NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - After a stinging first round, 68-63, loss to the No. 7 seed Westfield in the Union County Tournament, the New Providence Pioneers Boys Basketball team played their rescheduled game against the North Plainfield Canucks, on Saturday, losing 65-50.
If the Pioneers have any hopes of advancing in the Boys Basketball NJSIAA Central, Group 2 Tournament, on February 27th, against the Canucks, they have some issues to resolve.
When asked about the implications of game and if the team’s approach would be altered in preparations for the tournament, Coach Art Cattano said, "We are treating this game like any other game."
From tipoff, the Pioneers did not have a good handle on the game, turning the ball over 16 times, and getting outscored 23 to 10 in the first quarter. Turnovers, the Pioneers inability to score, and defensively unable to prevent the Canucks from scoring, allowed North Plainfield to run up to score.
The Pioneers shot a disappointing 39.2% from the field, 22% from beyond arc, and 42.9% from the free throw line. Despite the dispiriting outcome, Coach Cattano remains enthusiastic about their chances in the state game, asserting “anybody can win once we play in the state games.”
Part of the reason Coach Cattano remains positive is because of the Pioneers remaining schedule, which is no cakewalk. Before the Pioneers rematch against the Canucks, New Providence must first finish off their regular schedule, which includes the evenly matched 10-10, Summit Hilltopers and the 8-9 Iselin Kennedy Mustangs. Their true challenge of the season will be their last game before facing the Canucks, the Mountain Lakes Lakers, who hold a record of 14-5.
“We are playing all good schools,” said Coach Cattano, which he feels will better prepare his team for the state tournament, adding, “what good does it do us playing bad teams, that we can beat by 30.”
Canuck’s coach Reggie Sainte-Rose was optimistic about the game stating “It’s good to see who we are facing in the state tournament.” Coach Sainte-Rose praised the Pioneers and Coach Cattano, “He’s a great coach -- Coach Cattano has been coaching for a long time, and I am sure we haven’t seen all they have, but if we play hard, hopefully we’ll come out on top,” said Coach Saint-Rose
After the game, starting sophomore guard Greg Meyers reflected on the game stating, "we need to play harder, play our game, and commit less turnovers; we can beat them.”