NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – What a difference an extended period of days off made for the Pioneers' boys basketball squad.
Five days after putting out their worst performance of the year in mistake-plagued victory over Brearley, New Providence pounded Oratory Prep, 58-48, at New Providence High School on Tuesday.
Senior George Daniel led all Pioneers with 12 points, while Kevin Haggerty added 11 more as the Pioneers won their seventh game in eight tries.
“I don’t know what happened there,” senior Dylan Thomas said of the Brearley game. “We just fell off. I’m glad to see we recovered well.”
The Pioneers admittedly played their best opening half of the season, taking advantage of turnovers and second chance points, while holding the Rams to just eight points in the first 14 minutes of the game.
Led by Dillon Thomas’s six first half points, New Providence opened the game on a 22-6 run that saw 3-pointers from Thomas, Daniels, Haggerty and Kevin Vass.
“We were hot,” Thomas said. “We were hot. It kind of reminded me of Gov. Livingston. We have so much talent on this team its unreal. At any given point, we could be down 30 and just start hitting our shots. Any game is a game still. We just have lots of talent.”
New Providence led by as many as 20 points in the second quarter and went into the half up 18 after Thomas connected with Haggerty on a cross-court inbounds pass in the final 3 seconds of the half.
“It was a great first half by us,” head coach Art Cattano said. “I thought the basket at the buzzer was kind of a big play because they had gotten a couple of baskets in a row and we got up by 18.”
The Rams didn’t go away in the second half. Trailing by 21 after Daniels hit a 3-pointer on the Pioneers’ first second-half possession, the Oratory’s 3-point game showed its face.
Austin Lee and Matt Zychowski led the Rams’ comeback that saw the deficit drop from 21 to 10 by the end of the third quarter.
Oratory’s Brendan Lawler really made it difficult for the Pioneers in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, as he hit two corner 3-pointers to pull the Rams within four, 45-41.
But, New Providence responded in a big way. The Pioneers scored the games’ next eight points, including four from Bryan Joyce. They also held the Rams scoreless for the next 5 minutes and to only three scoring plays in the rest of the game.
“When you lose a lead, you have to start doing the dirty work,” Haggerty said. “So we had to start rebounding, had to start hustling on defense, banging some bodies. We were just happy we could convert some baskets.”
Cattano thought his team learned a lot about themselves in the fourth quarter, because its not easy to respond when a big lead slips away.
“You just hope to weather the storm, we did,” he said. “That’s good for us in a way too. A team makes a comeback on you and you have to respond. [Oratory] certainly had a lot of momentum and were very excited.”
With the victory, New Providence improves to 7-4 and splits the season series with Oratory Prep. The Pioneers have another chance at redemption on Thursday when they host Jonathan Dayton for a 7 p.m. tilt.