GREEN BROOK, NJ - The South Plainfield Tigers seventh grade boys PAL Travel Basketball team won its first tournament this weekend. In its inaugural season, the Tigers team decided to enter the local tournament. The Tigers are the first PAL-sanctioned basketball team in South Plainfield. In the tournament South Plainfield was slotted to take on both Morristown and Bernardsville.
In the opening round game against Morristown, the shorthanded Tigers won a nail biter, 40-37. It was a gutsy performance by all the boys as they battled from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Matty “Nacho” Cassio, inserted into the starting lineup for the first time, staked the Tigers to a 2-0 lead with an opening jumper. Cliffy “Beep Beep” Adkins quarterbacked the Tigers' up-tempo attack from the point, as Mikey Marrero made a living driving the hoop and leading the Tigers with 21 points. Brian “Boots” Maszczack instilled his will on the boards and TJ “Ed Reed” Massaro had numerous steals to frustrate the Morristown team. Justin “J-man” Jones chipped in with some timely baskets, while Vito Tartza and Sammy Wolak gave the team quality minutes off the bench. Connor Eggert, a key reserve, was sidelined with a broken wrist.
In the finals, the Tigers, at full strength, took on a veteran Bernardsville team that had put up 65 points in its opening-round game against South Brunswick. The Tigers went into the game knowing they had to play a tight “zone” defense to try and thwart Bernardsville’s back-door-slashing offensive attack. The boys were up to the task. They raced to an early lead, which they never relinquished.
The smothering Tigers defense kept the Bernardsville offense out of the paint all game, and the quartet of Maszczack, Ian McCoid, Massaro and Ryan Massett controlled the boards all game. The stingy Tigers defense held their opponent scoreless in the second quarter and led 18-7 at the half. The Tigers, using a ten-man rotation, rotated fresh legs in and out throughout the second half. It was a total team effort, as the Tigers coasted to a 36-24 win.
The Tigers had three players, Marrero, Maszczack, and Massaro, make the all-tournament team. Marrero was named tournament MVP. They were chosen by the opposing teams’ coaches.
The boys resume their Garden State Basketball League schedule Tuesday night. With three divisional games remaining, the Tigers at 9-2 and currently in second place in their division, will look to solidify their playoff position.