SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The scoreboard may not have been working at the Scotch Plains-Fanwood basketball gym Tuesday night, but the Raiders were able to still light up the hardwood, winning in overtime, 53-46, over the Rahway Indians.
The victory extended the Raiders' perfect season to 12-0 while propelling the team into sole possession of first place in their conference.
“That was a huge game tonight,” said SPFHS head coach Steve Siracusa.
Although the game ended with some heart-racing action, the beginning of the contest started out slow, with a first half consisting of sloppy play ending in a 24-18 Raider lead. The third quarter proved no different. Although Rahway’s offense, led by junior Keyshawn Cummings’ 15 points, started to flow, the game was still very low scoring with a 35-33 SPFHS lead.
Once the fourth quarter began, the play between both teams intensified. The Indians and Raiders traded three-pointers to open up the quarter, but then both teams tightened their defenses to force one another to find the perfect shot to capitalize. Ultimately, Siracusa believed the Raiders' fourth quarter defense was a pivotal part of the game.
“(The key to the game) was our defense towards the end. We had the ball tied up with about 30 seconds to go and we just made a great defensive stop. Once we got into overtime we just took care of the ball, we made some timely defensive stops and plays and they led to some easy baskets for us,” Siracusa said.
The overtime period saw the Raiders dominate. After giving up a basket at the start, SPFHS didn’t allow another point and let their offense seal the game. The victory proved to Siracusa that his team will never let up during a game.
“I’m proud of how our team responded,” said Siracusa. “We battled some adversity and they stayed together as a team, kept their composure. It's a huge win for us… we just have to take one game at a time.”
Keeping the Raiders together throughout the game though was the performances from their guards senior Teddy Willmott (11 points) and junior Tommy Drubulis (21 points). Although Willmott was this past week’s Union County Athlete of the Week, Drubulis was the player who took over the game.
“Tommy’s tough,” said Siracusa. “He is just a workhorse and he never gives up. He earns everything and it showed out her tonight. He works his butt off all year round and I’m happy for him because he deserves (this type of performance).”
And once again, the energy in the gym was a factor in helping the Raiders succeed.
“It was a great atmosphere,” said Siracusa. “We couldn’t have done it without our bench and without our fans. Everyone was involved and it made a great home atmosphere which I think was the difference.”
Next on the schedule for the Raiders will be another conference matchup at home Thursday night against Hillside while Rahway will travel to Summit on Saturday afternoon.