Lifted by Clutch Performance from Senior Star Dublin, PDS Boys’ Hoops Edges Nottingham, Moves to 2-0
HAIR-RAISING EXPERIENCE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Jaden Dublin, right, dribbles past a defender last Saturday against Nottingham. Senior guard Dublin scored a team-high 16 points in the contest to help PDS edge the Northstars 64-62 and improve to 2-0. In upcoming action, PDS will be competing in the South Hunterdon tournament from December 27-28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It took Jaden Dublin a while to get acclimated when he joined the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team last winter as a junior.
“I transferred in, so I didn’t play many games,” said Dublin. “I had to wait 30 days.”
Coming into this winter, Dublin had a much greater comfort level.
“Starting off this season, being able to play, it just shows,” said Dublin. “This offseason, I put in a lot of work. I was in the gym every day with my team — we did hours in and hours out.”
Dublin’s work showed last Saturday as PDS held off a furious rally by visiting Nottingham to pull out a 64-62 win over the Northstars.
“We just wanted to come out and be resilient and be strong,” said Dublin, who had tallied a team-high 16 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. “We know this is going to be a tougher team that we are playing, so we just have to be strong. Last year, our record wasn’t too good. This year we have a different mindset.”
PDS got off to a strong start, jumping out to an 18-12 lead in the first quarter and taking a 36-27 advantage into halftime.
“It definitely builds confidence in our team,” said Dublin, who had scored 19 points in a 60-48 win over WW/P-North last Thursday in the season opener. “We just want to be able to survive the first couple of punches that the team throws. Doing that keeps us strong and levelheaded.”
With Nottingham having taken a 62-61 lead in the last minute of the contest, Dublin raced in for a layup to put the Panthers ahead 63-62, and later added a free throw to provide the final margin of victory.
“It is just knowing that my teammates are going to back me up whatever I do,” said Dublin, reflecting on his late heroics. “It allows me to play confident and trust my abilities, and also trust my team.”
Settling in with the PDS program, Dublin is taking a key role with the squad.
“I feel like I am the heartbeat of the team as a leader,” said Dublin. “Even if we are not playing our best, I feel like it is my responsibility to weather that and keep us levelheaded.”
Developing a deep bond with fellow senior guard Jaden Hall has helped Dublin’s emergence as a leader.
“Jaden Hall is my boy; we work out all of the time, we are always texting,” said Dublin of Hall. “It is like he is my brother, on and off the court. The connection really shows for everybody else. It just reflects how many hours we put in.”
PDS head coach Eugene Burroughs likes the game Dublin has been showing in the early going.
“Jaden has been great and I think he still has even more room to grow,” said Burroughs. “The more he plays, the more confident he will be and the better plays he will make. He is just unleashing the potential of where can be at the end of the season. He is a strong kid, a tough kid. His plays at the rim are great and he is finding his teammates. You can see his speed with the basketball.”
Burroughs was proud of the mental toughness his squad displayed in holding off the Northstars.
“It was a great early test for us, we are trying to build that scrappy mentality,” said Burroughs. “It was a physical game, it was an aggressive game. For this team to be able to compete at that level just shows the switch mentally that we have been trying to instill in them as basketball players.”
In starting 2-0, PDS has made strides at the offensive end of the court.
“One of our themes this year is moving the basketball,” said Burroughs. “I think we have some skilled players. We move the ball and share it. We have some kids who can shoot the basketball. We have been scoring the ball which last year we struggled to do.”
In the win over Nottingham, the Panthers showed balance as Hall scored 15 points with sophomore Adam Stewart adding 11 and freshman Jordan Owens contributing 12.
“Jaden Hall played right through a hand injury, it is another step for him,” said Burroughs. “He just has so much more in him; he has been great. Adam did some great things for us with some nice drives and big plays. He is still growing. He is a young player and he hasn’t scratched the surface of where he is going to be by the end of the season. Jordan is a great complement to this older group, they make his job a little easier. He can shoot the basketball and he is confident.”
Burroughs sees the performance against Nottingham as a confidence builder for the his squad.
“I am happy for that group; it was a big win for us to see the progression of our program and for this team to believe and fight and scratch,” said Burroughs. “I am excited for them and they should be excited. Every game for us is a championship game. That is our mentality.”
With PDS competing in the South Hunterdon tournament from December 27-28, Burroughs is looking to see his team’s mentality when it runs into some adversity.
“I want to keep them levelheaded to understand each game is different and each game you have to grow on; that was game one, this is game two,” said Burroughs. “There are going be some bumps in the road — so what do you do then? For them to win down the stretch, those are signs of potentially a good team that can find ways to win. When they go up one and you come back and make a play, get a lay-up, and get a stop. We are OK, the next level for us is to be good. All of those things help move you one step closer to us to being good. I don’t think we are there yet.”
Dublin believes that the Panthers will keep taking steps forward.
“Just going on, we have to keep being humble,” said Dublin. “We have to keep being resilient — stay strong and the wins are going to come. Winning a game like this, especially at our place, keeps us rolling into the next couple of games and having some momentum.”