ELIZABETH, NJ -- After winning their first sectional title in 40 years, the (24-5, 9-3 SEC) Bloomfield Bengals boys basketball team will take on the (24-4, 6-1 UCIAC) Linden Tigers tonight in the first round of the NJSIAA Group Tournament.
The Bengals won their first North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 title since 1977 on Tuesday night, with a 39-34 victory over the Ridgewood Maroons. The No. 2 Tigers won their Section 2, Group 4 crown that same night when they defeated the Newark East Side Red Raiders 59-51.
After the two teams played a close game all night, Bengals junior Mayowa Akindebe broke a 30-30 tie 45 seconds before the final buzzer.
“It feels great. The kids are well deserving, the epitome of a team and we put a good game together,” Bengals Head Coach Pat Brunner told TAPinto Bloomfield. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
Akindebe totaled nine points Tuesday night, while senior Myles Toppin recorded another eight and junior Richie Guillaume ended the night with seven.
Senior Francis Lorenzo and sophomore Mike Ramos dished out six points a piece.
“The ball didn’t go in a whole lot, but neither did our opponent’s, so we prided ourselves on being a really solid defensive team and just found a way to win,” Brunner said.
While the Bengals and Tigers have such a similar record this season, the Tigers come from a season full of wins on a much tougher schedule, which included victories over their rival Roselle Catholic and the Patrick School (Elizabeth, NJ).
In addition, the Tigers made it to the final round of the NJSIAA Tournament last year, where they fell to the then undefeated St. Anthony Friars.
“We’ll go prepared and hopefully play well,” Brunner told TAPinto Bloomfield. “Anything can happen.”
In the game against the Red Raiders Tuesday night, Tigers junior Tavon Jones scored a game-high 15 points, while his teammate Marcellus Livingston put up another 13 points.
Senior Khalief Crawford scored 10 points for the Tigers.
The two teams will tip off at Elizabeth’s Thomas Dunn Sports Center at 7 PM.