Senior Captain Rougas Goes Out Battling Hard As PHS Boys’ Hoops Falls to Freehold in States
PASSING IT ON: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Brendan Rougas, left, passes the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, senior guard and team captain Rougas scored a game-high 15 points as 14th-seeded PHS fell 60-50 at third-seeded Freehold in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional. The loss left the Tigers with a final record of 12-14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Brendan Rougas experienced mixed emotions, soaking in the scene as the Princeton High boys’ basketball team held its annual Senior Night ceremony last Thursday evening before hosting Morristown High.
“It was my final home game ever; it is very sad but also exciting, I am heading to a new chapter in my life,” said Rougas.
“I just want to thank our fans, from the time I was a freshman and then on JV and both years on varsity, we have had the best crowd in the CVC.”
With PHS falling behind Morristown in the fourth quarter, Rougas gave the fans something to cheer about, scoring seven points down the stretch as the Tigers battled hard before falling 54-49.
“We fought down the stretch, that is a good sign for our states game but honestly I don’t want to be in that situation,” said Rougas, who totaled nine points on the evening.
“I want to be up the whole game and just be in a position to win all the time. We didn’t come out with our best stuff today and we ended up losing the game.”
While PHS ended up losing its state game as the 14th-seeded Tigers fell 60-50 at third-seeded Freehold last Monday in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional, the squad won a lot more games this season than in 2017-18, going 12-14 after winning four games (4-21) last winter.
“Two sophomores came up and played big minutes for us in Tim Evidente and Ethan Guy; they did a great job for us,” said Rougas, who scored a game-high 15 points against Freehold.
“Jay Jackson emerged as our top scorer this season, he has been extremely productive. Gefen Bar Cohen has been very good, a great three-point shooter.”
Rougas is leaving with good memories of playing with his classmates, Jaylen Johnson, Jack McMahon, Tyler De Lalinde, and Evan Filion.
“I have been playing with them for four years so obviously we are very close,” said Rougas, who served as team captain this winter. “I love those guys; it has been a treat playing with those guys.”
PHS head coach Pat Noone has loved coaching his Class of 2019. “They have done a great job for us, you saw what happened last year and to come back with that resiliency to give us a season like we had this year, it is an unbelievable group,” said Noone.
“It is going to be really tough to see them go. They are hard workers, they come in every day and they set the tone of how we want the program to be and they have done a great job with that.”
Noone believes the PHS program made great strides this winter. “They all came in with an unbelievable focus and a competitive edge,” said Noone.
“They have made plays down the stretch of games, they are just a great group all together. A majority of them were here last year so a lot of them could have quit or be selfish but they really decided to turn the ship around and they have done a great job.”
Looking ahead to the sectional matchup against Freehold, Noone knew his squad faced a major challenge.
“Freehold is great, they are unbelievable,” said Noone. “It is going to be really tough but it is going to be fun. States is always fun, you never know what is going to happen.”
Rougas, for his part, was fired up to end his PHS hoops career in the state tourney. “It is a great honor because last year we didn’t qualify for the states,” said Rougas. “This year we did so I am very excited about that.”