Millburn, NJ- The Millburn Millers bounced back from a heartbreaking loss against Verona and defeated Nutley 52-39 in a dominating victory. Zach Ravitz led the way with 21 points and a handful of blocks and steals, while Charlie Levison added 14, and Ross Gang chipped in 11. Millburn, playing in the Colonial Division, has a significantly harder schedule than the Raiders, and their experience showed today as the Millers came prepared. The Millers were fired up before this one even started as many of the players wanted to shake off the one point loss to Verona, and get revenge on these Raiders from last year's 47-44 loss here in Millburn.
The game couldn't have had a better start for the Millers, forcing two turnovers on the Raiders' first two possessions and capitalizing on the other end, including a Zach Ravitz dunk in transition. Millburn expanded the lead to 8-0 with the Raiders committing four turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. Finally, sophomore Marty Higgins drained a Steph Curry-like 3. The big story in the first quarter was the shot selection from the two teams. Millburn feasted in the paint as they usually do, and no one was big enough to defend Ravitz. Because of Ravitz's blocks early in the game, the Raiders were afraid to shoot inside and they settled for long 3 pointers. The Raiders began to hit their deep shots and ended the first quarter down 13-8, with Higgins scoring all the Raiders' points.
The script flipped in the second quarter where the Raiders tried so hard to prevent any buckets inside that they let the Millburn shooters rip it from downtown. They gladly accepted the challenge and scored 15 points in that quarter, all from beyond the arc. Matt Schettino, a senior who scored 25 points in last year's game between these two teams, was held scoreless through a quarter and a half until he drained a 3 pointer in transition. The same story played out with Millburn's leading scorer Ross Gang. He was held to 3 points entering the break but ended the game strong. Millburn led 28-20 at the half. Ravitz had 14 points entering the third quarter.
Zach Ravitz asserted his dominance once again in the third quarter, quickly scoring five straight points for the Millers to begin the second half including his fourth 3 pointer of the game, which matched his season total entering today. The Raiders doubled Ravitz at all times when he had the ball, and that stopped the scoring from Ravitz, but it opened the scoring for the rest of the Millburn guards including Levison, Gang and Adam Liu. Because of the double teaming, the Millers scored uncontested layups through great ball movement. The Millers went to the free throw line for the first time in the third quarter and Ross Gang made both foul shots. On the other side of the court, the offensive struggles continued for the Raiders, as they hoisted deep 3 point shots that couldn't find the bottom of the net. Turnovers were the story of the game, as the Millers intercepted forced passes. The Millers doubled their lead to 43-27 at the end of the third quarter.
To start the final period, the Raiders committed back to back turnovers, including a backcourt violation. Gang hit a number of shots in the paint to expand the Millburn lead. Although Millburn was outscored in the frame, they won the game and advanced to 9-1 and a three-way tie for the division lead with Bloomfield and Orange. Nutley dropped to 5-4.
Millburn travels to face division rival West Essex for a second time this season on Tuesday. Millburn won 43-34 against them on opening night.