SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Tigers boys' seventh grade travel basketball team topped off its inaugural season by beating Parsippany 41-32 in the championship game last night at the PAL. There was a huge crowd on hand supporting the team, and the boys fed off the electricity in the building.
Having played Parsippany in a tight 45-41 Tiger win earlier in the season, the Tigers had a plan. The plan was to attack the Parsippany front court, in hopes of neutralizing its high-scoring backcourt, and the boys were up to the task. All night South Plainfield battled and scraped for every loose ball, contested jump shots, and denied the opposing big men from getting comfortable down on the blocks. By employing a box-in-one defense, the opposing point guards never really got into a groove.
TJ Massaro pestered the point all night, while guards Mikey Marrero and Cliffy Adkins took away the passing lanes. The rotation of Ian McCoid, Brian Maszczak and Ryan Massett neutralized the “Big’s” down on the blocks. When Adkins picked up his third personal foul late in the second quarter, Matt Cassio was inserted at guard, and the Tigers' stellar defense didn’t skip a beat. They held the Parsippany team scoreless in the second quarter and led 22-9 at the half. That fact eluded the coaches, until reserve forward Vito Tartza pointed it out in the huddle.
Parsippany came out in the third quarter and made their expected run, but got no closer than six points. Justin “J-man” Jones came off the bench and helped close out the quarter. The highlight was when he unselfishly passed up an open look and hit a wide open Massaro who sunk a mid-range jumper as the third quarter expired. South Plainfield never looked back.
The fourth quarter started with some good ball movement and clutch free-throw shooting. The Tigers never let Parsippany back in the game. Key substitutes, Cassio, Jones, and Tartza, were inserted late as a reward for all their hard work and sacrifice this season.
South Plainfield’s coaches said, “we couldn’t be prouder of the team’s accomplishments this season.“ The Tigers finished with a record of 16-3, won the Green Brook Shootout in February, were regular season league co-champions, and won the Garden State Basketball Central Division title outright.
Even with all that, the coaches said, “what made us most proud, was how the boys came together, understood their individual roles, and accomplished these achievements as a team.