CLARK, NJ - The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders boys varsity basketball team took the win in their home game against the Jonathan Dayton High School (Springfield) Bulldogs. With a complete team effort, the Crusaders defeated the Bulldogs by a final score of 69-41 Tuesday night in Clark.
As the game got underway, the Crusaders struggled to pull together a solid offense, leading to them trailing the Bulldogs 8-6 after the first quarter.
Johnson was quick to pull it together at the start of the second quarter with a 13-0 scoring run, receiving four points from Jeff Drajin, four points from junior Brandon Hund, a three-point shot from George Visconti and a shot from Joe DiProfio. The Crusaders led 19-8 with 5:00 left in the second quarter, forcing the Bulldogs to burn two timeouts in the process.
Dayton continued draining shots to get closer, only for the Crusaders to answer most of their shots with baskets of their own. Hund delivered four more points and junior Brenden Kelly hit a three-point shot to boost Johnson’s lead.
Johnson outscored Dayton 20-8 in the quarter, building up a 26-16 lead by halftime.
On the defensive side of the game, Ross Wildes’ role has increased since the start of the season.
“It’s just a lot of hard work,” Wildes said. “Compared to the other seniors, I’m kind of new and got better as the years have went on. There’s a lot of hard work and effort to go where we are now.”
As the third quarter started, Johnson continued the offensive streak. Visconti scored five points to open the quarter, while Kelly and Drajin supplied the rest of the early offense, with Johnson taking a 36-22 lead with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Crusaders scored the first seven points, increasing their lead to 54-30 with 7:03 left. Johnson scored seven straight points for the second time in the quarter, making it a 61-33 lead with 4:03 left in the fourth quarter.
With less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the seniors exited the court to a standing ovation as their other teammates took the floor and finished the game.
Kelly finished the night with 16 points, along with four three-pointers in the win. Hund delivered 12 points and Drajin finished with 14 points in the win for his team.
“[Coach] Kennedy talked to us in the locker room about playing hard for our seniors every year,” Kelly said. “The juniors and sophomores play hard every year. We want to keep the tradition going.”
“Us doing that and keeping the culture going, getting us better for next year and hopefully, keep going for them so they can get a longer career,” he added.
Visconti finished with 19 points for the Crusaders, offering his thoughts of his career and time with the program.
“Coming in, basketball was definitely my favorite sport,” Visconti said. I was kind of unsure as to what to expect for my four-year career. Freshman year went extremely well and I limited myself to basketball only because it’s my passion.”
“I was able to accomplish amazing things as an individual and also, collectively with my teammates,” Visconti said. “So overall, it’s been a tremendous journey and I just want to finish out on the highest possible note I can and that’s my only goal from here on out.”
With the win, Johnson becomes the 2017-18 Union County Conference Sky Division Co-Champions with New Providence, the two teams splitting their meetings in the regular season.
The Johnson Crusaders (12-5) head out on the road to play at Summit HS Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
The Jonathan Dayton Bulldogs (6-10) return to action with a home game against Bernards HS Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.
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