SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The Raiders have continued to rumble past their competition, and their latest win against Cranford, 64-50, on Thursday night allowed the program to reach the best record its ever had in its first 18 games: 17-1. The win puts the team neck and neck with Rahway, whom will play the Raiders on Tuesday, in the UCC-Valley Conference.
In the opening minutes, Scotch Plains-Fanwood displayed that their offense would be too much for the Cougars to handle. The explosive arsenal of senior Nigel Nelson and juniors Tommy Drubulis and Cooper Heisey gave the Raiders a 10-2 lead within the first 3:10 minutes. Coupled with a defense that would give two inches of breathing space when a Cranford player held onto the ball, the game was the Raider’s from the start. From those first three minutes, SPFHS exhibited that their high motor would take care of the rest of the contest.
“The keys (to the game) were honestly just playing with effort and energy,” said Raider head coach Steve Siracusa.
The intensity gave everyone on the team inspiration to play to their potential. Ten players on the team scored at least once during the game.
“It’s (been getting everybody involved) all season,” said Siracusa. “Either someone steps up each game or we do it as team and we don’t care who gets the points we just want the win, and that’s the most important thing for us.”
Three players finished in double figures for SPFHS, senior Teddy Willmott (11 points), Nelson (10 points) and Heisey (10 points). With those three players in double figures, the Raiders had the supporting cast of five other people who scored at least four points help elevate the team on the offensive side of the hardwood.
The same could not be said for the Cougars, who could never find the proper way to penetrate the Raiders man-to-man defense. Only one player for Cranford could put in shots, and that was senior Chris Librera. The six-foot guard accounted for 19 of the 50 Cranford points, exceeding his points per game average of 16.2. The rest of the team wasn’t able to help out Librera and no other Cougar could manage over eight points.
Even if the program has been allergic to losing this season, the Raiders are still taking every game one at a time and not looking too far into the future, even with games of immense circumstances on deck.
“The Union County tournament, to be honest, is not even on my mind right now,” said Siracusa. “We got a big game against New Providence on Saturday and a huge conference game against Rahway away on Tuesday. We’re just trying to take one game at a time and the conference and the county will hopefully take care of itself when we get there.”
On the schedule, SPFHS will travel to New Providence on Saturday while Cranford will play away against Brearley on Monday.