ROXBURY, NJ - The scene was set: Roxbury vs. Randolph on the basketball court. It’s a rivalry that makes each game between the two boys basketball teams a bit more dramatic.
The Randolph High School gym was packed with fans Thursday night. Only one team could come out victorious.
Roxbury’s student section had its “beach night” theme for the game and it was ready to be loud. Randolph supporters also showed up, but their ranks were not nearly as large as were Roxbury’s.
Anticipation was high for the game and right from the tip, Roxbury showed that its offense was effective. It scored four quick points in the opening minutes. Leading the offensive charge for the Gaels were senior Anthony McMyne and junior Steven Loreng.
With its back to a wall, Randolph responded by going on its own run early in the game, led by junior guard Ben Kapinos and sophomore big man Luke Nathan. Randolph worked its way right back into the game.
Roxbury then tightened up on defense, not allowing the Rams to get any easy scores. Juniors Jack Clevenger and Dante Sworn had solid defensive games by not letting their match ups get to the rim or fire up any uncontested shots.
Senior big man Doug Alexander did well on the 6-7 Nathan as he was held to only a couple of buckets in the first half. Roxbury also did well on offense getting to the rim with ease and knocking down shots when open. The score at halftime was 23-12 in favor of the Gaels.
Coming out of the half, Randolph was able to answer to some of Roxbury’s full court press. It was able to get some easy scores early in the third. However, Roxbury made some defensive adjustments and settled down the offensive rush. The Gaels were able to keep Randolph down with great defensive effort all around. Randolph struggled to score, which helped Roxbury turn defense into offense.
Going to the fourth quarter, Roxbury had a comfortable 12-point lead. The offense’s barrage kept coming for the Gaels. They continued to increase their lead as the game wore down.
However, the Rams would not go out quietly in the rivalry they’d been waiting for. They started to come back in a late-game run that would cut the lead to nine for Roxbury.
But Roxbury Coach John Deeb called a timeout to settle down his team and make sure his players knew what to do in the few remaining minutes. Afterward, the Gaels continued to stop the Randolph offense and make free throws.
Alexander and Loreng landed some clutch free throws towards the end to seal the deal for Roxbury. The final score was 51-38 as Roxbury received an important Morris County win.
The Gaels should receive a high seed at the upcoming Morris County Tournament meeting Jan. 25. Regardless of the seed receive, the Gaels will start to prepare for Morris Knolls on Jan. 27.