New Providence Boys Basketball Survives Late Hillside Surge

New Providence forward Matt Romeo scored the first four points for the Pioneers in their win over Hillside on Thursday.  Credits: Alli Lamhing
New Providence's Dylan Thomas hit a key 3-pointer late in the second quarter to keep the Pioneers on top of Hillside going into halftime. Credits: Alli Lamhing

NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J. – It felt like déjà vu on Thursday for the New Providence boys’ basketball squad.

Two days after letting a 20-point fourth quarter lead slip away in a double-OT win over Roselle Park, the Pioneers saw a 22-point advantage slip to four against Hillside. However, unlike Tuesday, New Providence held on late to beat the Comets, 66-61.

Senior Curtis Kyzima led the Pioneers with 15 points, all in the second half, to keep New Providence undefeated at home this season.

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“We kind of new Hillside was going to go on a little run, we just wanted to come up with a way to stop it,” Kyzima said. “I think it worked out good. We just played harder.”

Leading by nine in the final two minutes of the third quarter, the Pioneers went on a 13-0 run, capped by a wide-open layup from Kyzima with 6:43 to play in the game. Hillside responded with a 13-point swing of their own to cut their deficit to 11.

Over the course of the final four minutes of the game, the Comets kept putting New Providence on the line to earn their points. That proved costly, as the Pioneers hit both free throws only twice during that stretch.

However, once Hillside cut their lead to four, the Pioneers hit seven of their last eight shots from the charity stripe to secure the win.

“We’ve played real well to get a nice lead, but what we’ve been doing for the first 24 minutes, we don’t do for the last eight or six minutes,” New Providence head coach Art Cattano said. “We have to start thinking about that.”

Part of the Pioneers success on Thursday was taking advantage of Hillside in the opening minutes of the quarters. New Providence scored first in all four periods, which set the tone.

Forward Matt Romeo scored the first four points of the game for the Pioneers, while Tyler Curto put up the first 10 tallies in the second. Leading by three at the half, New Providence opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run, before their 13-0 streak at the end of the period heading into the fourth.

Cattano thought it was nice to see the team play together throughout the game.

“It was somebody different,” he said. “I told Tyler [Curto] at halftime that it was his best half all year. We have a lot of different people that can contribute.”

The Pioneers return to action on Tuesday when they host Westfield at 7 p.m.

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