WESTFIELD, NJ — The Patrick School Celtics (Elizabeth), ranked as the best team in New Jersey and 39th overall in the nation according to maxpreps.com, easily handled the Blue Devils in a 74-37 win Tuesday. However, there was a bright spot for Westfield as senior Matt LaCorte became the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers made.

“I’m happy, but I wish it came in a game where we had more success,” LaCorte said. “Hopefully I’ll keep hitting shots like I did last year and blow the record out of the water.”

Senior center Nick Richards led Patrick School with 22 points in just three quarters of action. Richards, who stands 6’11, is a five-star recruit ranked as the 11th best high school basketball player in the country and is committed to the University of Kentucky, according to espn.com.

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Despite the convincing win, Richards still saw potential for improvement.

“We didn’t play as hard as we should’ve and we should’ve probably scored more points and won by a bigger margin,” he said. “But it was a good win, and I’m just happy we got the W.”

After Richards, the Celtics were led in scoring by seniors Jamir Harris with 16 and Marcus McClary who picked up 13. For Westfield, LaCorte led with 13 followed by senior Phil Martini and junior Adam McDaniel, who each had 6.

The Blue Devils hung around early in the game and were only down 17-13 at the end of the first quarter. The Celtics soon went up 43-18 at the half thanks to a 15-0 run to start the quarter and never looked back from there.

“When we’re up by a certain amount of points we just try to work on new stuff that we can probably use in the future and that’s normally what we’ll do,” Richards said.

Despite the loss, Westfield was still able to get the most out of the game.

“We’re playing Scotch Plains on Thursday and they aren’t going to be anything like the pressure we saw tonight,” LaCorte said. “It’s always good to practice harder than they play and so we can take this as a practice and a warm-up for our game on Thursday.”

Going forward Richards has high hopes for his championship-caliber team.

“I expect us not to lose anymore games,” he said.

For Westfield, they hope to string together more wins as they continue to improve.

“We really need to get on a roll, start winning games consistently and a bunch in a row so we can have momentum going into states and the county tournament,” LaCorte said.

Westfield (6-7) will face Scotch Plains-Fanwood on the road at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Patrick School (11-3) will play at home Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against Elizabeth.

Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

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