SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Although the temperatures were frigid outside, Scotch Plains-Fanwood boys’ basketball provided plenty of warmth inside the gym of South Plainfield High School. After a rather cold first quarter, the Raiders got hot and defeated J.P. Stevens of North Edison, 47-31, in the first round of the Anthony J. Cotioia holiday tournament in South Plainfield Tuesday afternoon.
After trailing, 8-6, at the end of the first quarter, theRaiders, led by Tommy Drubulis, responded by outscoring J.P., 41-25, during the final three frames to remain undefeated (4-0). The Raiders move on to play for their second-consecutive Cotoia Tournament title, facing host South Plainfield Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in the championship game.
Drubulis, this week’s Joint Motion Physical Therapy Athlete of the Week, pumped in a game-high 15 points, including four three-pointers, to pace Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Dwight Laylor pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds in addition to seven points, while Jack Brady added 11 points and was 6-for-7 from the foul line. Elisha Smith led the Hawks of J.P. Stevens with 14 points.
With four minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Drubulis drained a two-point field goal after gathering his own rebound of a three-point attempt to provide the Raiders with their first lead of the game. The Raiders would never relinquish it.
J.P. Stevens, which hit just one free throw for the entire game, made things interesting when it claimed an 8-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, the Raiders responded by scoring 17 and 18 points in the second and third quarters, respectively, while limiting their Middlesex County counterparts to just four points in the second quarter and 12 total during that span.