NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The West Essex boys basketball team is improving day by day. Their 78-55 victory over Montclair Kimberley Academy on Friday gives the Knights their second win in their last three games.
“It’s a nice little run,” said Knights head coach Bill Humes. "They’re playing well and starting to get comfortable with each other."
Chris Corbo helped the Knights out to a 15-13 lead with seven of his 14 points in the first quarter.
“[Corbo] is tough to guard when he can post you up and hit the three," said Humes. "We ran a little pick and pop with him, and they don’t guard the pop, and they’re worried about the guy rolling, and he hit it. There’s not that many guys that can hit the screen like that."
In the second quarter, West Essex began to master its “read-and-react” offense. The group produced 21 points with eight different scorers making baskets. The result was a 36-26 halftime lead.
“They finally understand how to run a pure read and react [system],” said Humes. "It’s not easy for young guys to get."
The Knights would pull away in the third period with another 20-plus point performance. Daniel Brener and Jack Montalto combined for 16 of the team’s 25 points in the frame. Eventually nearly a half dozen players finished with double digits in scoring for West Essex.
“We had four guys that were in the teens in scoring,” said Humes. "It was a very balanced team win."
West Essex is now 3-2 on the year. The youthful team is seemingly finding their way to get more cohesive with each passing game and practice.
“We’ve just got to stay focused,” said Humes. "They’re still a fairly young team we just have to stay hungry and focused."
Although the squad turned a corner on the season to get an above .500 record, the goal is to continue to build with the Essex County Tournament coming up later this month and an increased level of competition.
“We always look at our progression," said Humes. "We need to get better every day, there’s things we didn’t do well today that maybe we’ll work on tomorrow, so we don’t get exploited,” Humes said.
West Essex’s next game will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 7 as the Knights take on a 2-2 Belleville squad that hasn’t beaten the Knights since 2011.