RAHWAY, N.J. - The Westfield boys' varsity basketball teams advanced to the second round of the Union County Tournament with their 51-34 victory over New Providence on Sunday night at Rahway High School.
“We stuck to our game plan,” Westfield head coach Daryl Palmieri said. “We knew they were going to try and slow the game down. We knew we needed to be aggressive defensively and I think we did that and it wore them out.”
The Blue Devils used their pressure defense to open up an early lead behind a 9-2 run in the first quarter. The turnovers forced led to easy baskets for Westfield’s Scott Toresco, who had six points during that stretch and finished with a game-high 16 points.
“When (Toresco) can catch the ball down low and finish he is very tough to defend,” Palmieri said. “Sometimes he lets up a little bit but if he doesn’t he can be good.”
Both teams played strong defensively in the second quarter with the two teams combining for only 10 points. Of those 10 points, Westfield had eight of them to go into halftime with the 23-12 lead.
“We turned the ball over too much, we took a lot of bad shots, we took too many quick shots,” New Providence head coach Art Cattano said. “We were talking about slowing things down a bit more. Since they beat us by 22 the first time and because of that we think they are a better team and if we shorten the game then we will have a chance.”
However, Westfield started the second half on a 7-3 run and held a 14-point advantage with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Then Curtis Kyzima hit a 3-pointer and started to give the Pioneers some life by opening the fourth quarter with another 3-pointer to pull the Pioneers within eight.
“When you’re not making shots and you’re taking quick shots you allow teams to stay in games,” Palmieri said. “They hung around for a little while but we did a good job moving the ball around in the fourth quarter.”
That ball movement turned into a 8-2 run for the Blue Devils to all but seal the game with a 40-26 lead and 4:38 to play.
Down the stretch, New Providence was unable to get anything going with Westfield matching every basket they made over the final four minutes.
“We came in the game with goals and we even at the end we changed our goals,” Cattano said. “We weren’t going to win so let’s not get beat by 20. Let’s value every possession.”
With the 17-point victory, Westfield will play Roselle on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at Rahway.
“We’re not going into this thing just to compete and try to stay close,” Palmieri said. “We wanted to get through today and now we will prepare for Wednesday.”