NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -  Playing in their first state tournament game since the 2010-2011 season, the (14) Johnson Crusaders took on the (3) North Plainfield Canucks in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 First Round Monday night in North Plainfield. The Canucks beat the Crusaders by a score of 59-51.

The Crusaders and Canucks played a close game in the first quarter, with North Plainfield holding a 15-11 lead after the first eight minutes of action.

The Canucks hit seven three-point baskets in the first half, and connected on most scoring opportunities to take a 34-24 halftime lead.

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For Johnson, freshmen George Visconti led the way with 18 points, while junior Sean Kovatch contributed 12 points in the loss.

“It feels good, but it’s a tough loss,” said Johnson senior and co-captain Trevor McSorley. “We all played well, we played our hearts out. It’s great being the captain and all, but it’s a team effort and we tried our hardest.”

When the second half began, the Canucks maintained control of the game, leading by a score of 42-31 through three competitive quarters of action.

With 2:42 remaining, it appeared as if the Canucks may have had themselves the game, leading 53-38, but the Crusaders would make it interesting in the final minutes of the game.

The Canucks struggled with free throws, following the Crusaders intentional fouls to stop the clock. ALJ cut the North Plainfield lead to seven points, but the Canucks held on.

“Being a leader on this team was something not many people would have accepted,” said Johnson senior and co-captain Dan O’Donnell. “I did and I’m glad I did because I owe each and every one of them that. We’re all brothers and we’ll keep our bond for years to come. I’m not happy with the result tonight, but I’m happy with who was there for the end with me. They made it all worth it.”

For North Plainfield, senior Naim Hanks led all scorers with a game-high 24 points, while sophomore Ka-Ron Dock added 12 points in the victory for the Canucks.

The Johnson Crusaders boys varsity basketball team finishes the 2014-2015 season with a 12-12 record.

“We haven’t been to the states tournament in a handful of years, so in that respect, it was good,” said Johnson head coach David Kennedy. “We learned a lot about ourselves this year, and the program is going to be better served in the long run, so we’ll be back in the tournament, and we’ll continue to strive to get better.”      

The (3) North Plainfield Canucks (16-8), advance to the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 Quarterfinals, and will play home against the (11) Matawan Huskies Wednesday night.

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