ROSELLE, NJ- The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders went out on the road to play in the second of a back-to-back, taking on the Roselle-Abraham Clark High School Rams, looking to build more momentum off their win Thursday night against Brearley HS.
A slow start doomed the Crusaders, who fell behind 13-3 after the first quarter and never recovered, losing to the Rams 56-39 Friday night in Roselle.
The Rams got off to a quick start, receiving offensive production from Samuel Noel (21 points), who scored eight points in the quarter alone. Wilard Nelson (12 points) and Jahed Muhammad each knocked in a basket for the home team. Johnson sophomore Tino Puentes provided a three-pointer for the lone basket of the quarter for Johnson.
As the second quarter started, Puentes nailed back-to-back shots to get Johnson within 15-8 with 6:09 left in the second quarter. After a Roselle basket from Noel, Hund got his team to within four points, draining a three-pointer. O’Connor knocked down a basket to get his team back to within two points, the score now 15-13 with 3:35 left in the second quarter.
Senior Marcos Castro responded with a three-pointer after another Roselle basket, the score now 17-16, but Roselle responded with a 7-0 scoring run to take a 24-16 lead going into halftime. As the third quarter started, the Rams would maintain control.
Quamir Martin (13 points) scored five points as the Rams outscored the Crusaders 11-9 in the third quarter, taking a 35-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Noel scored six points in the fourth quarter, while Brutus chipped in four points, while Muhammad added three more for the home team, as the Rams coasted to the win, outscoring Johnson 21-14 in the final quarter.
Johnson wasn’t quite able to counter Roselle on their offensive chances, as the teams split the season series.
After the game, Johnson turns their attention to the remaining schedule ahead of them.
“We want to be playing our best brand of basketball by the time we get to Manasquan. That’s the goal,” Johnson head coach Dave Kennedy said. “That’s what we’re hoping for. Today’s a little setback, but we have to clean things up and hopefully take care of it on the practice floor and take it to Scotch Plains and build on it from there.”
In the loss, Puentes led his team with 18 points, while senior Brandon Hund added eight points. Junior Matt O’Connor added six points for the Crusaders.
The Johnson Crusaders (7-14) have two more games in their regular season schedule. They head back out on the road to play at Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m., before returning home to conclude it with a home game against Middlesex HS Thursday night at 5:30 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to these next two games,” Puentes said. “A lot of teams see these end-of-season games as, ‘What’s the point? The season, it’s over in a bit,’ but not for me and my teammates and me. We’re locked in and getting ready for Manasquan and these next few games.”