SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- By no means was it the most beautiful of wins, but after a crushing defeat on Tuesday, a victory of any sorts was much needed for Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
Finding themselves a possession or two behind for the majority of Thursday’s divisional game against Hillside, the Raiders grew life in the fourth quarter and eventually pulled out a 48-46 overtime victory at home. Scotch Plains-Fanwood bounced back from a heartbreaking loss against Rahway just two days ago, and moves into second place in the Union County Conference Valley Division as a result of its win and Summit’s loss — also to Rahway — earlier on Thursday.
Tied at 41 points apiece at the end of regulation, the Raiders outscored the Comets, 7-5, during the four minute overtime period. Jack Brady, who scored a game-high 16 points, banked a “jelly” up-and-under-layup with one minute, 20 seconds remaining in OT to provide the Raiders with a 45-43 lead. Lamont Cruse sunk three free throws during the final 26 seconds to secure the Raiders’ 10th victory of the season.
Brady, who has delivered in the clutch in seemingly every game this week, helped lead a fourth quarter Scotch Plains-Fanwood surge that pushed the game into OT. Though the Raiders entered the final frame trailing, 33-28, Brady hit a deft fadeaway jumpshot from midrange that tied the game at 39 with one minute, 40 seconds remaining in the fourth. 20 seconds later, Lamont Cruse stole the ball at half court and banked a layup that gave the Raiders a 41-39 lead — their first since earlier in the opening quarter.
Tommy Drubulis, who scored 11 points and shot 9-of-10 from the free throw line, also came in huge during the fourth quarter. He was a perfect six-for-six from the stripe during the frame.
Lamont Cruse added nine points, all of which came in the second half and overtime.
A very athletic Hillside team was paced by Steve Samuels (13 points), Kalleem Lambert (11 points), and Boris Nicolas-Paul (9 points). Samuels tied the game at 41, which is the score that both teams entered OT with, when he hit two free throws in the fourth quarter’s winning minutes.
Hillside entered the game strong and took a 16-12 lead into halftime. Scotch Plains-Fanwood was limited to just four total field goals during the opening half, which could possibly indicate that the Raiders were still feeling a bit of the effects from playing their hearts out and falling in such dramatic fashion just 48 hours before.
Strong foul shooting was not limited to Drubulis. As a team, the Raiders shot 18-for-24 (75 percent) from the line.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s next game is a rather big one. For the second time in a calendar week, the Raiders will play at Kean University, as they take on defending Central Group 4 champion Hunterdon Central in the Investors Games on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.