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Quarter Surge Propels Bernards Past Metuchen, 54-38
By Greg Machos
December 29, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, NJ--Coming into its consolation game against Bernards from the Skyland Conference in the Joe Pepe Tournament at Jonathan Dayton High School, the relatively young Metuchen Bulldogs had already accomplished a great deal. In its first four games, MHS won two of them and played competitively in one of its two losses, a 57-51 defeat to Port Richmond of Staten Island in the opening round of the tourney. However, the game against the Mountaineers showed that Metuchen still has a long way to go despite showing some flashes of brilliance in the second half.
Led by Ryan Zeccola and backcourt mate Jack Riordan, the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-5 first quarter lead, and led by as many as 30 points in the second half before winning 54-38. Zeccola had a game high 19 points on eight field goals including three treys while also pulling down 8 rebounds. Riordan chipped in with 14 points on five field goals including four threes while Duncan Salek added 8 points on three field goals and two foul shots. Ryan Walker helped orchestrate the Moutaineers offense with 5 assists along with his 5 points. Metuchen was led by sophomore Brian Eustace with a team high 12 points while junior Ryan O'Neill chipped in with 7 points.
Bernards outscored the Bulldogs in each of the three quarters to take a 47-24 lead. The team from Northern Somerset County outscored Metuchen by a margin of 21-9 from beyond the arc while having more points from the foul line (5-3). Both teams had seven players break into the scoring column, but Bernards had more players score in double figures, and had three players with at least 8 points versus only one for MHS. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 15-5 lead when Metuchen called for time at the 1:52 mark. Following the timeout, Riordan connected on a three pointer from the left wing for an 18-5 lead with 1:25 to go in the period. He followed that up with a steal for a layup and a 20-5 lead at the 1:03 mark.
Bernards carried that lead into the second quarter, and expanded upon it. After seniors Tim Redshaw (5 points) and Kauri Qualls (4 points) combined for a 4-3 Bulldog run to close the gap to 23-9 at the 4:52 mark, Bernards went on an 11-2 spurt over a span of 3:22 for a 33-11 lead. Highlighting the run for the Mountaineers was a three pointer from Zeccola at the 3:57 mark, and a trey by Riordan from the right side at the 1:30 mark. Riordan had three of his four triples in the first half including two in the second period. Redshaw and O'Neill helped Metuchen end the half on a positive note with both baskets during a 4-2 burst to narrow the deficit to 35-15 at the intermission.
Things would get worse before improving in the second half for the Bulldogs. The Mountaineers began the second half with 10 unanswered points to take their largest lead of the game. Zeccola ignited the spurt with a layup at the 6:58 mark of the third. The Somerset County squad then added a jumper in the paint at the 6:30 mark, two free throws at the 5:42 mark, a basket at the 5:16 mark, and a score from the left low block with 4:30 to play in the period for a commanding 45-15 lead. Freshman guard, Artie Flaherty started things going in the positive direction again for the Bulldogs with his only points of the game on a three from the left corner at the 4:07 mark of the third. The triple started a 23-9 surge to end the game for MHS.
After Bernards got a score at the 3:05 mark for a 47-18 lead, Metuchen finished the quarter with the final six points including one of two from the line by Redshaw at the 2:34 mark, a short jumper from the left baseline by Brian Eustace at the 2:09 mark, and a three pointer from freshman point guard, Tom Chalker at the 1:34 mark for a 47-24 Bernards lead heading into the fourth. Building off the momentum generated at the end of the third, the Bulldogs narrowed the deficit to 21 at the start of the fourth with some nice passing that resulted in a layup for sophomore Hunter Clarke (4 points) at the 6:53 mark. The Mountaineers got two quick scores at the 5:11 and 4:52 marks to take a 51-26 lead, but MHS would finish the game on a 12-3 tear.
Eustace had six of his points during the run including two off assists by Chalker. He first hit a short jumper off a bounce pass at the 4:08 mark, then scored on a floater at the 2:29 mark, and closed out the scoring by taking a nifty behind the back pass from Chalker for a jumper from the left side with 30.5 seconds to play. O'Neill added a jumper from the left wing at the 3:31 mark, and Qualls hit a short jumper at the 3:06 mark. The combination of improved offensive play along with an attacking style of defense, the young Bulldogs played with plenty of spirit and fight to make the game much more respectable in the end.
With the victory, Bernards, which lost to Jonathan Dayton in the opening round (48-34), improved to 2-3 overall while Metuchen dropped to 2-3 including a 1-2 mark against non-conference foes. The Bulldogs return to regular season play with a contest against Metuchen on January 4th. View the play-by-play from the contest.
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