WEST ORANGE, NJ – Junior forward Sterling Baker led the West Orange Mountaineers with 18 points and Carlo De Chavez added 16 as they outscored Newark Central 42-28 in the second half after being down by one at halftime en route to a 71-59 victory on Tuesday afternoon at West Orange High School.
The game started out in West Orange’s favor when De Chavez, who finished with nine points in the first, scored the first five points of the contest on a layup off a nice pass from teammate Isaiah Scott and a three pointer as they jumped to an early 5-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, De Chavez hit another three ball followed by a lay in transition by Scott as West Orange went on a 12-2 run through the first 5 or so minutes of the game.
“I was confident coming in. That’s just me. It comes with my game,” De Chavez commented.
Newark Central was able to draw within two later in the first with some hot shooting from Keyshawn Savage who scored 10 points for his team in the first eight minutes including two three pointers.
With the score knotted at 17 a piece with time winding down in the opening frame, Scott hit a three ball with just over 30 seconds remaining as West Orange took a 20-17 lead after the first.
The second quarter saw both teams start out cold shooting and the defenses stepped up as well.
West Orange scored their first basket a few minutes in off one of several De Chavez’s no look passes when he found Scott underneath who bumped their lead back up to three at 22-19.
Keeping pace, Newark Central would enjoy their first lead of the game when Elijah Melvin hit a pair of free throws to give the away team a 23-22 advantage with just under five minutes left until halftime.
Vance Rochester hit a three pointer for West Orange later in the second, before Newark Central went on a 7-2 run to close out the half when they held a 30-29 advantage.
“We played poorly in the first half. The biggest issue more than anything else was lack of energy,” West Orange Head Coach Mark Cacciacarne said. “We have a young team. It’s been a long season. At halftime we were fortunate to go in only down one and I essentially said to my team, ‘the team that wins this game is the team that outworks the other team,’” he added.
The young West Orange team, which only had one returning varsity player to start the season in De Chavez, took that message to heart when they opened the third quarter with a 10-4 run.
Derek Porter hit from long distance to start things off for West Orange. De Chavez then had a couple of pretty assists when he found Scott and Baker for baskets before pulling off a tremendous spin move in the paint as he converted on a layup that gave his team a 38-34 lead with about 4:20 left in the third.
After some back and forth action, West Orange went on a 6-1 run to close out the quarter as they grabbed a 47-41 heading into the fourth.
“The difference in the second half was we played so much harder. We played with much more desire, energy, effort and enthusiasm,” Caccicarne said. “One of the major points in our scouting report was to stop them in transition. As long as we were able to defend them in transition then we can always look to be opportunistic when we run,” he added.
The transition game was huge for West Orange all afternoon long as they scored 30 points on fast break opportunities. Along with getting up the floor when Newark Central missed some long distance shots, West Orange also did a solid job of breaking the opposition’s full court press to create some easy opportunities from close range.
They were able to continue to work in those facets of the game in the final quarter of play when they scored 10 of the first 12 points. Morgan Garrison and Rochester each hit a layup after a couple of Newark Central turnovers before De Chavez put in yet another three ball followed by a Baker basket from underneath as West Orange was up 56-43.
Good outside shooting kept Newark Central in the game as they were down by just 5 with more than three minutes left in the game, but than West Orange regained their big advantage with some more transition baskets after Newark Central players missed from long range. They were up comfortably, 65-53 with just over a minute remaining.
“Coach talked to us and said we needed to pick our intensity up. In the first half we didn’t play hard enough. We made a good run in the fourth quarter. It was a good win,” De Chavez said after the game.
With the win, West Orange improves to 8-15 in a thus far up and down season. They have some time off to prepare for a tough Essex County opponent in Bloomfield next Monday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. at West Orange High School.
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