CHATHAM, NJ – The Millburn boys basketball team took the Cougar Classic by storm this past weekend. After beating Madison and tournament host Chatham, the Millers survived a strong third-quarter surge from New Providence, defeating the Pioneers, 53-41, at Chatham High School.
Millburn's Max Jacobs and Ben Kizel flourished against New Providence, scoring a combined 31 points in the Millers fifth victory of the year.
“I was worried that it was such a great win over Chatham on Saturday night, that it would be a slow start,” Millburn head coach Roger Blind said. “Fortunately, we were able to get it squared away.”
After falling behind, 7-0, in the opening minutes, Millburn closed out the first quarter on a 14-6 run, leading by one.
Kizel took control of the game in the second, scoring eight of his 12 points, to lead Millburn into the locker room with a 30-21 advantage.
In the third quarter, New Providence stormed back into the game. Jordan Morang led the ferocious comeback that saw Millburns’ 11-point lead dwindle to almost nothing.
“He’s a real battler,” New Providence head coach Art Cattano said. “He plays very hard all the time. He’ll do all the dirty work rebounding. He doesn’t look to score that much, but he’ll take his opportunities; if he does score for us, its’ definitely a plus.”
Morang scored seven of his team-high 13 points in the frame. Bryan Joyce added five of his own in the quarter, including two late free throws to pull New Providence within one, 38-37.
However, the Millers never allowed New Providence to tie or take the lead in the fourth. Strong defensive play led Millburn to allow only two baskets the entire final period, where the Millers outscored the Pioneers, 15-4.
“I just think there’s times where we’re not as patient as we should be,” Cattano said. “Whether we have the lead or are behind, we get our shots blocked or throw it away when they overplay us. All of a sudden they get a little run going and it’s a different story.”
Both teams will have a few days off before continuing conference play on Friday. New Providence hosts Oratory Prep at 7 p.m., while undefeated Millburn visits Caldwell.