EMERSON - A game was all that was needed for the rust to get shaken off.
Anthony Palmer scored 26 points, including 18 from behind the three point arc, as six-seed Hasbrouck Heights upset third seed Emerson, 58-44. The win, coupled with seventh seed New Milford’s 66-59 win over second seed Bogota, sets up a matchup between Hasbrouck Heights and New Milford in Hasbrouck Heights at 7 pm.
The Aviators jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a Palmer basket and a Moretto three-pointer before Emerson could get on the board. Emerson’s Nick Minck and Peter Durocher brought the Cavaliers back into it, before Moretto hit a three pointer to re-establish the pattern that game would follow. Heights would pull away, Emerson would chip away, and Heights would go on streak to open the lead back up.
Paced by Moretto (6 points), Jasiah Purdie and Palmer (4 apiece) the Aviators led 14-10 after the first period.
The second period was a low scoring affair, with the Cavaliers trying to cut into the lead, but Heights hitting big shots and shutting them down with their athleticism on defense. With the lead cut to 17-15, Heights went on a 9-1 run the final 4:50 on the quarter to give the Aviators a commanding 10-point lead.
Palmer’s long three-pointer gave Heights a 20-15 lead. Purdie then stole the inbounds pass for a quick basket to increase the lead to seven. Another Purdie basket, made the lead nine before Purdie hit Moretto with a behind the back pass for a layup and an 11-point lead with a minute remaining in the half.
Peter Durocher hit one of two foul shots for the Cavaliers with 7.7 seconds left to cut the lead to 26-16 at the half.
A 5-0 spurt to open the third quarter temporarily shifted momentum completely in Heights favors as Palmer hit a three and Moretto laid one in to make the score 31-16.
John Dime then single-handedly brought Emerson back into the game, scoring the game’s next eight points, bring the Cavaliers within seven, at 31-24, with 4:12 remaining in the quarter. But Palmer hit another three, and Purdie added one of his own, and the lead was back to 13, 37-24, with 2:56 left. The Cavaliers added the remaining four points of the period from the line, and the Aviators led 37-29, going into the fourth.
The beginning of the fourth quarter saw Heights put any thoughts of an Emerson comeback to rest. Palmer hit a three just 0.23 into the period, and freshman Kunga Tsering added a rebound basket to bring the lead back to 13.
Palmer hit his second three on the quarter, and then followed it up a minute and a half later to give the Aviators a 47-29 lead with 4:44 remaining in the game.
Emerson made a run, with Dime once again leading the way, but it was too little, too late, as the Aviators advanced with the 58-44 victory.
“The guys executed the game plan well and really deserve to be playing on this stage,” said Hasbrouck Heights head coach Mike Cebulla. “This was a goal of ours from the beginning of the season, and I’m very proud of the way they played.”
Hasbrouck Heights 14 12 11 21 58
Emerson 11 5 13 15 44
Hasbrouck Heights (15-11)
Klenk 0-0-2-2, Purdie 3-2-2-14, Palmer 2-6-4-26, Moretto 3-2-0-12, Capozzi 0-0-0-0, Tsering 1-0-2-4, Xheraj, 0-0-0-0, Alberto 0-0-0-0, Koukoutsis 0-0-0-0, Totals 9-10-10-58.
Durocher 2-0-5-9, Minck 2-0-0-4, Dime 7-0-2-16, Csapo 0-1-0-3, Covello 2-0-0-4, Gildea 1-0-0-2, Marrera 0-0-1-1, Speigal-Brown 0-1-0-3. Totals 14-2-8-44