NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -- A dogged defense and a deliberate tempo have been calling cards for the Bernards boys basketball team, and Thursday night the Mountaineers worked both of those elements to their advantage to come away with a 42-32 victory over North Plainfield.
Senior forward Eddie Gambelli scored 20 points for Bernards (7-6), which went over .500 for the season.
After North Plainfield (4-9) scored the first five points of the second half to tie the game, 19-19, the Mountaineers took control by working the ball patiently for drives or layups against the Canucks' man-to-man defense.
Bernards scored 12 straight points to take a 31-19 lead. Gambelli had eight of those points. He started the run with a driving basket, then hit another drive plus a foul which he turned into a three-point play. James Vandenherik sank a three-pointer with a feed from James Guerrero, Andrew Holmes sank one of two foul shots, then Gambelli capped the spurt with another traditional three-point play after he scored on an emphatic baseline drive.
A 12-point lead is even more of a hill to climb with the Mountaineers setting a deliberate tempo and stifling North Plainfield's attack with a 1-3-1 defense that kept the Canucks from getting open shots while also creating plenty of opportunities for turnovers.
It actually took Bernards nearly four minutes into the game before it scored its first points. North Plainfield led, 13-10, early in the second quarter before Gambelli ignited the Mountaineers on a personal 9-0 run--Gambelli scored all nine of the points on an inside basket, a drive, a three-point play and two foul shots. Gambelli completed three "and-one" three-point plays in the game.
Holmes, playing center, picked up three fouls in the first half. When he was on the floor, he was a formidable contributor both on the glass and as a scorer. Holmes finished with 11 points.
Andrew Infusino and Chris Cody both played strong floor games to help Bernards set the tempo.
Bernards has now won three of its last four games and four of its last six. The Mountaineers had beaten North Plainfield, 43-35, on Jan. 7. Thursday's victory marked the 10th time in 13 games that the Mountaineers have held their opponents to 50 points or less.