PHS Boys’ Hoops Rallies to Beat WW/P-S; Giving It Confidence for Challenges Ahead
It looked like the Princeton High boys’ basketball team was headed to a 0-2 start as it played at WW/P-S on December 22.
After falling 67-55 to Hamilton in its season opener three days earlier, PHS found itself down by nine points in the third quarter against the Pirates.
But sticking with its man-to-man defense and making some clutch plays on the offensive, PHS clawed back and pulled out a 75-71 victory.
“What I liked is that we played man almost the whole game; sometimes we play zone or trap, especially when we get down,” said PHS head coach Mark Shelley.
“We stayed the course; we played solid man. We made some big shots to make it close early in the fourth quarter and then we had another big run to take the lead.”
The one-two punch of senior Kevin Kane and junior Matt Hart led the way as Kane poured in a game-high 27 points and Hart chipped in 17.
“Kane had a big game,” said Shelley. “When a team presses us, we put Kevin in the corner. He is really good at driving on the baseline. He was drawing foul after foul against South. Hart was a little off, his shots weren’t falling but he didn’t get selfish.”
When Hart scored 27 in the opening day loss to Hamilton and Kane added 15 but nobody else had more than five, Shelley called for others to help carry the offensive load.
“After the game, we talked about a couple of years ago when Lior (Levy) and Scotty (Bechler) would score 20 points and nobody else scored in double figures we would lose,” said Shelley. “We need a third person in double figures, that means that the ball is moving better.”
Against WW/P-S, sophomore forward Zahrion Blue proved to be that vital third option, tallying 11 points.
Blue, though, wasn’t the only member of PHS’s supporting cast who came up big in the victory over the Pirates.
“We got a lot of good contributions,” asserted Shelley. “John Morelli hit a 3 to give us the lead. They were playing back in the zone and he pulled up at the top of the key. Sam Serxner played a stretch of good defense. Tad and Tommy Moore each had six points and were active on the boards.”
With PHS playing at Hillsborough on January 3 before hosting Morristown on January 5 and Ewing on January 6, Shelley is hoping his team can build on its effort against WW/P-S.
“I am so proud of the boys,” said Shelley. “Every win is a confidence builder but to win on the road against a strong team and come from nine down in the third quarter and staying the course is great. We hadn’t beat South in five or six years. They are very good and they are always a very good shooting team. Going into their gym, especially after losing the first game, was tough. We have five tough games to start and we needed to get a win somewhere.”