NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J. - The Pioneers of New Providence were looking to avenge its earlier season loss to Hillside, but they fell short, 61-57, on Tuesday at New Providence High School.
"New Providence is a scrappy team," Hillside Comets Coach DuBois said. "They played us hard last time and pressured us again tonight."
A combination of forced NP turnovers, several offensive rebounds resulting in second chance points, and hot foul shooting at the end of the game were the key ingredients for the Hillside victory.
New Providence was led by the consistent scoring of Kyle Kroeger with 14 points. Tyler Curto added 13 points off the bench, while Curtis Kyzima pitched in with 11, all in the second half. The Pioneers shot a paltry 26 percent from beyond the 3-point attempts, compared to a very good 52 percent of their 2-point shots.
Both teams committed numerous turnovers in the first quarter. By the end of the period, the Pioneers had a 12-9 lead, aided by a 3-point shot by Tyler Curto with 30 seconds to go. Hillside applied pressure on all ball handlers but a few times New Providence was able to make nice passes for open layups.
The Comets scored 13 points in the first four minutes of the second quarter to take a 20-19 lead. The lead grew to six at half time, 30-24, as Hillside capitalized on three Pioneer throw aways for 2-point baskets, several coming after one or two offensive rebounds.
Kyzima opened the second half with a 3-pointer that started a New Providence comeback. With 4:11 left in the third quarter the game was tied at 37. A missed NP dunk attempt and five unanswered Comets points quickly gave Hillside a 42-37 lead. Hillside increased its lead to 10 with a 3-point buzzer-beater made by one of its players.
In the fourth quarter, the Pioneers whittled an eight point deficit down to two as Kyzima hit two 3-pointers in a row. During the surge, the Comets called two timeouts.
"I took two quick timeouts to relieve my team from the New Providence defensive pressure," Dubois said.
NP stole a Comets pass that it converted into a Kroeger layup off a nice pass from Michael Wilderotter to tie the game at 53 apiece.
10 seconds later, with 1:30 to play in the game, Hillside made a basket to lead for good.
In the next 1:15, they made 5-of-6 foul shots to lead by three.
With 15 seconds left in the game, New Providence missed a 3-point shot that could have tied the game. It got the rebound but missed the next shot as well, ending in the 61-57 Hillside win.
The Pioneers travel to David Brearley on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.