MONTVILLE, NJ - The 3rd seeded Montville Mustangs saw their hopes and dreams of a state championship end on their home court to No. 6 Garfield Boilermakers in a 61-54 loss on Friday, March 6.
The game started out tight defensively as each team was recording blocks, creating steals and getting easy attempts. Garfield missed a few easy layups and had a few more blocked. Montville was able to hit a few of their layup opportunities. A back and forth first quarter led to a 12-12 tie at the end of the quarter.
In the 2nd quarter, the Mustangs looked a little stronger although the game never saw either team take full control. Nick Mastrandrea came off the bench to contribute 5 of his 9 points for Montville in that quarter. Jacob Kaplan had 8 points to lead the team in the first half as the Mustangs claimed a 4 point lead at halftime.
The second half was a different story and Montville saw a much different Boilermaker team. Senior Ned Bakic managed to only score 2 points in the first half but his drive and determination helped Garfield swing the game in their favor. He scored 15 of his 17 points in a second half in which Garfield outscored Montville 39-28. Ricky Reyes tied Bakic for the team high in points as he scored 11 of his 17 points in the 2nd half.
A key turning point in the game came when Montville claimed a 39-37 lead; Ned Bakic took the inbounds pass, ran up the court and hit a shot from about half court as time expired. That 3 point shot gave Garfield a 40-39 lead, and it would be a lead they would regain in the fourth and never look back. For a moment in the 4th quarter it seemed as though the shot would not phase the Mustangs as they took a 45-44 lead but that’s the last time they saw the lead. Bakic and Reyes continued to hit big shots down the stretch and just like that the season was over for Montville.
Montville Coach Bill Medina felt the true turning point in the game came in the 4th quarter when Garfield decided to press and put a lot of pressure on the ball handler and forced two turnovers that led to easy baskets. Medina was quick to praise the Garfield team calling them “very quick, athletic and well-coached.” He felt another difference was the role the Garfield bench played; it allowed Garfield Coach Chris Storms to rotate in new players, keep fresh legs and have his players play the game they wanted.
For Montville their season comes to a close with a 19-6 record, a team that has 11 seniors and will see a major makeover next season.