RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph boys basketball team improved to 10-4 on Saturday, Jan. 28 with a 72-52 victory over the Cougars of North 13th Street. Senior big man Luke Nathan led the charge for the Rams with an 18 point outing.  

The home gym saw its largest crowd so far this season, as there was a line out the door to see Randolph play on fan appreciation night; the Rams definitely did not disappoint.

Raandolph jumped out to a very early 16-2 lead, and never looked back. Nathan set the pace during this early run, slamming 12 first quarter points through the rim.

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“I was happy we got out to a great start because I thought we played fast,” said Rams coach Matt Tighe. “We opened up the game with two 5-second calls, and went up 10-0 by defending them very aggressively and then getting out and finishing at the rim.” .

The game's intensity rose dramatically midway through the first quarter when the Cougars star player James Brown was given a flagrant foul on a fast break layup taken by Randolph senior Chris Cheng. Brown swung hard at Cheng while he took the layup, resulting in some pushing and shoving that required separation.

“I thought when they tried to tackle us on one of the breakaways our guys kept their composure very well,” said Tighe “Our kids play physical and don't back down from anyone. They playeded very chippy, but we never let that stuff take us out of what we were focused on and that was winning the game. I am proud of that,”

The Rams finished the quarter with even more firepower as they blew their lead up to 22-6 at the end of one.

Randolph stayed hot in the second as Ryan Maughan opened up the quarter with a layup, which was quickly followed by junior Morgan Gleniewicz hitting a three ball, and Maughan tossing an alley-oop to Nathan.

“When you're winning it's fun,” said Nathan. “We were having fun and were very relaxed out there, which honestly helped us maintain our lead throughout the course of the game. It was great team basketball and a lot of fun in front of our fans.”

Tempers rose again late in the second quarter when Cougars big man Amyr Sommers shoved Nathan following a shooting foul committed on Brown. The shove led to Sommers getting a technical foul and two free points at the free throw line for Maughan.

“They definitely played a dirty brand of basketball but that’s okay,” said Nathan. “We kept to ourselves and within the rules of the game and allowed them to become frustrated with themselves. We had eachothers backs and were really connected as a team from their first dirty foul to their last.”

Randolph proceeded to close the first half strong, pushing their lead to 41-17, putting on a show for fan appreciation night.

During the halftime break, younger fans were given the chance to shoot threes on the varsity court. There were two lines, one of which featured the middle schoolers and the other one containing elementary school students. It was a great opportunity for the future Rams to get on the court and was a great touch to make fan appreciation night fun for the crowd.

Following the shoot-around, the Cougars came out of the locker room in an all-out press to try and force some turnovers, but Maughan and senior Justin Polesuk controlled the offense, allowing the Rams to extend their already large lead. Breaking the press led to two layups by Nathan and a quick three from Gleniewicz, and from there the game was all but over.

“We did a very good job of playing the game at whatever pace we wanted to,” said Maughn “Whether that was a fast pace in the beginning or a more relaxed pace during their second half press. Either way, controlling the pace of the game is something that Justin and I make an effort to do from the backcourt because it can go a long way,”

The Rams bench did a solid job of maintaining the lead as junior Drew Brown put the crowd on their feet with a slick reverse layup off the glass and a pair of three balls.

The game lost its control one more time as senior Dylan Minihane was on the floor and was jumped on by Sommers, leading to a lot more pushing and shoving  The game was very chippy and played with a lot of emotion, but the Rams eventually came out on top with a score of 72-52.

The Rams play again Tuesday Jan. 31 Jefferson High School where they will try and move their record to 11-4.