Boys Basketball: Balanced Effort Without Leading Scorer Leads Raiders Past Cranford

Jay Williams scored 10 points in his first career varsity start. Credits: Matt Kipp

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — Sans Tommy Drubulis, Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s leading scorer, the Raiders were in need of someone to step up during their conference game against Cranford Thursday night. 

Not one player in particular solely dominated the game, but Jay Williams (10 points), Lamont Cruse (11 points, 10 rebounds, five assists), Dwight Laylor (13 rebounds), and Ryan Muench (11 points) teamed up to carry the Raiders, whose star point guard watched from the bench while recovering from a stomach virus, to a 49-37 victory.

While the Raiders won by a smaller margin than they would’ve hoped against a one-win team, they remain undefeated (7-0) and won their third conference game to move into a virtual tie of first place with Rahway. 

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On the heels of a career-high 22 points performance on Tuesday against Gov. Livingston, Lamont Cruse followed it up with another career milestone — his first double-double. Cruse grabbed five defensive and five offensive boards, while banking three field goals and converting five fouls shots. The senior helped ice the game by swishing two shots from the charity line with 29 seconds remaining. 

Joining Cruse on the backcourt was Jay Williams, a sophomore, who was making his first career varsity start in place of Drubulis. Six of Williams’ 10 points came in the first half, and he popped a huge three-pointer with one minute, 42 seconds remaining in the game, which gave his team some breathing room, extending the lead to three possessions (44-37). 26 seconds later, Williams came up with a huge block that prevented a would-be Cranford three point attempt. 

Sharpshooting Ryan Muench sunk a trifecta of three-pointers, and eight of his 11 points came in the first half. Dwight Laylor gave his team 14 different possessions with his 13 rebounds and one steal. 

To its credit, Cranford displayed scrappiness and looked much stronger than a one win, eight loss team. The Cougars were led by Jeremy Ruka, who connected on five three-pointers en route to a 15-point performance. 

Despite sitting in the Union County Conference Mountain Division’s basement, Cranford at one point late in the fourth quarter came within one possession of matching first place Scotch Plains-Fanwood. 

Scotch Plains-Fanwood controlled the lead for the entirety of the game, except for when Cranford jumped out to a 4-2 advantage one minute into play. 

It’s a quick turnaround for the Raiders, whose marathon week continues Friday evening with a 5:30 game against Roselle Park, the lone Group 1 team on SPF’s schedule. 

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