CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Verona boys basketball team is peaking before the playoffs after a 73-39 victory over Cedar Grove on Saturday.
“We shot pretty well. We played good defense. We got points off turnovers, we got contributions from everybody,” said Head Coach Eric McElroy.
The Verona offense was sluggish to start, but ultimately found their rhythm. A 22 point first quarter run ensued for The Hillbillies who saw five different scorers collect baskets. Andrew Emanuilidis was the key catalyst with 11 points in the frame enroute to 13 for the contest. He collected double digits in scoring in every game against Cedar Grove this season.
“[Emanuilidis] seemed to like that ball, it’s a different ball, and we haven’t played with a ball like that, but he shot well,” said McElroy.
More Verona dominance ensued in the second quarter with the group adding 21 points to stake themselves to a 23 point lead. Graham Weber added eight points in the frame for an eventual game-high 16 on the afternoon.
“We’ve been reliant on the bench a lot. We have 12 guys that are constant contributors,” said McElroy.
The Hillbillies utilized what is a deep roster to continue to cruise to victory. By game’s end the Verona bench had produced 41 points on the game with five non-starters scoring.
“There’s a lot of maturation from those kids on the bench. They have gotten better, stronger, faster,” said McElroy.
For the Panthers the game became a personification of what has become a season of lost opportunities. By game’s end the Panthers had dropped to 4-18 with losing five of their last six games. One of Cedar Grove’s lone bright spots was point guard Anthony Bilotta who produced a team-high 11 points.
Verona’s victory improves their team to 13-9 on the year as they’ve now won five of their last four games. The Hillbillies have outscored their opponents 223 to 167 in their last four games as they get ready for the State Playoffs.
“I think we’re playing well I hope it’s peak level,” said McElroy.
Verona will play one final regular season game against Glen Ridge on Tuesday before the opening round of the North Two Group Two State Playoffs where they will take on West Side High School.
“We have a tough game against Glen Ridge on Tuesday and then nothing until West Side, but it’s good to be playing better basketball right now,” 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.