NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- In its preparation for the Section 2, Group 2 state tournament next week, the Caldwell boys basketball team took on a pair of Union County opponents to start this week and came away with a split.

A strong fourth quarter enabled the Chiefs to close out a 45-39 home victory over Dayton of Springfield Monday night, but a hot New Providence team defeated Caldwell, 64-38, when the Chiefs went on the road for the second of back-to-back games Tuesday night.

Caldwell came back after trailing, 18-15, at halftime against Dayton. Senior forward Hank Morgan led the Chiefs with 14 points and sophomore Cristian Talavera finished with 12 points.

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While Monday's game was contested at Caldwell's preferred patient pace, on Tuesday, New Providence (8-15) turned the game into a higher tempo affair than Caldwell usually plays. After Talavera hit a 3-pointer to give Caldwell an early 7-3 lead, New Providence--the defending Group 1 state champion--scored the next 10 points to take a 13-7 lead that the Pioneers would build upon with torrid shooting and a fast pace.

New Providence hit 13 3-pointers in the game. Morgan finished with 16 points--all in the first three quarters before both teams used their benches extensively in the fourth quarter--for Caldwell, but the Chiefs were unable to shoot consistently from the perimeter to bring the focus of the New Providence defense away from Morgan.

Caldwell (17-6) will host Rutherford in the first round of the Section 2, Group 2 tournament Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Chiefs are seeded fourth, Rutherford 13th. Hackettstown and Newark Central are the top two seeds in the section. Caldwell has one regular-season game left, Thursday at Verona, before the state tournament begins.

Morgan, a 6-5 swingman with a good outside shot and a strong baseline game, is averaging 18.8 points per game, including a career-high 32 last week in a loss to Glen Ridge.