HILLSIDE, N.J. – The New Providence boys’ basketball team inadvertently had over a week to prepare for their Union County Tournament opening round game.

Between the snow and scheduling quirks, the Pioneers had eight days to get ready for a third meeting with Hillside. According to New Providence head coach Art Cattano, the break was not an excuse for the way the Pioneers played on Saturday at Hillside High School.

New Providence was held to single digits three times, as the Pioneers were eliminated by the Comets, 51-28, in the preliminary round of the Union County Tournament.

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“We just stunk today. It wasn’t a product of anything. We played terrible. We’re practicing, working hard. We get more done in practice than we in games. Everyone’s working, but its no excuse. It’s a terrible game.”

The Pioneers hung around with Hillside early in the first quarter after senior Curtis Kyzima hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:22 to play, but the Comets took off from there.

Hillside closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run. Leading 13-7 in the second, Hillside quickly expanded their lead to 26-11. New Providence did not have an answer to the Comet’s inside-out attack. Whenever they focused on Hillside’s interior offense, the Comets’ guards hit an outside shot, and vice versa.

In a game where New Providence turned the ball over a countless amount of times, center Matt Romeo provided a bright spot in an otherwise negative game.

Romeo scored in double figures for the third time this year against Hillside. All 12 of his points came in the first half, accounting for all but five of the Pioneers’ tallies in the opening half.

“He had a nice game,” Cattano said. “He did some nice things. He was, without a question, our best player tonight.”

New Providence’s problem…no other Pioneers scored more than four points. Kyzima was held to his lone first quarter deep ball, Jordan Morang scored twice and Bryan Sherman had only one basket.

The bench was no better, providing only five relief points late in the fourth quarter.

Cattano was disappointed in the team’s overall effort

“We threw the ball away, leading to their fast breaks,” Cattano said. “Even the kids subbing in, everybody got an opportunity and had a chance to go out there. Some kids go in right away and throw the ball away or they take bad shots or don’t hold on to a rebound. All the fundamental things we have to do to win. If we don’t do that, we’re not going to win.”

New Providence has another long stretch of practice days before their next scheduled game at Caldwell on Friday.