MONTVILLE, NJ - The Montville Mustangs entered the boys basketball state tournament as the No. 3 seed and nearly saw their journey end on Tuesday, March 3.
The No. 14 seed Old Tappan Golden Knights had dreams of pulling off an upset as they were able to take a 27-22 lead into the half. Montville struggled and was only able to score 6 points in the second quarter putting them in a bit of a hole.
The second half saw Montville make a run and was able to even the game by the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the game stayed extremely tight and Old Tappan was on the verge of completing the upset. Montville Senior Henry Russnow had other ideas as he put back a missed shot into the net as time expired to give the Mustangs a 51-50 win.
"It was a great team effort," Montville Coach Bill Medina said. Medina commented that Jacob Coleman defended Old Tappan's best player holding him to 2 points and although Erik Werheim had 10 points, the other team was doubling and tripling him in the post. Coach Medina also mentioned that Josh Grossman did a nice job of controling the tempo of the game and Jacob Kaplan gave the team energy and the scoring they needed.
"Henry Russnow was the star of the night, when he fought off a box out and was able to put back a shot at the buzzer to help us win," Medina said. "Our bench played a big role as well. Kevin Koske and Nick Mastrandrea come in and gave us crucial minutes and they both were able to help us keep their best shooter from scoring."
For Montville, Jacob Kaplan led the scoring with 17 points and Jacob Coleman contributed 13 points. For Old Tappan, Tyler Sokolich led the scoring with 14 points in the defeat.
The win for Montville advances them to the quarterfinals on Friday when they will host No. 6 seed Garfield Boilermakers at 7 p.m.