HAMBURG, NJ - The Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology (PCSST) advanced in NJSIAA Section I-Group I state tournament play with a 46-42 victory over Wallkill Valley Saturday.
The first frame saw the Rangers’ guard Mason White and co-senior forward Shane Geene lead the way. With White’s three-point shooting serving as a catalyst, each and every scoring attempt by the Lions was answered.
Following a pair of Ranger free throws, Paterson Charter’s junior guard Marquis Harris knocked down a nothing-but-net three-pointer from the top of the key. A perfect lob pass into the Rangers’ Zane Crumb resulted in a nice wheel into the lane but the senior center’s shot bounced off the rim. Soon thereafter, a WV pass was deflected and tipped to Harris who scooted the length of the court, was fouled, and dropped in one of two from the charity stripe.
Wallkill Valley’s junior guard Shawn Falk then brought the ball up court but dribbled it off his foot for a turnover. As the Lions’ Zahire Robinson and the Rangers’ Geene mixed it up under the boards, Harris frantically drove to the bucket and dished off to Cameron who lofted a three-point swish from deep in the right corner. However, Falk atoned for his previous miscue with a perfect assist to Geene whose three-point attempt from beyond the key tickled the twine.
More rumble in the paint followed with Crumb and Paterson’s senior forward Bashir Byrd locking arms and elbows with the former being whistled for a foul. Action intensified as a wild scramble for the ball began in Wallkill Valley’s lane, continued to midcourt, and finally concluded with a steal by Rangers’ junior guard Reyes Madera. With 58 seconds left in the half and the Lions ahead 24-19, Harris calmly stood by midcourt holding the ball, uncontested, for 40 seconds. However, the last moment shot strategy was foiled as Madera picked a pocket, retaining possession for the Rangers.
The third quarter began with White drawing a charging foul for Wallkill Valley but Byrd cashing in on a smooth 10-foot floater from the left baseline. On the Rangers’ next offensive possession, Crumb grabbed an offensive rebound at the low, right block and bounced a spectacular behind the back pass to Geene who was fouled in the act of shooting and converted one of two from the line. However, Madera responded with a strong drive to the bucket followed by a pair of free throws but the Lions squandered a fast break opportunity with a double dribble violation.
As play reached midway through the third period, momentum ignited for both Rangers’ players and fans as Cameron dribbled off a pick by Falk to the left of the key, drove right, converted an acrobatic banker, and completed a three-point play. The Lions’ woes continued as a missed shot was saved from going out of bounds but went directly to Falk in Paterson’s lane, who turned and fired a half court pass to White for an easy cherry-pick layup. A tie-up, possession Wallkill Valley, was followed by another three-pointer by White.
An air-ball shot attempt threatened to further deepen Paterson Charter’s troubles but junior Zahire Robinson made his only basket of the evening a big one. His drive and score quelled the temporary Rangers’ uprising. Following a ten-foot baseline jumper by Geene, Byrd dropped in two free throws for the Lions.
This time it was Wallkill Valley’s time to wait for a last second shot. Falk dribbled around the perimeter and with eight seconds to go drove into the paint but the effort backfired. In a play worthy of any highlight reel, the loose ball wound up in the hands of Harris who raced to the top of the key and lofted an off balance three-point attempt. As the buzzer sounded, the effort banked in and Paterson fans roared with approval.
Paterson Charter’s first offensive possession of the fourth frame saw Miller feed Byrd at the left, low post who turned in a beautiful under the basket move and score. The Lions’ stingy man-to-man defense then denied the Rangers an open shot for over a minute. Another drive to the bucket by Miller saw his shot roll tantalizingly off the rim but senior power forward Joseph Collazo was there for the rebound and put back. With Miller and Harris directing offensive traffic for the Lions, teammate Caleb Ruffin pulled up for a 15-foot stop and pop.
Despite the Paterson lead ballooning to nine points with 4:30 left, the Rangers did not give up. Crumb drew a reaching foul after snatching a defensive rebound and White cashed in on a three-point rainbow from left of the key. Paterson junior Troy Medlock countered by taking two dribbles from the right wing and hitting a successful ten-foot runner but White immediately retaliated for the Rangers with a three-point bomb from deep in the right corner.
In successfully winding the clock down, Miller and Harris shared dribbling duties for Paterson, frustrating furious attempts by Wallkill to gain possession. The Rangers’ comeback efforts were further negated by a three-second line violation and Harris swishing two free throws. However, a trey by the home team, with seven seconds, left narrowed the Lions’ advantage to 44-42.
The Paterson ensuing inbounds pass went to Medlock who was quickly fouled but calmly sank both attempts from the foul line. The points provided the insurmountable, and final, four point lead.
Harris led the balanced Lions’ scoring parade with 16 tallies. Miller contributed 11 points while Byrd added nine. Paterson Head Coach Jerry Wimberly and the Lions continue in state tournament play by facing off against Wood-Ridge on March 5.
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