MILLBURN, NJ – The Millburn Millers could not get anything going offensively against Newark Central on Tuesday afternoon at Millburn High School. They scored only 16 points in the first half and nine in the third quarter en route to a 68-43 loss.
One could not tell by the final score, but the Millers played solid basketball in the first couple of minutes of play. Right off the opening tip a nice pass to guard Benji Friedman resulted in a layup in transition. Russ Dorf then hit a jumper from the left side of the floor to put the Millers up 4-3.
After that possession, nothing went right for the Millers. Newark Central put together an 18-0 run in a span of about five minutes to effectively put the game out of reach.
The Millers had no answer for the inside game of Newark Central. Kamean McPleasant and Ramen Johnson combined for 13 points during their run. The Millers also had a number of turnovers and failed to control the offensive glass. They found themselves down 26-8 after the first eight minutes of play.
“We weren’t competitive. We didn’t fight on the boards,” Millers' Head Coach Rodger Blind said after the game. “When you’re not competitive in the effort category there’s really no strategy in the game.”
In the second quarter the Millers got two baskets from Friedman, one from center Tony Bai and two converted free throws from Russ Dorf. They only allowed nine points from the opposition, but still found themselves down 35-16 at halftime.
The second half was much of the same story. Newark Central outhustled the Millers to virtually every loose ball and were relentless underneath the basket. They put together an 8-0 run at the end of the third quarter. The Millers also continued to have a hard time breaking the Newark Central full court press and were down 51-25 at the end of the third quarter.
“There was a poor execution on our part. The biggest thing is we don’t make the proper reads,” Coach Blind said. “If you don’t make the right reads then (you’re) going to throw the ball away, which is what we did.”
The one bright spot for the Millers was the play of forward Brian Barkley. Coming off the bench, he scored eight points in a row for the Millers in the fourth quarter. He and Friedman finished with a team high ten points.
“He did score a couple of points. He can score. He’s got to work on other facets of his game,” Coach Blind said of Barkley.
The Millers are now 3-11 with Tuesday afternoon’s loss. Their next game is this Thursday, at Newark Academy at 4 p.m.