RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph boys basketball team lost their home opener to a highly touted Saint Peter’s Prep team on Saturday, December 17th.
The Rams came off a dominating performance in their season opener in which they blew out Sparta by 16 points, but were not able to carry their hot shooting and energy into Saturday’s game.
Saturday’s game was a match-up of the giants,as Saint Peter’s two seven footers battled the Rams senior big man, Luke Nathan, who is 6 foot 9. It was a tough assignment for Nathan, having to alternate between guarding not one, but two seven footers.,
“Luke faired well against their big guys,” said Rams coach Matt Tighe. “He got off to a hot start and then had some foul trouble which changed how aggressive he could be. We have complete confidence in Luke and feel like there isn’t a big guy on our schedule that he needs help with.”
The Rams struck first as Nathan hit a turnaround jumper in the face of the Marauders big man Ryan Omslaer to give Randolph a 2-0 lead. For the remainder of the first quarter the game remained neck and neck; Saint Peter’s led by a score of 13-12 after the quarter finished.
“I think we did a great job of hanging with a team like Saint Peter’s,” said Nathan. “If it weren’t for some early foul trouble and some shots just not falling, the score and our momentum would have been totally different. They came into the second quarter with more firepower due to our foul trouble. A quick turn-around in the score like this shows us the importance of playing disciplined defense.”
The Marauders utilized the Rams foul trouble and came at Randolph with stifling defense and fast transitions early in the second. This defense led to quick points for the Marauders leading scorer Brendan Thiele as he knocked down a three and two layups in a big 12-3 run that pushed the lead to 29-19; a lead that Saint Peter’s never lost.
“I think this tough Saint Peter’s defense should make other defenses we play against seem much easier to work through,” said Tighe. “From a coaching standpoint it forced us to really look at our screening technique and how physical we are because. Although I believe us missing shots was a big part of that outcome, we need to help the guys better generate looks on offense.”
The Rams seemed to adjust to the airtight Peter’s defense as they came out of the halftime break with more ball protection and smoother offensive possessions. The Rams cut the Marauder’s nine point halftime lead to a 4 point, 33-29 deficit after a big three pointer by Senior point guard Ryan Maughan with 2:45 remaining in the third.
“I really thought that the three pointer was a huge momentum shift for us,” said Maughan. “We were coming off a few nice defensive stops and some good offensive possessions that cut down the lead. They are a very talented team that eventually bounced back. I’m proud of the way we fought.
The Rams played well in the third, only losing the quarter by one point, making the score 42-31. Being down by only eleven, the Rams were still in position for a late game run. The Rams scored the first points of the fourth quarter but were immediately trumped by the Saint Peter’s defense.
“I really thought we were going to do something special in the fourth quarter against a really good team,” said junior starter Mario Haklaj. “And for a little we did. Eventually they were able to get their offense moving again but I loved the way we fought. They are a good team and we are already moving our focus to our next game,”
Saint Peter’s slowly closed the door on the Rams, playing great defense through the end. Saint Peter’s came out on top of a hard fought and chippy game with a score of 60-40 to bump the Rams to 1-1.
“This will be one of the toughest games we play this season so a loss like this to a, ‘soon to be’ top fifteen team in the state, is not something to be worried about,” said Tighe. “This is a learning experience as we now know things we can work on to improve our game. We are focused on our next contest and ones to follow.”
In the season opener against Sparta, the Rams rode a 3-point shooting barrage from Andrew Fusco, who dropped in six three’s on his way to a game high 26 points in the win. Nathan added 12 and Maughan collected 10.
The Rams hit the court again at 7:00 on Wednesday night at home against Morris Knolls.