BRIDGEWATER, NJ – After defeating Bridgewater-Raritan on their home floor by a final score of 73-46 in both teams’ season openers, Watchung Hills picked up right where they left off in their rematch.
The starting five for the Warriors (15-1) did all of the damage at Bridgewater-Raritan (2-11) Tuesday, and big first and third quarters by Watchung Hills were the difference in a 71-43 victory on the way to a regular-season sweep of the Panthers.
Warriors guard Michael Bressler, who scored 31 points in the previous matchup, opened up the game’s scoring with his first of four first-period triples on the way to a 22-10 lead over Bridgewater-Raritan after one period. His fifth and final from long range with 1:16 to go in a relatively even 2nd quarter capped off a 19-point first half for Bressler and a 35-19 halftime lead for the visiting team.
While he only had six points in the second half on the way to a game-high 25 points, he commanded the floor and got his fellow starters going on both ends of the floor. Bridgewater-Raritan had trouble scoring in the paint behind suffocating defense from the Warriors’ big inside lineup, who held Panthers starting forward Alec Whelan to only four points on Tuesday night after holding him to only one point in their previous meeting.
On offense, Warriors forward Jack Dwyer had an answer for each of the Panthers’ four second-period field goals. He had six points in the 2nd quarter, and heated up even more after the break.
Bridgewater-Raritan appeared to briefly steal the momentum with a quick 6-2 burst out of the locker room to cut the lead to 37-25 with 5:38 in the 3rd quarter, even despite an intentional foul called on the Panthers on the next Warriors possession. This led to a pair of free throws from Bressler and the first of four third-period buckets in the post from Chad Martini to extend Watchung Hills’ lead to 16 points. A three-pointer by Bridgewater-Raritan’s Zach Letts cut the Warriors’ lead to 41-28 with 4:29 left in the period.
Even though Rishi Mudduluru had five straight points for the Panthers and finished with 12 points overall, back-to-back buckets in the post by Martini and back-to-back buckets from behind the arc by Dwyer ultimately began a 28-8 run for the Warriors that extended into the final period and put the game away.
With 3:30 to go and the Warriors leading 69-36 at this point, Alvin Cheng scored seven straight points for the Panthers on the way to a team-high 15 points for Bridgewater-Raritan. But both teams emptied their benches just under two minutes later, and the Warriors eventually ran out the clock on the way to their 71-43 victory.
Watchung Hills went 12-for-21 at the free throw line in their win over Bridgewater-Raritan, who shot only two free throws in the game and in the final period.
The Warriors outscored the Panthers by a combined margin of 84-32 in the first and third quarters of both regular-season meetings in 2019-20.
Watchung Hills 71, Bridgewater-Raritan 43
Watchung Hills: Q1- 22; Q2- 13; Q3- 23; Q4- 13; TOTAL- 71
- Michael Bressler - 25 points
- Jack Dwyer - 19 points
- Chad Martini - 14 points
- Patrick Stefurak - 9 points
- Brian Hopwood - 4 points
Bridgewater-Raritan: Q1- 10; Q2- 9; Q3- 16; Q4- 8; TOTAL- 43
- Alvin Cheng - 15 points
- Rishi Mudduluru - 12 points
- Joey Callari - 6 points
- Alec Whelan - 4 points
- Zach Letts - 3 points
- Mickey Wasko - 2 points
- Brandyn Vaughn - 1 point
The Panthers (2-11) will begin a stretch of five straight games away from home with a contest at Hillsborough Jan. 23. Tip at the Raiders will be at 7 p.m. at Hillsborough High School. This will be a rematch of a regular-season contest won 52-45 by the Raiders on the Panthers’ home court on Jan. 3.
Bridgewater-Raritan will not be home again until Feb. 4 against Hunterdon Central (7 p.m. on this date).
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).