Lawrence 73-40.
Junior guard Dunlap was the top gun for the Little Tigers, pouring in a career-high 30 points, including five three-pointers.
With some in local hoops circles wondering if the victory was a fluke, PHS got a chance to prove it could play with the Colonial Valley Conference elite when it hosted defending county champion Hightstown on December 18.
With Dunlap triggering the attack, PHS got off to a solid start, battling the Rams tooth-and-nail in the first half. The teams headed to the dressing room at intermission with Hightstown clinging to a 26-24 lead.
After faltering a bit in the third quarter as Hightstown built a nine-point lead, PHS fought back valiantly in the fourth quarter. Utilizing its speed, the Little Tigers narrowed the Rams’ lead to 54-50 with two minutes remaining in regulation.
PHS ultimately succumbed as it fell 61-53 to the Rams. Dunlap ended the evening with 13 points while junior guard DeQuan Holman led the way for the Little Tigers with 24 points.
While Dunlap was happy with how PHS competed, he said the team isn’t looking for moral victories.
“I think we have proved that we are at least competitive with the other teams in the CVC,” said Dunlap. “We don’t want to compete, we want to win. We want to get to a point where can beat these teams.”
The up-tempo style PHS showed in the fourth quarter is the approach that can make the team into a winner.
“We picked up the pace a little bit,” said Dunlap. “We just tried to knock down some shots in the fourth quarter and we were able to do that. We went cold down the stretch a little bit and that hurt us.”
With last year’s backcourt mate Joe Rogers having transferred to Princeton Day School, Dunlap acknowledged that he has more responsibility this season.
“Joe is definitely a loss to the team, especially in terms of scoring,” said Dunlap.
“I’m trying to pick up my scoring which isn’t hard to do since I averaged three points a game last season. DeQuan Holman is definitely the scorer on this team. Against Lawrence, I was able to get some open looks and I was pleased with that. My role is to combine a little bit of both distributing and scoring.”
The team has collectively picked up things with new head coach Jason Carter at the helm.
“Coach Carter has brought a lot of intensity,” said Dunlap, who played for Carter on the freshman team when the coach headed that squad.
“It shows in our style of play; we try to force turnovers and use our speed to get things picking up.”
Coach Carter, for his part, thinks his team can pick up admirers if it builds on its promising start.
“One thing we have been saying in the huddle is respect,” said Carter, whose team improved to 2-1 with a 58-46 win at Hopewell Valley last Thursday as Holman scored 20 and Dunlap chipped in 18.
“The kids don’t feel like the other teams respect us. They don’t believe we are for real so every time we go on the court we’re looking for a little self-respect and respect from everyone else.”
In Carter’s view, the team earned some respect from Hightstown as it battled the Rams down to the final minute of the contest.
“We knew that we had to have a sense of urgency; Hightstown did a great job of handling the pressure we tried to put on them,” said Carter.
“We knew that we would have to play our best game to have a chance to stick with them and the guys did that. We game-planned for them and even though we didn’t come up with the win, I thought we did some really good things.”
Dunlap is certainly doing some good things for the Little Tigers in the early going.
“Brian definitely can shoot the three,” said Carter. “He’s stepping up for us. Junior year is a big year. He’s been able to perform for us; he’s done a good job.”
Junior guard Holman has also performed well, providing instant offense for PHS.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” asserted Carter, a 1996 PHS alum who was a three-sport star in football, basketball, and lacrosse during his high school days.
“He plays hard; he loves basketball. What we try to do is to give him the ball and have him create something for us.”
Carter acknowledges that PHS has to create more offense in the paint. “We haven’t game-planned to use our size to our advantage,” said Carter.
“We have a front line of 6’8, 6’4, and 6’3 and they didn’t have any height and they were still rebounding the ball.”
With its enthusiasm and desire for respect, PHS should be able to rebound from the setback against Hightstown.
“We are going to have some bumps and bruises along with some successes,” said Carter, whose team will be in action over the holidays when it plays in the William Allen Invitational on December 28 and 29.
“We’ve got to take it in stride. We can’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. After every game, we have to make sure it’s a learning experience.”
Dunlap, for his part, believes that PHS needs to fine-tune things a little bit in order to produce more highs than lows.
“I think we need to be a little more physical in grabbing rebounds,” said Dunlap.
“I think we need to get it out in transition a little more; that was our strength in the Lawrence game. We were able to get out and run our break a little bit. I think if we can do that, we’ll be able to get some wins.”
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