SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Christmas might have come and passed a few days ago, but some holiday traditions are still underway; specifically the ones that pertain to the hardwood. The first leg of the 8th Annual Anthony Cotoia boys’ high school basketball tournament took place at South Plainfield High School on Tuesday, and during an opening game, the host team found itself a daunting challenge.
The South Plainfield High School boys’ team (1-3) faced off against a surging Scotch Plains-Fanwood squad that took the court looking to preserve their undefeated 4-0 record, and prove that they were every bit as formidable as their record makes them look.
The Raiders probably had extra motivation to show they were more than a fluke (the team won three games all season last year, and has been a lower rung team in their conference the past few years), and they certainly went a long way in proving themselves in their performance against the Tigers.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood took advantage of a waning Tiger offense, kept their own offense firing, and cruised to a 60-46 win that knocked the hosting Tigers into the consolation rounds.
The early offensive woes of the Tigers allowed Scotch Plains-Fanwood to take control of the game from the opening whistle, and the visiting team never really came close to relinquishing it.
The shooting of the Tigers was wayward enough that the team didn’t get its first point until Will McLaughlin connected on two foul shots six minutes and three seconds into the game. South Plainfield didn’t connect on their first field goal (a 3-pointer from Dondre Tate) until there was just 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter. That shooting drought allowed the Raiders to start off the game on an 11-0 run which allowed them to cruise a 32-17 scoreline by halftime.
The Tigers offense finally got their bearings in the fourth quarter, where they outscored their opponent 18-11, but by then the Raiders had done more than enough damage to ensure a win.
While none of the Raiders put up stellar individual numbers, the team played a well balanced offensive game throughout the four quarters. 11 players on the Scotch Plains Fanwood roster ended the game with at least one bucket. Senior Nigel Nelson finished the game with ten points for the Raiders, two of which came from a fast-break dunk in the third quarter, while Teddy Wilmott also added in 10 points.
The leading scorer of the game was South Plainfield’s Dylan O’Connor, who connected on three 3-pointers.
The Tigers will face off against cross-town rival North Plainfield (3-1) in the tournament's consolation game at 2 p.m., while the Raiders will duel with J.P Stevens (2-2) in the final.