MILLBURN, NJ - In their season opener against Malcolm X. Shabazz, The Millburn Boys Basketball team rode a hot fourth quarter shooting performance from Zach Evenchick to a 53-48 win over the Bulldogs.
Evenchick was the second leading scorer for the Millers, with 15 points on the night, one behind team scoring leader Simon Bitan, who had 16 points.
Millburn led by one after the first quarter, but Shabazz hung around to keep it at a one point deficit at the half. While the Bulldogs did find their groove from beyond the three point arc, the Millers managed to silence their shooters in a tight third quarter that ended up making all the difference.
Speaking with TAPinto after the game, Evenchick and Head Coach Pat Leonardis gave their thoughts on the final result.
Leonardis said that there were some things he would have the team work on going forward, but emphasized that every win is a good win.
"We knew this was a big game to kind of set the tone for the rest of the season, and bringing so many guys back from ast year, we have a little bit more confidence, we're a little bit more savvy on offense. One thing we've got to do is, we've got to keep our feet underneath us and not foul so much. Stop sending teams to the foul line. And we've got to finish around the rim."
Leonardis continued, "Tonight I thought we played well enough to win.I don't think it was our best complete game that we're capable of playing, but in the end, I told the kids in there, I'd rather be on the side of this [sic] any single day of the week."
Evenchick spoke about the message the team heard heading into the final frame that allowed him and his teammates to close out the win.
"Coming out of the third quarter, one of our captains, Ben Lipkin, he basically said 'this is it, we're going to take over the game right now,'" Evenchick said. "And he looked at all of us, and he gave us hope. He really inspired us. And I did what I had to do defensively, I helped offensively, but I thought this was a collective win. Everyone put in the work here."
Millburn's next game will be Dec. 28 at the Joe Pepe Memorial Tournament, held at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield. The time and opponent are still to be announced.