MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Columbia High School defeated Bridgewater-Raritan, 64-41, in the quarterfinals of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Tournament in front of its home crowd on Thursday night.
The Cougars showed up on both sides of the court, and junior Mike Runcie led the offensive attack with 14 points. Senior David Runcie, his brother, finished the game with 12 of his own.
J.C. Breaubron got off to a quick start, scoring all 8 of his points in the first quarter, and contributing to a 20-11 lead after the first quarter. The Cougars heated up in the second quarter and forced Bridgewater-Raritan to take a timeout after Columbia went on a 7-0 run with 5:24 left in the half.
"If you get up early, then the crowd gets into it, and it helped us build up the lead," David Runcie said. "Then once we got the lead, we wanted to slow up the pace so we could not give them as many possessions."
The fans were bringing a lot of energy, and David Runcie responded with a 3-pointer to give his team a 36-15 lead with three minutes left. The Cougars carried a 42-17 lead into halftime, and Bridgewater-Raritan could not fight their way back from the deficit.
"Our fans are amazing, I don't think there's any place like it," Mike Runcie said. "It's almost like a college atmosphere."
Columbia slowed down the pace of its offense in the second half, but maintained the same intensity on defense as they did in the first half. Mike Runcie connected with David Runcie for an alley-oop layup with three minutes left in the third quarter to give him and the Cougars a 52-21 lead.
Bridgewater-Raritan showed signs of a comeback and responded with a 7-0 run of their own that carried into the fourth quarter. But the Cougars held them off and maintained a secure lead until the end of the game.
Kevin Bostic scored 9 points for Columbia and Bridgewater-Raritan’s leading scorer was Vincent Pace with 13. The Cougars will travel to Ridge High School on Saturday for the semifinals of the tournament.
"Ridge does a lot of passing and they're very physical," Mike Runcie said. "So I think we have to continue off of tonight's game and build momentum."
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.