NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J. – Jordan Morang has always been a “team first” type of player. More often than not, Morang is diving for loose balls, battling bigger players in the paint and scoring points after getting an offensive rebound.
It would have no surprise to anyone on the New Providence boys’ basketball team that with the game on the line, Morang would go looking for the team’s big scorers when the Pioneers needed a basket the most.
During Monday’s game against Summit, Morang surprised the packed gym at New Providence High School. With just over a minute to play and the Pioneers trailing by two, Morang sank a 3-pointer from the right wing to shock Summit and lead his team to a 36-35 victory.
“Coach [Art Cattano] was yelling at me to shoot it,” Morang said. “The first time I didn’t and I made a stupid pass and it got deflected away. The next time it came up, he yelled at me again. I shot it and I made it. It went in and that was all she wrote.”
Morang’s dagger put New Providence up by one, but it was the Pioneer defense that stepped up in the game’s closing seconds. Playing without center Matt Romeo, New Providence held Summit’s big man Robbie Walsh to just 10 points.
In the final minute, the Hilltoppers tried multiple times to get the ball inside to Walsh for the go-ahead bucket, but were denied each time.
Summit held the ball for the final 58 seconds of regulation, looking for the shot that would give the Hilltoppers the season sweep. However, it never came.
After committing two fouls to break Summit’s plan, the Pioneers blocked Summit’s last shot attempt at the buzzer to secure the win.
“We talked the whole time about keeping the score low and in our pace,” Cattano said. “I thought we did a good job at 36-35. I thought we did a nice job, obviously with the score. We got a big stop in the end.”
The Pioneers had more than just one big stop in the game. New Providence held Summit to 10 points or less in each of the first three quarters, including just four tallies in the third quarter.
After leading for most of the game, New Providence fell victim to Summit’s fast-paced offense for a couple of minutes in the fourth quarter. Petie Cummins scored five straight points in the middle stages of the final period to put the Hilltoppers on top, 29-26.
New Providence’s Tyler Curto responded with a corner three to tie the game before he and Dillon Thomas hit shots from the paint to put the Pioneers back in the driver seat.
Neither side was able to get comfortable offensively. Only Walsh scored in double figures for the game, while Thomas led the Pioneers with eight points.
The Pioneers remains undefeated at home, with two more regular season games remaining at New Providence High School before they host the first round of the state tournament on March 3.
“This is definitely really big,” Cattano said. “[Summit has] a great record. They’re the conference champions, so its nice to beat them. We have a break tomorrow and then two back-to-back, so it’s a good week for us, good games for us before the states.”
New Providence hosts Oratory Prep on Wednesday night before closing out the regular season on Thursday against rival Gov. Livingston. Both games tip-off at 7 p.m.
Summit does not play again until they host Warren Hills in the state tournament on March 3.