CRANFORD, NJ -- The Millburn boys basketball team is still looking for its first victory of the season, but on Tuesday night, the young Millers team showed that they could take a punch.
Millburn rallied from a 19-point first-half deficit and closed to within two points before Cranford reestablished control and defeated the Millers, 63-52.
The Millers went on a 12-2 run early in the fourth quarter to close to within two at 52-50 with 4:53 left, but Cranford then scored the next eight points to thwart the comeback effort. Zane Solender led Millburn with 14 points and Ethan Fine had 13 points.
Cranford had the upper hand in the early going in part because of its ability to get to the foul line and get Millburn into foul trouble. The Cougars opened a 17-5 lead by late in the first quarter by going to the foul line 10 times. Cranford finished 13-for-20 from the foul line in the first half, when Millburn connected on just three field goals.
Early in the third quarter, Cranford built its lead to 38-20 before a three-point play on an and-one by Spencer Kinsale ignited Millburn's comeback effort. Fine, who was scoreless in the first half, scored 10 points in the third quarter, which ended with the Millers trailing by only six, 44-38.
Cranford built its lead back to 12 by scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter, but the Millers had one more comeback left in them--when they needed two. Benjy Goldberg sank one of two free throws, then Solender sank a pair of 3-pointers before Cranford broke the Millburn press for a layup and a seven-point lead. Fine converted a layup into a three-point play with 5:19 left, then Goldberg finished a fast break with a layup that brought Millburn within two, 52-50, with 4:53 left.