NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Bryan Joyce did not score a single point in regulation during Wednesday night’s NJSIAA North Jersey 2, Group 1 section quarterfinal.
But the junior guard came through when the Pioneers need him the most.
Joyce scored nine points in the two overtime periods to send the New Providence boys’ basketball team to the section semifinals following a 62-57 victory over North Arlington at New Providence High School.
“I was just trying to move the ball around but it was wide open underneath, so I just took it,” Joyce said. “I just tried to keep my composure, keep my head up, look for my teammates, just give us an opportunity to take it.”
New Providence played from behind for most of the second half, trailing by as many as five points in the fourth quarter, however senior Bryan Sherman lit up the scoreboard, scoring 12 points in the final eight minutes.
Down by four in the final two minutes, Sherman sank two free throws, followed by a Matt Romeo layup to send the game into overtime tied at 47-47.
“I was kind of just feeling it,” Sherman said. “I was shooting good yesterday and today was just the same thing.”
North Arlington immediately took back control the first possession of OT and continued to lead until Joyce hit a free throw with 39.8 seconds to knot the game. The Pioneers had a chance to take the game following a turnover with 4 seconds to play, but a Jordan Morang layup was a tick after the buzzer.
In the second overtime, North Arlington led by three after a Thai Scott layup, with 2:53 to play however they never scored again.
After Sherman brought New Providence within a point on a lay-in, Joyce took over, converting on two “And-One” opportunities in the final 75 seconds to send the Pioneer faithful into a gym-wide frenzy.
“I think our kids are just mentally tough,” New Providence head coach Art Cattano said. “Anyone can step in and take over. It just happened to be his turn. He took over the game, made some big plays. We’re very happy with that.”
The victory launches the Pioneers into a sectional semifinal battle with top-seeded Bloomfield Tech on Friday night. New Providence hopes to build off Wednesday’s late rally in search of an upset.
“I think this is huge momentum,” Sherman said. “Two great games in a row, plus the regular season wins. I think we’re playing great basketball right now.”
Tip-off for the “Final Four” matchup at Bloomfield Tech is scheduled for 7 p.m.