CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Cedar Grove Panthers boys basketball team is still finding their way to a team identity following a 64-40 loss to Glen Ridge at home on Saturday.

    “We held some of their guys down a little bit.  They made some tough shots over some good defensive plays and unfortunately for us we’re still having those mental mishaps and being out of position and teams that are that good execute in those positions and that’s where the game gets away from us,” said Panthers Head Coach T.J Jones. 

    The Ridgers offense was impressive at times producing 30 points in the first half, but Cedar Grove wasn’t without opportunities. A shooting percentage around an estimated 30% cost the Panthers with layups and three pointers alike rimming out. 

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    “We have to have a little more faith in each other that someone’s going to make a play and right now with the couple of bounces we’ve been getting these last couple of games we don’t have that,” said Jones.

    Ultimately double and even triple teams coupled with a lack of scheme comprehension befell Cedar Grove to a 16 point halftime deficit. 

    “We’re still working on meshing together and finding that chemistry on the offensive end of the floor,” said Jones. 

    Despite the floundering on the offensive end, several pieces have emerged that give Cedar Grove hope for the future of this season. Sophomore Eric Mazal produced nine points for the Panthers off the bench. The youngster has grown into a player who’s seen significant time for the squad over the last several games. 

    “[Mazal] is a talented kid, he can shoot the ball a bit, he can get to the rim, he has a good feel for the game on the offensive end...as a sophomore if he puts the work in he’s going to continue to get better,” said Jones.

    Junior forward Nico Mihalik has also grasped the offense fairly well for the Panthers. Mihalik has averaged nearly double-digit scoring in every game this season and has also transitioned to a point-forward position to facilitate the offense.

    “[Mihalik] is doing a good job of getting to the rim and scoring for us there, but we’re playing him more out on the perimeter [due to team need] as opposed to cutting to the post,” said Jones.

    For Cedar Grove the season thus far has been a struggle with a 1-7 record. The group has lost several tight games, which could have produced a different narrative and attitude as the county tournament nears, but regardless they are working tirelessly to correct the course. 

    “It’s just finding the right mesh, that right fit and style of play and being able to trust each other to be able to make plays,” said Jones.

    The panthers will have the opportunity to break their two game losing streak when they take on Technology on Tuesday..

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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