MAPLEWOOD, NJ - David Runcie's 25-point performance led Columbia High School to its third consecutive boys basketball victory, 65-50, over Shabazz on Thursday night.
Runcie set the tone early, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter of the game to give the Cougars a 15-8 advantage after one.
"When we play unselfish basketball, we're at our best," Runcie said. "When we're passing, we win games like this and that's the reason we won by 15 today."
The Bulldogs responded in the second quarter, hitting four triples of their own. Eric Moore led the surge with three 3-pointers to bring Shabazz within three points at the break. Moore finished with 15 points in the contest.
The Bulldogs’ Malik Toppin and Demetrius Moore made their presence known down low, as they dominated the paint in the second quarter. Toppin had nine points in the quarter and finished with 15.
David's brother, Mike Runcie, broke out in the second half, but ran into foul trouble late in the third quarter, sidelining him for the remainder of the game. He still finished with 19 points.
With Mike, the team's second leading scorer, out of the game, Robert Gordon took on the workload and scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
"We brought in one of our best defenders in Ant (Starzynski) so we didn't mind him coming in and taking Mike's spot," Gordon said. "He really stepped up at the end of the game."
Shabazz made a final push in the fourth quarter when they went on an 8-2 scoring run to get within 4 points, but the Cougars stood their ground and continued to play unselfish basketball to get their shots and come away with the win.
“Me and Robert had to take more responsibility,” David said about Mike fouling out. “We did a good job of handling the ball, and I think that's why we won.”
The Cougars' next challenge comes on Saturday when they will look to advance in the Essex County Tournament. They host Newark Vocational High School in the quarterfinals at 3 p.m.
"We just need to play better defense, rebound and push the ball," Gordon said about the team's next game.