SUMMIT, NJ — Immaculata High School has started strong this season, showing opponents just how complete an offensive team it can be.
In large part, that is because of the Spartans’ firm understanding of how to be unselfish, how to create the open shots and to utilize their talent to the fullest.
Immaculata fueled off interior buckets and the strong post play of Jordan Myers to mount a sizable lead early on Thursday, which allowed the Spartans to expand and open up the perimeter upon Morristown committing to defending down low.
Once that happened, Immaculata couldn’t be stopped and soared to a 66-50 victory over Morristown in the Pete Tierney Memorial Holiday Tournament at Summit High School.
The unselfishness of Immaculata was on full display, as four Spartans scored in double figures during the win, led by Jaden Honis’ game-best 18 points to compliment eight rebounds and six assists. Jordan Myers added a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while T.J. Schneider scored 16 points and James Cummins chipped in 10. Immaculata trailed just once — after Morristown opened up a 2-0 lead 30 seconds in — and spent the final 31 minutes ahead.
"We’re an unselfish team, and we can get it from any of our guys," Immaculata head coach Ryan McKeever said. "Tonight, you see four guys in double figures, which was great. The guys were really moving the ball, and it started with our defense. I thought our defensive pressure was really good in that first quarter, when we got out to a lead and opened it up.
"We got the ball inside to Jordan and Jaden was doing his thing, and then that opens up the outside," he added.
Immaculata is now off to a strong start to the season, with a 3-1 record and now advances in the Tierney Tournament. The Spartans have also rattled off wins against Ridge and Gov. Livingston, and hung tough with perennial powerhouse Rutgers Prep, 80-59, in their lone loss.
Through those first four contests, Honis is averaging nearly 20 points-per-game (19.75) and seven assists, though the Spartans extend far beyond the standout sophomore. Myers averages 15.75 points, while Schneider comes in with a 14.25 clip. Cummins and Dan Johnson (four points, five rebounds Thursday) also combine to average over 11 points.
"With a team like we have, that’ll move the ball and find guys, it starts with our point guard with Jaden, really getting the ball up in transition, where he can drive and kick," McKeever said. "We have options that we haven’t had, where we’ve got the presence inside; guys who can slash and get to the rim; guys who can knock down the three."
All of those aforementioned options were plentiful for the Spartans Thursday, who opened up a big lead that continued growing throughout the game.
Once Immaculata jumped ahead for the first time, 4-2, on a Myers layup plus the foul one minute into the game, the Spartans just kept expanding that lead, and would go on to lead by as much as 25 at one point in the third quarter. Myers’ and-one play was part of an 8-0 run in which the Spartans turned a 2-0 deficit into an 8-2 lead during the nearly two-minute stretch, which featured tremendous defensive pressure to create the looks.
Most of the Spartans’ 17 first quarter points came inside, and on either second or third chances, or low post feeds. Unable to contain the Spartans down low, Morristown started placing its defenders on the baseline, which opened up the perimeters for Immaculata. Therefore, that allowed other scorers in Honis, Schneider, and Cummins to create scoring chances off the dribble, take open-look shots, or drive baseline without as much traffic, which is how Immaculata continued to expand the lead.
"We started out inside, and then they started doubling down on the big man, Jordan," Honis said. "He finds us open, we hit threes, cut for layups, or whatever was open."
The lead got as big as 14 in the first half after Myers found Kevin Ford for an open bucket to make it 33-19 with 13 seconds left in the second quarter. Immaculata then erupted for 21 third quarter points -- eight from Honis -- and claimed their largest lead of the contest, 25, on the junior guard's three-point and-one at the three-minute mark, which gave the Spartans a 52-27 advantage at the time. That capped a 17-7 Immaculata stretch, which began when it was an 11-point (33-22) game, and all but put things on ice.
"We all find each other, make plays, hit shots when we’re open; we do it all," Honis said. "I'm very happy. We should be a very good team this year. Just have to keep on winning."
Morristown struggled to get much going against the Spartans strong defense, but to its credit, did have three players in double figures. Ray Mundrick dropped 15 points, as Stephen Bergeman scored 14 and Duncan Wild added 10.