SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- For a while it looked like Scotch Plains-Fanwood's boys basketball team might extend its modest two-game winning streak to three games against arch rival Westfield on Tuesday evening. The Raiders, who previously were embarrassed by the Blue Devils, 55-20, on Jan. 9, went into half-time with a spring in their step and an 8-point lead, 31-23, on their home court.

"We really pounded the ball to our bigs in the paint in the first half which helped us early on," said Raiders varsity coach Steve Siracusa after the game. “Our team played their hearts out tonight, unfortunately it just didn’t end with a win. I am so proud of the effort, energy and teamwork they displayed tonight."

The lead evaporated during the third quarter during which Westfield (11-3) outscored the Raiders, 19-9. The Blue Devils ultimately surged past Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the second half for a hard fought 59-51 victory.

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"We came out in the third quarter and had some turnovers which Westfield really capitalized on," Siracusa said. "I have to give Westfield credit; they are a very talented and tough team, and they showed it tonight."

Griffin Rooney scored 21 points to lead the Blue Devils, while sharpshooter Jake Walsh connected on five 3-pointers to finish with 17 points for Westfield.

Jaden Carter led Scotch Plains-Fanwood with 12 points, while Liam Mahr and Justin Grey both had 10 points.

"From our last contest against Westfield to tonight’s game, I can say our team definitely improved and are playing much better as of late," Siracusa said. "From day one, our goal was to get better every day, and I’m encouraged to see the improvement of our team throughout this season so far.”

Westfield improved to 11-3 with the victory, while Scotch Plains-Fanwood dropped to 4-10. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily local news source. Sign up for our free daily eNewsletter and “Like” us on Facebook and Twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.