NORTH PLAINFIELD -- What a difference three weeks makes.
After squeaking past Pingry in Martinsville 43-40 on Jan. 3, you would figure the rematch in North Plainfield would just as competitive. But, as ESPN broadcaster Lee Corso always says, “Not so fast, my friend!”
Two-thirds into their 2016-17 schedule, the North Plainfield High School varsity boys basketball team seems to be hitting their stride. The Canucks displayed their speed, defensive intensity, and free-throw shooting ability en-route to a commanding 72-36 over the Big Blue in Skyland Conference - Mountain Division action Tuesday afternoon.
In the last matchup, North Plainfield had to sweat out a fourth quarter that saw Pingry outscore them 16-10 to hold on for the three point win. But this time, the Canucks led 19-9 after the first quarter and never looked back.
“We’re playing better. We’re playing as a unit,” North Plainfield head coach Reggie Sainte Rose told TAPinto North Plainfield on the court after the game on the difference between the two games against Pingry. “I’m happy we had two days off (for rest). Because of the storm (on Monday) we didn’t get to practice (all after-school activities were cancelled). I’m happy these guys came out and were ready to go, I was worried about a let down.”
The formula for North Plainfield all year has been defense and getting out in transition. The Canucks did that and them some, holding Pingry to their second lowest scoring total of the year while also sprinting up and down the court for easy buckets on the offensive end.
North Plainfield was able to take advantage of their time at the free-throw line as well as hit from behind the arc for a couple 3-pointers.
Sainte Rose spoke on his team’s defense and the slew of fast break opportunities.
“A little sloppy, but when we got into the game and into a flow we did what we were supposed to do - fill the lanes, rebound, and we got the job done,” Sainte Rose said. “They’re showing maturity. They know 4-6 weeks and that’s it so there’s a sense of urgency (especially for the seniors).”
Sainte Rose was able to put reserves in the game in the fourth quarter for some playing time.
One bright spot for the Big Blue however was big man Mike Weber. The junior showed off a nice shooting touch from 15-feet, and was able to back down defenders in the post.
“He’s a good player,” Sainte Rose said of Weber. “He’s very fundamentally sound and he can shoot the ball. We tried to take away his jump shot and let him dribble, but he has great post moves too. He was a handful. We had to send some double teams at him.”
Next up, North Plainfield hosts Manville at 4 p.m. on Thursday, while Pingry returns home to play Belvidere.