VERONA, NJ - The Verona Hillbilly boys basketball team is starting off their season on the right track after a 64-53 victory over Boonton gives the team their first winning streak of the young season.
“I’ll take it. I think we played a really solid defense, the offense needs definite work,” said Head Coach Eric McElroy.
The Verona offense was sparked in the third quarter as they held just a six-point lead coming out of the half. Six different scorers helped the Hillbillies out to a 28 point third quarter output and a 16-point lead.
“The third quarter was great, the bench was great in the third quarter…I think we can play nine, ten, or eleven guys, if someone is not shooting somebody else on the bench can definitely pick it up,” said McElroy.
One of the key players in the third came off the bench in the form of Andrew Meyer. Meyer collected 10 of his 12 points in the frame for Verona.
“[Meyer] has got a motor, he doesn’t stop playing. He’s great around the rim, a great finisher…he’s been playing great, we’re going to have to find some more minutes for him,” said McElroy.
The Bombers would not quit, however utilizing their deadly three-point shooting game to come within single digits of Verona. When the game neared another turning point the Hillbillies looked to Derek Jocelyn and others to steady the course. Jocelyn produced seven of his game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter to help Verona pull away.
“I’m pretty much driving, getting by my man and getting some good shots at the rim,” said Jocelyn.
For Jocelyn he is now averaging over 10 points per-game on the young season as he continues to be a consistent scoring threat on the ever-evolving Hillbilly offense.
“They couldn’t get in front of [Jocelyn], they couldn’t stop him,” said McElroy.
A key moment would happen midway through the fourth quarter as Boonton was making their run. A technical foul resulted in four foul shots for Verona by Cael Zebrowski. Zebrowski calmly put all four down to help the home team pull away.
“That was huge, we saw them the other day we knew they were going to be a little emotional coming in and I told them we can’t get into that game of talking on the floor and all that nonsense. We figured that might play into it a little bit…[Zebrowski]’s a great shooter, and he knocked those four down in a row which was big,” said McElroy.
Verona will now boast a 2-0 record as they head into the Holiday Tournament with local rivals Caldwell, Cedar Grove and West Essex. They will open the tournament playing against a tough challenge in Caldwell on Friday.
“We’ve got our hands full with Caldwell on Friday they’re a very good team, so we’ve got to definitely get to work and it’s going to be tough,” said McElroy.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.