NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The opening 8 minutes of New Providence’s dominating victory over Jonathan Dayton on Tuesday shocked everyone in the New Providence High School gym, including head coach Art Cattano.
Senior Kevin Vass and sophomore Jack Barletta led the Pioneers to a 19-4 lead and never looked back as New Providence dismantled the Bulldogs, 47-27.
I was very surprised. Kevin got us off to a good start. That and the press working very, very well, just got us going. We got a big lead and the kids were able to maintain it.
Vass tore apart Dayton’s defense in every way possible during the opening 90 seconds. The senior guard scored the game’s first eight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from the right wing that sent the Bulldogs into a tailspin.
Barletta joined Vass’s one-man show soon after, sinking three contested lay-ups to put New Providence in complete control.
When all was said and done in the first quarter, Vass wracked up 11 points, while Barletta added eight of his own to put the Pioneers on top 19-4.
“We got hot quick,” Vass said. “I think we were a little pissed off about the Oratory game so we wanted to come out and put things away early.”
Once the Pioneers went up by 12 in the first quarter, Dayton never got any closer, as New Providence had their way against their long-time rivals.
Defensively, the entire Pioneer unit strived from start to finish, giving up consecutive baskets only two times during the course of the game.
Senior center Russell Davidson was a force to be reckoned with inside the paint, denying Dayton’s scorers any leverage for layups or second chance opportunities.
Cattano said he has been impressed with Davidson’s ability to control the area surrounding the basket on both sides of the ball.
“Russell is really coming on,” Cattano said. “He is just getting better all the time. He just works hard in practice. Yesterday, he didn’t think he had a good practice. He was taking a lot of shots. I want him to do that, all inside stuff. And I told him to keep doing it, that’s the only way he is going to get better.”
Overall, eight different Pioneers scored, while almost the entire roster saw playing time in the game. Vass finished with 17, while Barletta set a new career high with 11 points.
The Pioneers return to action on Saturday when they begin play in the Cougar Classic against host Chatham High School at 8 p.m.