LIVINGSTON, NJ -- The Caldwell boys basketball team survived a severe test to remain undefeated with a 57-53 victory over Newark Academy on Friday.
The Chiefs (4-0) twice had a three-point lead in the final minute of regulation, only to have Newark Academy (1-3) tie the game in the waning seconds, 47-47, to force overtime.
Once in overtime, junior guard Brendan O'Donnell scored four of his team-high 18 points and Hank Morgan and Kyle Ross each scored three points for Caldwell, which outscored the Minutemen, 10-6, in OT.
Caldwell never trailed by more than one point in the second half, leading by as many as six points late in the third quarter. After Newark Academy took a 42-41 lead with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs scored off their full-court press when Morgan deflected an inbounds pass right under the basket and Ross turned the deflection into an immediate layup and a 43-42 lead with 1:20 left.
Sophomore guard Christian Talavera, who finished with 11 points, sank both ends of a one-and-one with 46 seconds left to give Caldwell a 45-42 lead. Chase Clarke, who led Newark Academy with 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists, sank a jumper in the lane with 19 seconds left to bring the home team back to within one, 45-44, before O'Donnell hit two foul shots a second later for a 47-44 Caldwell lead--the last points for the Chiefs before overtime.
While Newark Academy's defense was denying Morgan, Caldwell's leading scorer this season, open shots for much of the game, Caldwell guards O'Donnell and Talavera picked up the slack in the first half. With Newark Academy leading by four, Caldwell scored nine points in a row early in the second quarter to take a 24-19 lead. But Newark Academy came right back with five points from four different players for a 24-24 tie.
Caldwell, though, took a 26-24 lead just before the half on a pinpoint interior pass from Ross to forward Mike Giannetta for a layup with three seconds left.
The Chiefs will put their undefeated record on the line next against Arts High School in Newark on Tuesday, Jan. 7.