HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Jaden Castro nailed a three pointer with 2:02 remaining in the fourth quarter to give Hasbrouck Heights the lead for good, 54-52, on the way to a 58-55 victory over Wood-Ridge in a NJIC Meadowlands boys basketball game.

The Aviators improved to 14-1 in the Meadowlands Division, and will face Paterson Charter in a showdown for the NJIC Meadowlands Division title Thursday evening at 5:30.  Paterson Charter comes into the game 15-0.

The game was a see-saw battle that had both sets of fans, and coaches, upset with the officials by the end of the evening. 

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The Aviators came out flat to start the game, taking nearly four minutes to get on the scoreboard on a Remi Sanchez layup to cut Wood-Ridge’s lead to 7-3.  Wood-Ridge’s Liam Winslow had the game’s first five points, and had 11 of his game-high 23 in the first quarter, as Wood-Ridge had an 18-12 lead after the first quarter. 

The second quarter continued to ebb and flow, when, with Wood-Ridge up 23-18, Hasbrouck Heights center Kunga Tsering picked up a charging call, his third. When Aviators coach Mike Cebula objected, they were hit with two technicals, one on Cebula, one on the bench.  Winslow nailed three of the four foul shots, and after Wood-Ridge scored on the ensuing possession, had a 28-18 lead with 3:28 remaining. 

Faussette nailed a three pointer and follower with the next score to stop Wood-Ridge’s momentum, and when Jaden Castro scored, the Aviators were back within three, at 28-25.  

Wood-Ridge’s John Kurz and Ryan Sarver scored the final two baskets of the half, giving the Blue Devils a 32-25 lead at the half.

Tsering, took over in the third quarter, scoring the first four points to cut the lead back to three, and controlling the boards on the defensive end as well. After trading baskets, Castro and Faussette hit back-to-back threes, and the game was tied at 37-37. Tsering added four more Hasbrouck Heights, while Winslow, Sarver and Stephen Crandall each scored for the Blue Devils as the game moved into the fourth tied at 43-43.

The fourth quarter was ebb-and-flow, as the Aviators jumped out to a four point lead behind Tsering and Matteo Ochoa, before Wood-Ridge’s Nick Rizos answered with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 47-46. Following Castro’s basket made the score 49-46, the Blue Devils went on a 6-0 run to take a 52-49 lead.

The Aviators answered that with a 7-0 run, as Tsering hit two foul shots, Castro nailed a three-pointer from the corner for the lead, and Ochoa put in an offensive rebound to give Hasbrouck Heights a 56-52 lead with 1:13 remaining.

Wood-Ridge’s Trey Packen nailed a three-pointer with 1:05 remaining in the game, cutting the lead to 56-55. 

The officiating, which had let a few rough plays go during the game, had now put Wood-Ridge in a bind.  As both teams had only three team fouls in the second half, Wood-Ridge was forced to foul the Aviators four times to send them to the line so Wood-Ridge could get the ball back. 58-55 lead.  It set up the wild sequence at the end which saw, the Blue Devils miss two three pointers, before a mad scramble at the final buzzer as Sarver’s desperation final shot be blocked by Will Koukoutsis amidst considerable contact which saw both players wind up on the floor. (Whether or not Sarver had gotten behind the three point line is also up for debate, as the referees never made a call, before leaving the court under verbal fire from the Wood-Ridge bench and crowd.)

Winslow had a game high 23, while Sarver had 15 for Wood-Ridge, while Tsering’s 14 second-half points left him with an Aviator high of 19.  Faussette had 17 for the Aviators, 12 in the first half. 

The Aviators and Blue Devils will meet one more time this season, on Monday, March 2, as the third-seeded Aviators host the 14 seeded Blue Devils in the NJSIAA North 1, Group 1 tournament.


Wood-Ridge 18 14 11 12 55
Hasbrouck Heights 12 13 18 15 58
Wood-Ridge FG 3PT FT Total  
Liam Winslow 5 2 7 23  
Trey Packen 1 1 0 5  
Nick Rizos 1 1 1 6  
Stephen Crandall 2 0 0 4  
John Kurtz 1 0 0 2  
Ryan Sarver 4 2 1 15  
Matt Dellapena 0 0 0 0  
Totals 14 6 9 55  
Hasbrouck Heights  FG 3PT FT Total  
Steven Faussette 5 2 1 17  
Jaden Castro 2 2 0 10  
Will Koukoutsis 0 0 0 0  
Matteo Ochoa 5 0 0 10  
Kunga Tsering 7 0 5 19  
Remi Sanchez 1 0 0 2  
Daniel Viola 0 0 0 0  
  20 4 6 58  



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