SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - The South Plainfield High School varsity boys basketball teams’ late surge wasn’t enough as the Tigers came up short in a hard fought loss against a very tough Colonia High School squad.
The Patriots (12-4) had leads as high as 23 points against the struggling Tigers (4-13) team losers of five straight, but once again, South Plainfield stood their ground and dropped their deficit down to 10. With 3:07 to go in the fourth, Lamont Williams nailed a 3-pointer that brought the home crowd to its feet, but Colonia charged right back on their ensuing trip up the court getting a basket and-1 that broke a full-court press to make it 60-48. All momentum was stopped.
Colonia would go onto win 64-51 and Tiger head coach Matt Connell shared his thoughts on the game afterwards.
“No. 1, hats off to Colonia, they’re beyond an awesome program,” Connell said. “They went to the Group III title game last year, so they have a bunch of winners on their team as well as coaching staff. They (Colonia) played very well and our guys just didn’t give up. We had a whole ton of guys get some time and they showed a lot of pride and heart.”
One of those guys off bench in the final frame was senior Patrick Waldrop. Waldrop showed some toughness including grabbing a steal, a couple rebounds, and draining a 3-pointer from the far corner which sent the bench and fans into a frenzy.
South Plainfield’s Will McLaughlin provided a scoring burst in the first quarter, scoring the team’s seven of their nine points, highlighted by a 3-pointer and a crossover step-back jumper that brought out some “ooh’s” and “ahh’s”.
Williams netted a team-high 20 points for South Plainfield.
Colonia was led by the duo of Chase Barneys (31 points) and Kolby Chapman (20 points) who had an ESPN Sports Center Top-10 worthy one-handed dunk off his steal on a breakaway early in the fourth. Connell talked about Barneys who drove to the rim and finished with acrobatic and athletic moves all night.
“He controls the game, offensively and defensively,” Connell said. “He scored a lot tonight. There are some games where he doesn’t score, but still has the same amount of impact on the game. He’s a great player.”
At the end of the first half, South Plainfield’s Jason Lee was elbowed in the face and received an ice pack and only played for a short time in the second half. When asked whether him being out affected how the team played in the final two quarters Connell said no.
Next up, the Tigers travel to Lawrenceville, N.J. to take on the Lawrence High School Cardinals on Saturday. Connell talked about how they’ll prepare and move on.
“We’ll have a late practice (tomorrow) and we’ll do what we’ve been doing and work on what we have to work on to get ready for Saturday and get better,” Connell said.