CHATHAM, NJ- The Summit combination of Will Schaffer and Michael Kaelin proved to be too much for the New Providence boys’ basketball team. The duo combined to score 28 points and lead the Hilltoppers past the Pioneers, 52-38, on Wednesday in the final game of the Chatham Classic.
Schaffer led all scorers with 15 points, while Kaelin added 13 to push Summit to their third victory of the year.
New Providence sophomore Jack Barletta scored 11 to lead the Pioneers.
“We were in it,” Cattano said. “If we make a few shots and a few free throws, we’re in it a little bit more. I liked the way we competed. I thought the kids played very hard, that's all I can ask for. We made some mistakes, but we’re always going to do that.”
Trailing by 12 late in the third, New Providence went on a 6-0 run that lasted into the fourth to cut their deficit six. Two minutes later, after Summit’s Jaden Jackson cushioned the Hilltopper lead back to eight, New Providence junior Will Faucher hit a corner 3-pointer to pull the Pioneers within five.
New Providence never got any closer, as Summit used the free throw line and a pair of fast-break layups to seal their victory, but Cattano was happy with how his squad competed and didn’t let the game get out of hand.
“I was pretty pleased with the way we handled things,” Cattano said. “We got a little sloppy, some big fourth quarter turnovers. We missed some shots that would have helped down the stretch.”
Despite not securing a win in the 2015 Chatham Holiday Classic, Cattano came away satisfied that the tournament did what it was designed to do: get the Pioneers ready for conference play.
“I think playing this level of competition that we played is certainly going to help us,” Cattano said. “You look at Chatham, I think they’re going to be one of the top teams around. Hanover Park is very good. Summit is very good this year. I thought we played them very tough. So, it should help.”
According to Cattano, the Pioneers’ biggest success during the past week was the play of their defense. New Providence held their last two opponents to 50 and 52 points, which is the team’s goal every game.
“I said [to the team] our goal is to always hold a team to 50 or less, which is very good,” Cattano said. “I said look what we’re doing, we’re just not putting the ball in the basket. Defensively, I’m very happy. I like the way the kids are working. They’re working hard. We just have to keep it going.”
The Pioneers have more than a week to work on their offensive struggles, as they prepare for their final “non-conference” game of the season next Friday against North Arlington. Tip-off from North Arlington High School is scheduled for 7 p.m.