Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHORT CIRCUIT: Princeton High boys’ basketball star Eric Shorter heads to the hoop in recent action. Last week, junior guard Shorter scored a team-high nine points to help PHS top Robbinsville 37-30.

Shorter Providing Athleticism, Toughness, As PHS Boys’ Hoops Aims for Consistency

Bill Alden

Eric Shorter gained some important lessons in perseverance this past fall, starring as a receiver for a Princeton High football team that went 0-10.

“It is a mental state; not getting a win builds mental toughness,” said the 6’0, 170 pound Shorter, a consistent bright spot for the Little Tigers who had 27 receptions for 525 yards and four touchdowns. “It helps me be more aggressive but also stay composed.”

With winter rolling around and junior Shorter standing out as a guard for the PHS boys’ basketball team, he is utilizing that hard-earned mental toughness.

A case in point came last week when PHS limped into halftime clinging to a 15-12 lead against visiting Robbinsville after starting the game with a 11-0 run.

“The halftime message was that they are a tough team and they are not going to let up,” recalled Shorter. “They are going to play hard so we have to play more aggressively.”

Shorter took those words to heart in the third quarter, coming up with some key steals and converting two of them into crowd-pleasing dunks as PHS seized the momentum of the contest by outscoring the Ravens 7-2 in the quarter.

“They were more into space pass so I tried to read their eyes and see where they were going,” said Shorter, who had five points in the quarter.

“It was a boost for the team; they like it when I dunk so it gives them confidence.”

In the fourth quarter, the Little Tigers displayed an all-around team effort as they held off the Ravens to earn a 37-30 triumph.

“They came back during the fourth quarter and we tried to hold them off as a team,” said Shorter, who ended the evening with a team-high nine points.

“Eamon Cuddy stepped up and so did Davon [Holliday-Black]. Scott Bechler made some clutch free throws; everyone contributed.”

Shorter is looking to contribute some leadership this winter to go along with his aggressiveness and athleticism.

“I have improved in ball handling and my court vision in terms of how to read what goes on,” added Shorter. “I try to keep my head better and stay focused and try to get over the adversity.”

PHS head coach Jason Carter appreciates what he has been getting from Shorter this season.

“Eric has been carrying the load for us,” said Carter. “He’s carrying over from the football season; he is a competitive guy. He’s explosive and can make plays.”

While Carter was happy to see his team jump out to the early lead against Robbinsville, he didn’t like how it competed in the second quarter.

“I think when we got off to an 11-0 start that maybe we got a little comfortable and complacent,” said Carter, whose team fell to 5-7 with a 44-42 loss at Hamilton last Friday. “We thought the rest of the game was going to be that easy.”

With the Little Tigers showing a penchant for inconsistent play, things haven’t come easy for PHS this winter.

“It’s a growing process, I am learning who to play, when and where, and what combination of guys works well,” said Carter, whose club hosts Ewing on January 28 before playing at WW/P-S on February 1.

“I have to figure out, depending on the matchups, can we put this group of guys out there and can they run this type of system. It has been a coaching challenge.”

Senior center Eamon Cuddy has been facing some new challenges as teams have been keying on stopping the 6’7 center who has been averaging more than 14 points a game.

“Last year, he was a junior and no one knew about him,” said Carter. “Now, he’s the only senior and he’s in the scoring leaders so the guys are all over him. How do you defend a 6’7 guy who can shoot? They double team him early so that is an adjustment he has to make. He has to become a better passer and we have got to be able read the double team and find the open guy.”

Sophomore guard Scott Bechler has proven adept at finding the open guy from his point guard spot.

“Scott has been coming around for us; I thought he played really strong in the Trenton game,” said Carter.

“He has been doing a great job of handling the ball and the pressure. He’s poised. He was able to knock down some important foul shots tonight. If he misses those, maybe that game is a little bit closer.”

While Carter would like to see more consistency from his club, he believes his players possess the right mindset to come around down the stretch drive.

“I really like this team; I really like the attitude,” said Carter. “They come to practice everyday and work hard. They aren’t sulking.”

Shorter, for his part, believes the Little Tigers just need to come together a little more to find a rhythm.

“We need to play more as a team to get that consistency,” said Shorter. “We need to stay focused.”

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