UNION, NJ -- Trailing or even with Woodbridge for the first 31 of 32 minutes on Sunday, Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s undefeated start was in grave jeopardy.
With 23 seconds in the game remaining, after continuously battling back and always being countered by Woodbridge, the Raiders finally jumped ahead and stayed on top for good.
Jack Brady hit a three-pointer in the game’s 32nd and final minute to give his team a 53-51 lead and propel the Raiders to a 54-51 statement victory over Woodbridge in the Eric LeGrand Games at Kean University Sunday night. The Raiders remain undefeated (9-0) heading into their biggest game to date against Rahway on Tuesday.
Tommy Drubulis dropped 15 points, as Lamont Cruse scored 13 and Brady added 11 in the Raiders’ victory, while Dwight Laylor pumped in nine points and nine rebounds. Ke’sean Glover scored a game-high 16 for Woodbridge, which held a 40-38 advantage entering the decisive fourth quarter.
Brady’s three-pointer capped off an exhilarating come-from-behind victory for the Raiders, who at one point in the first half trailed by double-digits. The senior’s three ball marked only the Raiders’ second lead of the night, their first coming on Ryan Muench’s tip-in to put the team ahead by a possession a while earlier. Muench also hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 46 three minutes before Brady’s bucket from downtown.
"Tonight's game was a great challenge for us against a very tough Woodbridge team. Although we struggled to hit shots and finish around the basket early and were trailing almost the entire game," said Raiders head coach Steve Siracusa. "I am proud how our kids never gave up, stayed together, and handled adversity."
The coach said his team hit some big shots late and most importantly, had two big defensive stops in the last minute when they needed it most.
"It was a nice win for us at a great facility in Kean University and hopefully we use this momentum into a big week of conference games," Siracusa added.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood entered halftime with a two point deficit and that margin stayed the same after the third quarter. But the Raiders carried momentum into the fourth and outscored the Barrons, 18-11, in the final frame to eventually jump ahead. After Brady’s go-ahead three, Justin Guy hit a clutch free throw to extend the lead to three points. A Woodbridge desperation shot that would have sent the game to overtime barely rimmed out in the final seconds.
After Woodbridge opened up the game with fire, Scotch Plains-Fanwood responded with a 12-2 run and got even for the first time when Tommy Drubulis hit a three-pointer with two minutes, ten seconds remaining before halftime. Drubulis’ bucket knotted the game up at 22 apiece, but Woodbridge would answer back and take a 28-26 advantage into the locker room.
Woodbridge jumped out to 17-10 lead after the first quarter, with Glover scoring seven of his game-high 16 points that opening frame. The Raiders did an excellent job of stopping Glover after his first quarter performance, as he only sunk two more field goals for the rest of the game.
Accumulating a total of 13 fouls, the Raiders were stung by Woodbridge shooting 87.5 percent from the free throw line.
While Sunday night’s victory marks a signature victory on a large stage for the Raiders, the team’s next game is arguably more important. With first place in the Union County Conference Valley Division on the line, Scotch Plains-Fanwood travels to take on rival Rahway Tuesday night. Both teams are overall undefeated and 3-0 in the conference.