NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J. – New Providence did it to the Bulldogs again.
Senior Dylan Bedder’s offensive rebound and layup with seven seconds remaining lifted second-seeded and rival New Providence to a 60-58 come-from-behind victory over sixth-seeded and upstart Dayton Saturday in the semifinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 tournament in New Providence.
Trailing 32-23 at halftime, the Bulldogs stormed out in the second half and rallied for a 17-7 third quarter to take a 40-39 lead into the final stanza.
Sign Up for E-News
Dayton led by as many as seven points with 2:15 remaining and then the unthinkable happened, capped off by Bedder’s bucket.
“We left it all out there and that’s all you can ask. It was high school basketball at its best. This team was made up of a special group of young men and Saturday was another example of the heart and toughness they possess,” said Dayton head coach Robert Martin.
“Coaching is a double edge sword because as you get excited for the future, you realize you’ve coached your seniors for the last time," he said. "I’m proud of this team and in particular the seniors for what they accomplished. A conference championship will be theirs forever.”
Junior guard DJ Alicea finished his outstanding season with a game-high 17 points, senior guard Vinny Pulice added 15 points (all on 3-pointers) and senior guard Jaykwaan Chito posted 14 points for Dayton (17-7), which dropped just its third game in its last 10 to close out the season.
Senior forward Eugene Atkinson contributed eight points and senior forward Jonathan Stapleton chipped in with four points in the loss.
Alicea, a three-year starter and the first junior in Dayton history to eclipse the 1,000th-point mark, has scored in double figures in 46 consecutive games dating back to his sophomore campaign.
Bedder (10 points, 16 rebounds) and junior Sean Dillon (16 points, 12 assists), along with senior Greg Meyers (16 points), lead the way for the Pioneers (26-3), who finished with a 16-0 record at home and have won five straight and 15 of its last 16 games.
New Providence will play at top-seeded American History (19-7), which has won three straight and five of its last eight games, in Tuesday’s sectional final.
Dayton has lost seven straight games to New Providence with its last win, a 54-53 home triumph on Feb. 10, 2016.
Earlier this season, New Providence routed Dayton on the road in the opener for both schools, 66-26, on Dec. 14, 2018. The Pioneers went out to a 36-12 halftime lead and never looked back as Sean Dillon had 17 points with four 3-pointers and Dylan Bedder added 15 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.
Bulldog Bites: Currently, Alicea has 1,071 career points (571 this season) and is within 133 points for fourth place on the school’s all-time scoring list set by current assistant coach David Steinman (1,204 points, 2004-08) … Dayton finished 4-7 on the road this season.