MILLBURN, N.J. - On the back of four consecutive 3-pointers to open the third quarter, the Millburn boys' basketball team defeated rival Livingston, 51-33, during Saturday's 1st Annual Joe Valentine Classic held at Millburn High School.
The main gym in Millburn was packed with fans cheering on the local rivalry and supporting one of their own. Joe Valentine, a 1989 Livingston graduate and current Millburn teacher was diagnosed with cancer in 2009.
Despite being on medical leave from the district, administrators and teachers put together the event to collect proceeds for Valentine's family.
Millburn head coach Rodger Blind said: "Its a great day for a great cause."
Wearing bright orange shoe laces, Valentine's favorite color, Millburn and Livingston opened the game in an offensive stalemate. Neither side was able to get their offense flowing in the first quarter except for Lancer senior Robby Lefkowitz.
Lefkowitz scored four of Livingston's five points in the opening quarter to lead the Lancers to a 5-4 lead after one. He finished the game with a team-high 10 points.
In the second frame, Livingston extended their lead to 12-8 following a Lefkowitz 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Alex Haberman.
However, Millburn worked its way back to a halftime tie on back-to-back deep balls from Jarred Darrin and Aidan Faira.
After the intermission, Millburn exploded for 10 points in the first three minutes of the third period. All four baskets from the floor in the quarter came from beyond the arch, as the Millers opened up a 29-20 lead. Ben Kizel rallied for seven points in the frame.
"Our shooting percentage in the first half was maybe 20 percent, in the second half maybe 50 or 60 percent," Blind said. "That's the difference, plus on top of that we made some three's, which is important."
In the fourth, Millburn's Brian Barkley lit up the scoreboard, scoring seven points, leading the Millers to an 17 point drubbing over the Lancers, 51-34.
Barkley led the game in scoring with 17 points.
"Brian Barkley is playing in the Freedom Division as one of the best players in the league," Blind said. "He shot the ball well. Even in our loss on Thursday night, he had 21 points at West Essex. I think other teams don't realize he's our center, but you still have to get out on him because he can shoot like a dog."
With the county and state tournaments quickly approaching, Blind thinks there is a bright future in front of his team.
"We have to be one of the top 16 teams by February 2 for the states," he said. "We're only 7-6, but we have a lot of work still in front of us. Having won five out of the last six, I'm very pleased."
Millburn will return to the floor on Tuesday to face Technology High School, while Livingston will host Bloomfield Tech on Tuesday.