Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
 
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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GETTING THE POINT: Princeton High boys’ basketball star DeQuan Holman dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, Holman chipped in 11 points but it wasn’t enough as second-seeded PHS fell 53-48 to No. 2 Pennington in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. PHS, now 16-6, will now compete in the Central Jersey Group III sectional where it is seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Point Pleasant Boro on March 5.

PHS Boys’ Hoops Falls in MCT Semis, Heads to Point Pleasant for State Opener

Bill Alden

In the early going last Wednesday, it looked like the Princeton High boys’ basketball team might get blown out by Pennington as the squads met in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

Early in the second quarter, second-seeded PHS trailed No. 3 Pennington 17-6 and looked out of synch.

But showing the scrappiness that has made them one of the top teams in the area, the Little Tigers caught up with the Red Raiders and took a 20-19 lead into halftime.

After intermission, the teams went back and forth as the contest turned into a nailbiter. But with Pennington executing a little better down the stretch, the Red Raiders pulled out a 53-48 win.

In reflecting on the setback, PHS head coach Jason Carter acknowledged that his team’s furious rally may have left it sapped in crunch time.

“We dug ourselves a hole; it forced us to battle back and play from behind,” said Carter, whose team dropped to 16-6 with the loss to eventual county champion Pennington.

“Once we evened the score up, I thought we played well. The effort it took us to come back may have caused us to run out of gas.”

The Little Tigers got a superb effort from sharpshooting senior guard Brian Dunlap in a losing cause as he fired in a game-high 20 points.

“I thought he played great,” said Carter of Dunlap. “He works hard everyday. He puts his body through stress and reps and it is there when he needs it. His body is used to performing at a high level.”

While PHS has played at a high level through much of the season, Carter doesn’t believe his team has quite fired on all cylinders.

“We have been progressing, we have been learning but we haven’t put it all together,” said Carter.

“We have had games where we had great defense; we have executed the offense well in other games. In some games, we have gotten good contributions off the bench. But we haven’t had a game where we have had all of that at the same time.”

With PHS starting play in the Central Jersey Group III sectional where it was seeded fifth and will play No. 4 Point Pleasant Boro on March 5, Carter knows that the Little Tigers will need to produce a total team effort to advance.

“They are like most of the good teams that have beaten us,” said Carter, who has scouted Point Pleasant twice.

“Their big guys are aggressive; they don’t make many mistakes and they change their defenses. We will have to recognize each situation. They play hard to the end. In our six losses, we didn’t keep our composure in the last few minutes.”

In Carter’s view, his players have the wherewithal to keep their heads under the pressure of state tournament competition.

“We are a hungry team,” asserted Carter. “We have had some setbacks. It’s always a challenge after you lose a close one; you have to have courage. It takes character to come back. I think we have a lot of character guys.”

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