MAPLEWOOD, N.J. -- Columbia High School boy’s basketball team extended their winning streak to seven games with a 67-42 victory over Orange High School on Tuesday afternoon. The win improves the Cougars’ record to 15-3.
“We are doing a very good job offensively and defensively,” head coach Gerry Hill said. “Everyone that’s getting in the game is very focused, and we have been practicing well.”
Leading the Cougars were senior Justin Martin and freshman Michael Runcie, who each scored 11 points in the win. Junior Evans Osujo also scored in double figures for Columbia, with 10 points.
The Cougars held the lead for the entire game, going up 2-0 on a pair of free throws, and never allowed Orange to tie the game. Columbia continued the offense with Runcie making a shot down low that extended the lead to 6-3, forcing a timeout by the Tornadoes.
“When you are in the passing lanes, you don’t let them run their offense,” Hill said. “It’s difficult to play us if we contain our man.”
Out of the timeout, Orange slowly closed the gap, cutting Columbia’s lead to 11-9 before Osujo scored for the Cougars to give Columbia a 13-9 lead after the first quarter.
Once the second quarter started, the Cougars started to pull away from the Tornadoes. Martin connected on a jumper to start a 9-2 run for Columbia to increase their lead to 22-12.
“We don’t like to settle for too many jump shots,” Hill said about playing Orange’s zone defense. “We just had to spread the court and try to get guys in the lane and not just settle for shots.”
Orange closed the gap to six points near the end of the half, but two baskets from Runcie and a 3-pointer from sophomore Robert Gordon gave the Cougars a 33-20 halftime lead.
From start of the second half, Columbia made it known who was going to win the game. Senior Maxim Michel scored back-to-back baskets in the paint to start a 14-1 run for the Cougars, giving them a commanding 47-21 lead.
Sophomore David Runcie hit a 3-pointer to close out the third quarter for Columbia. They outscored Orange 21-8 to extend their lead to 54-28.
With such a large lead going into the fourth quarter, the Cougars turned to their bench. In the final minutes of the game, four different players recorded their first points of the game for Columbia.
The Cougars return to the court Thursday night when they travel to face nationally ranked St. Anthony in Jersey City.
“Just keep them focused,” Hill said on keeping the streak alive. “We have got two tough games coming up.”
Stephen Valenti is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts designed to give students real-world experience.