VERONA, NJ - The Verona Boys Basketball Team is advancing to their second consecutive North One Group One State Section Semifinal after a 79-31 victory over Woodridge on Thursday.
“Since we’re defending champs we have a target on our back and everyone wants to come out and beat us, but we just have to come out every game and play hard,” said Travis Jocelyn
From the onset Verona seemed confident that a victory would be inevitable. The Hillbillies would outwork, outshoot and outmuscle their Woodridge counterparts in route to a 23-7 first quarter lead.
“We’re going to play defense, we’re going to come at you, make you turn the ball over and get some easy looks that way,” said Verona Head Coach Eric McElroy.
Jocelyn was instrumental in the teams dominant first quarter protecting the rim defensively and securing key rebounds on both sides of the court. Jocelyn utilized his size to produce 11 first quarter points along with three blocks and two assists.
“I was just really hyped up today, everyone was really pumped up with energy and it really got me going and I started playing really well,” said Jocelyn.
Jocelyn’s coach went on to elaborate on the importance of having him in the lineup as a safety net for the teams perimeter defense.
“We put some pressure on the ball and it makes it easier for them knowing you have [Jocelyn] sitting back there and if your man does get by you he can help with one of those big blocks or even taking a charge,” said McElroy.
Verona continued with a unified scoring effort in the second and third quarter to ensure an easy victory. Zack Zaccone and Jack Farrell combined for 14 of the teams’ points during the second and third quarter respectively. Zaccone finished with 12 points on the night while Farrell quietly had 13 points while running the teams’ offense at the point guard position.
“We all know what we’re capable of, we play to each other’s strengths and it really helps a lot,” said Jocelyn of his teammates abilities.
Verona’s victory improves the team to 21-5 on the season as they’ve won seven consecutive games. The top seeded Hillbillies will host the winner of four seeded Bogota and five seeded Paterson Charter School on Saturday at Verona High School.
For the Hillbillies the preparation for the Section Semifinal began the minute the buzzer rang out on Thursday night. The team feels it’s just another step in their destiny to defend their Sectional Crown.
“We live game by game, we’ll start preparing for [our next opponent] now. This wasn’t our goal, we’ve got much more ahead,” said Eric McElroy