CLARK, NJ - The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders varsity boys basketball team returned to regular-season play following a Christmas Tournament championship win with a home game against Cranford HS on Thursday night. With a concentrated team effort, the Crusaders outlasted the Cougars by a final score of 65-48.
The Crusaders came out hot in the first quarter, going on a 12-0 run to turn a 6-5 Cranford lead into a 17-6 Johnson lead. Johnson juniors George Visconti and Joe DiProfio and sophomore Brandon Hund drilled key baskets to fuel that scoring run for the Crusaders. Visconti scored 11 of his points on the night in the first quarter.
Overall, he finished the night with 27 points, leading his team in scoring. Cranford would drain a three-point basket just as the first quarter expired, with Johnson holding a 22-11 lead over Cranford.
The second quarter featured the Crusaders overwhelming the Cougars in the early stages of the game. Leading 27-15 with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter, Johnson slammed Cranford on offense, closing out the first half on a 14-1 run to build a halftime lead of 41-16.
DiProfio and Hund kept control on offense in the second quarter, with DiProfio scoring eight points and Hund adding five points, including a three-point basket just as the buzzer sounded.
Overall, DiProfio finished the night with 20 points, while Hund scored 12 points for the Crusaders in the victory.
As the third quarter got started, the Cougars cut into the Crusaders lead, with senior Cris Libreara leading the team on offense. He scored 11 points in the third quarter alone, to give his team a chance, as Cranford trailed Johnson 57-41 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Johnson Crusaders regained control on the fourth quarter and closed it out to remain undefeated on the season.
For Cranford, Libreara finished with 21 points in the loss, while senior Ryan Bakie added 16 (12 of them in third quarter, via four three-point baskets) points for the Cougars on the night.
The Johnson Crusaders (6-0) head out on a four-game road stretch, which starts at Dayton HS Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.
The Cranford Cougars (1-5) are back in action when they return home to play against Hoboken HS Saturday afternoon at 12:00 p.m.