CALDWELL, NJ - The Cedar Grove boys basketball Team is still trying to find their way following a 61-40 loss in the Holiday Tournament to West Essex on Thursday.

    “I don’t think we’re real far off.  I think we have a ton of potential on this team we’re just not executing properly,” said Cedar Grove Head Coach T.J. Jones.

    West Essex stormed out to an 18-point lead after one quarter of play. Turnovers and missed shots coupled with a fast and perfectly timed Knights offense led to a 17-0 scoring run that doomed the Panthers to a game of catch up for the contest. 

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    “Half of it was we weren’t getting to the right spots at the right times, it was just a lack of execution,” said Jones. 

    The Knights were able to see scoring from the unit as a whole making it difficult for Cedar Grove to key in and stop one individual. Three players reached double digits for West Essex on the afternoon.

    “[West Essex] is playing really hard, they are defending at a high level, and they are going, they have a high paced offense and they hit a bunch of shots in the beginning,” said Jones.

    The Panthers finally corrected their play in the middle quarters of the game. The group would tightly play West Essex to the tune of 24-23 for the second and third quarters combined and even forced 11 Knights turnovers. 

    “Right now we’re in a one quarter warm up stage until we start playing,” said Jones.

    A lone bright spot for Cedar Grove came in the form of Nico Mihalik. Mihalik collected a team-high 11 points as he desperately tried to rally the squad to no avail. Mihalik has averaged over 10 points per game in the opening three games for the Panthers this year. 

    “[Mihalik] had a hell of an offseason putting work in the gym getting bigger, stronger, and he’s the kind of guy right now that’s staying after practice shooting, and working…he’s deservingly getting his 10 points per game,” said Jones.

    For Cedar Grove this will be a continued learning effort that the team must overcome to fully grasp and master the squad’s offense. Once the group plays more fluid and less mechanical the results in forms of victories are expected to pile up.

    “Once we get guys who are comfortable and know what we have to do to execute the offense they can feel it a little bit and be able to play out of it,” said Jones.

    Cedar Grove will drop to 0-3 on the season as they are still in search of their elusive first victory of the year. The group will have a quick turnaround as they will play Verona in the consolation round of the Holiday Tournament on Saturday.

    “We’re going to come back tomorrow we’ll walk through in the afternoon, and we’re looking to get our first win tomorrow,” said Jones.

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.

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