BERNARDSVILLE, NJ — The Bernards boys' basketball team's shortened season has been filled with thrills.
The Mountaineers have had games where they've rallied from double-digit deficits, and other games in which they've seen double-digit leads of their own evaporate.
Coming off a hard-fought loss to undefeated Bound Brook on the road the night before, and playing its third game in four nights, Bernards opened a 15-point first half lead on South Hunterdon Friday night, but then had to withstand a rally by the visitors, who came all the way back to tie in the fourth quarter.
But Bernards made the big plays down the stretch to come away with a 66-59 victory over South Hunterdon.
Senior guard Jacob Insler had a career-game with 27 points and junior guard Vincent White continued his sterling play with 17 points and four assists for the Mountaineers (6-3).
"Jacob came off the bench last season as a reserve guard," Bernards head coach Tim Palek said. "He stepped into a much bigger role this season. We've asked him to score the ball and make plays for us this season."
Bernards, which had a 15-point lead late in the second quarter, found itself tied with South Hunterdon early in the final period, 50-50. From there, Insler took a pass in transition from guard Andrew Infusino for a layup. Infusino then put back an offensive rebound with 5:41 left for a four-point Mountaineer lead. Senior center Andrew Holmes also followed in a miss with five minutes to go, giving Bernards a 56-50 lead. And Holmes then fed Insler cutting to the basket for a layup and a 58-50 lead.
Holmes finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Infusino handed out four assists and Elliot Dietrich had seven points in the win.
In the first half, Bernards reeled off nine straight points to take a 33-18 lead. Insler had five points and Holmes had two assists in that run, but South Hunterdon came back with the last six points of the first half to cut the Mountaineer lead to single digits, 33-24.
Two of Bernards' three losses have come at the hands of Bound Brook, a team that has become such a player on the Central Jersey scene that the Crusaders beat perenial Union County power Linden earlier this week. On Thursday, Bernards fell behind Bound Brook by eight points early, but the Mountaineers whittled their deficit to three by halftime and then went ahead, 46-42, in the third quarter before Bound Brook came back and pulled away for a 73-61 victory.
White had 17 points, Infusino scored 13 with three steals, and Holmes collected 12 points and 14 rebounds against Bound Brook.