BASKING RIDGE, NJ – Bridgewater-Raritan had momentum going into their game at Ridge despite a 64-58 home loss to Hunterdon Central two nights ago.
But the Red Devils came out hot out of the gate at home on both ends of the floor on February 6th on the way to a double-digit halftime lead. Ridge continued to extend its lead by as many as 27 in the final frame over Bridgewater-Raritan (4-16) to put the game out of reach, and the Panthers fell 62-46 despite going on a 13-2 run to close out the game.
It was a shootout to open the game, with both teams scoring a combined 18 points in the first 2:50 on the way to an early 9-9 tie. Five points each from Ridge guard Gaven Kreitz and Bridgewater-Raritan forward Rishi Mudduluru kept the game knotted. Alvin Cheng then put the Panthers in front by two after hitting a pair of free throws with 4:24 left in the opening period.
After Red Devils guard Easton Smith hit a pair of layups for Ridge to put the Red Devils up 13-11 just over halfway into the first quarter, he and Krietz were the difference to keep Ridge in front for good. Two straight triples from Krietz with a long jumper by Panthers forward Alec Whelan in between forced a timeout with 1:56 left in the frame and Bridgewater-Raritan down 19-13.
The fourth and final field goal of the opening frame by Smith, who ultimately scored 12 points for Ridge, put the Red Devils in front 23-15 to end the quarter. Other than Red Devils forward Jayden Hilton’s pair of free throws and one more field goal by Ridge guard Nate Herrera, Kreitz and Smith combined for the remaining 19 points of the opening frame for the home team.
While Kreitz was held scoreless in the second quarter after hitting three from behind the arc in the game’s first eight minutes, and after Smith was only held to one field goal and four points total in this period, Ridge’s defense came up big. The Red Devils forced four turnovers on the opposite end of the court in the second quarter, with each of them leading to fastbreak layups at the other end. Six different players scored for Ridge in the second quarter in a frame when the Red Devils’ defense held Bridgewater-Raritan to only three field goals.
As a result, despite 10 points from Whelan to lead the Panthers at halftime, Ridge ultimately took a 38-24 lead into the locker room.
Things did not get any better for the Panthers in the third quarter, as Bridgewater-Raritan was held without a field goal for just over the first five minutes of the period. Both of what ended up being the Panthers’ two field goals of the frame came on back-to-back possessions by forward Mickey Wasko in the paint, but Ridge continued to extend its lead as a result. Kreitz hit his final two of what ended up being five total three-pointers on the way to a game-high 17 points for Ridge, who led 54-31 going into the final period.
Colin Lombardi and Zach Letts opened up the fourth-quarter scoring for Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan, respectively. But after back-to-back buckets in the post by Hilton, who added 11 points overall for Ridge, the Red Devils pushed their lead all the way to 60-33 with 5:44 to play. Bridgewater-Raritan did not go away, though, as Whelan hit a pair of post buckets to finish with a team-high 15 points for the Panthers.
Joey Callari then got on the board halfway into the final period with a three-pointer that hit nothing but net from way behind the arc. The 6’ 3” sophomore Panthers forward ended up scoring the final nine points for Bridgewater-Raritan to cap off a 13-2 run to end the game, but their 27-point deficit in the fourth quarter was too much to overcome.
The Panthers, who shot 11-for-15 (73%) at the free throw line in the contest, ultimately fell by a final score of 62-46 and lost their fifth straight game following a two-game winning streak.
Over their past six contests, Bridgewater-Raritan has averaged 45.3 points per game. The Panthers averaged 59.3 points per game in their nine games prior to this stretch.
Bridgewater-Raritan 46, Ridge 62
Ridge: Q1- 23; Q2- 15; Q3- 16; Q4- 8; TOTAL- 62
- Gaven Kreitz - 17 points
- Easton Smith - 12 points
- Jayden Hilton - 11 points
- Nick Losada - 7 points
- Nate Herrera - 5 points
- Colin Lombardi - 4 points
- Nolan Murphy - 2 points
- Steve Portas - 2 points
- Jake Shapiro - 1 point
- Kris Springsteel - 1 point
Bridgewater-Raritan: Q1- 15; Q2- 9; Q3- 7; Q4- 15; TOTAL- 46
- Alec Whelan - 15 points
- Joey Callari - 9 points
- Alvin Cheng - 7 points
- Rishi Mudduluru - 7 points
- Mickey Wasko - 4 points
- Zach Letts - 2 points
- Arya Trivedi - 2 points
REMAINING REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:
Bridgewater-Raritan (4-16) will play its next three regular season games at home before their regular-season finale at Bound Brook on February 27th. Next up will be a Saturday afternoon against East Brunswick, with tip against the Bears taking place at 1 p.m. Feb. 8 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
Feb. 8 - East Brunswick (1 p.m.)
Feb. 11 - Immaculata (7 p.m.)
Feb. 20 - Bayonne (5 p.m.)
Feb. 27 - at Bound Brook (6 p.m.)
Both the Panthers and the Bears have victories over J.P. Stevens, with East Brunswick winning a pair of January contests by final scores of 48-34 and, most recently, 56-42 Jan. 28.
Bridgewater-Raritan won 48-46 at J.P. Stevens Jan. 28, when Whelan scored the game-winning bucket from down low as time expired in regulation.
For detailed Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers Athletics schedules and game locations, please see https://bridgewaterraritanhighschool.bigteams.com/.
Follow him on Twitter (@MrOlivola) for live updates during game days and all things related to Bridgewater-Raritan Panther Athletics. Like The BReeze on Facebook and follow The BReeze on Twitter (@TheBReezeTAP).