BLOOMFIELD, NJ – In an evenly matched contest between two SEC Liberty Division rivals, Bloomfield Boys Varsity Basketball survived a nail-biter to fend off Columbia Cougars 41-37 on Wednesday afternoon at Bloomfield High School.
The game took place 24 hours later than originally scheduled due to Tuesday’s snowstorm forced a postponement. The Bengals were anxious to defend their home court coming on the heels of suffering a first-round loss at the hands of West Side on Saturday in the Essex County Tournament.
The scored was knotted at 12 apiece after the first quarter. With some good ball movement and aggressive defense, Bloomfield outscored Columbia 13-4 in the second quarter to take a 25-16 lead into the locker-room at half time.
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The Cougars came out with an offensive flurry going on an 8-0 run and forced some timely Bloomfield turnovers to outscore the Bengals 13-4 in the third quarter to the game 29-29.
Bloomfield outscored Columbia 12-8 in the final frame to hang on for the four-point upset victory. Overall, the game saw five ties and five lead changes.
“Columbia is a difficult team to play but I think we had more heart at the end,” Bengals senior forward Will Robinson told TAP.
In their previous meeting this season, Columbia defeated Bloomfield 53-48 on January 15 in Maplewood. This measure of revenge was sweet for the Bengals.
“I think this game shows who we are as a team,” Bengals senior Michael Ramos told TAP. “They beat us last time, and today we were up 25-16 at halftime and they came storming back and we just stuck together as team and that really shows how our guys played and how we showed fight.”
With the win, the Bengals climb back to .500 overall at 11-11 and 5-6 in the division, while Columbia drops to 11-8 overall and 7-4 in the division.
Next up, Bloomfield battles high-powered Montclair at home on Thursday 4 pm at Bloomfield High School. The Mounties are 14-5 overall and 8-1 in the division, good for first place.
“These are our rivals, so I want to beat them as badly as everyone else on our team does,” said Ramos.
Robinson added, “We have to beat them, they beat us at their place so now we have to beat them at our place.”
Next week, the Bengals entertain Nutley on Tuesday, February 19, 7 pm at Bloomfield High School where the senior boys will be honored prior to their final regular season home game.
“It doesn’t get any easier, there is no break for our guys in our league and in Essex County,” Bengals Head Coach Michael Passero told TAP prior to tipoff. “Columbia and Montclair are the two best teams in our division and Nutley is another team that is getting hot right now winning seven of their last 10 games. We just have to bring our best effort every night, play hard and execute, and when we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance to be in those games.”
The Bengal boys are on the road for the first-round of the NJSIAA State Tournament on Monday, February 25, 6 pm against Bergen County Technical High School in Teterboro.
Bloomfield High School hosts the Group II State Semifinals on Wednesday, March 6 at 5 pm.