With Troy Jones Leading the Way in the Backcourt, NJ Spiritwear Produces 5-0 Start in Summer Hoops
By Bill Alden
N.J. Spiritwear emerged as a force last year in making its debut in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.
The squad advanced to the best-of-three championship series against Loyaltees and forced a decisive third game before falling 76-60.
Back for a second year in the league, Troy Jones and his teammates have benefited from having that season under their belts.
“We know everybody and we know how most people play, so it is not like we are coming in here blind,” said star guard Jones.
“We know who the shooters are and who can dribble and finish. We just know what they could do last year and use it to take away their strengths and work on their weaknesses.”
Last Monday evening at the Community Park courts, NJ Spiritwear utilized that savvy against Sakana, pulling away to a 56-50 win in a contest that was knotted at 25-25 at halftime.
“We were in a full court press in the beginning; it was working then they figured out how to break it,” said Jones.
“After that we went back to man and periodically switched defenses up. Defense and rebounding made the difference. They were killing us on the boards in the first half.”
Jones killed Sakana in the last minute, draining four straight free throws and hitting a key bucket as N.J. Spiritwear improved to 5-0.
“I didn’t want to lose this game, it was pretty close,” said Jones, who ended up with a team-high 13 points in the victory. “They kept scoring really fast, so I was ‘OK, I have to hit something.’”
While Jones was happy to step up down the stretch on Monday, he is looking to spread the wealth this summer.
“Last year, my role was score basically,” said the 6’0, 170-pound Jones, a former standout at Notre Dame High who is a redshirt junior on the East Stroudsburg University men’s hoops team.
“I feel this year I can facilitate more and scoring doesn’t have to come from me. We have the depth, I can rely on my teammates more this year.”
That depth will be tested next Monday evening when the first place Spiritwear team faces Loyaltees (4-1) in a title series rematch.
“That is my revenge game,” said Jones. “I am just ready to play. I have been waiting for them all season. It is going to be a good game.”