|the latest regional New Jersey high school sports news|
Cedar Grove's Paul Rufo (1), who had nine of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, puts up a umper over Verona's Luke Weiss during Friday night's North 1, Group 1 semifinal in Verona as Panthers roared with 15-6 edge in fourth quarter en route to a 32-29 victory. (Photos by Glenn Kross- www.glennkrossphotography.com)
Cedar Grove senior guard Joe Slattery (2), here shooting over Verona's Frank Ferrari (24), had six of his eight points in the pivotal fourth quarter to boost win.
Verona's leading scorer Alex Kaslander (25) tries to alter his shot against the ever present 6-4 inside force of the Panthers, David Njoku, during Friday night's action.
Verona's Will Mulderry works against the defensive presence of Cedar Grove's Joe Slattery and David Njoku (5) as the two neighborhood rivals battled all evening long.
Verona team gathers with coach Eric McElroy in front of its strong student section
Cedar Grove coach Rob Gogerty is totally into the action from the Panther bench
Cedar Grove's students provided big boost for their Panthers in Friday night's game
(continued from page 1)
While Rufo and Slattery did their thing in terms of scoring, Cedar Grove’s other high impact player, 6-4 senior center David Njoku, did enough inside by altering shots on Verona’s usually patented drives to the hoop, and grabbing enough rebounds (12) and blocking five shots in order to help make a big difference on the defensive end throughout the game before fouling out with just 2.8 seconds showing and his team leading by four.
“I try and do whatever I can to help my team win,” said Njoku, the University of Miami bound football standout. “I didn’t have many points (two) or that many rebounds, but if I can help in other ways on the defensive end then that’s fine with me.
“Plus, I know that if I do what I can I have those two guys in the backcourt who always get the points when we need them the most, and we couldn’t have done this without them tonight.”
For a good part of the evening, as both teams’ student sections matched cheers, and the full house got into each possession as if it might be the last, Verona maintained a fairly firm grip on the lead and the tempo with their deliberate but usually effective approach, taking an early 11-4 lead, but then hitting a real scoring drought with just a Kaslander (17 points) trifecta for its only points in the second quarter when the Grovers trailed by just three, 14-11, at the half.
Verona led by as many as eight, 23-15, with 3:36 remaining in the third, and 23-17 entering the fourth.
Rufo helped Cedar Grove begin to generate its momentum with a conventional field goal and then a 3-pointer in the first 90 seconds of the fourth to pull the Panthers to within 23-22, and then the visitors were on their way.
“I told our seniors to just keep doing what they had been doing for four years and continue to play as hard as they possibly could,” said Gogerty. “They kind of looked at me and said, ‘We’re not losing this game.’
“I knew that if we had just one good run to get the lead we could get this one, and our kids came through.”
GAME NOTES- Verona’s fine senior point guard Matt Braschi fouled out in the closing seconds after scoring eight points in his final high school game…Kaslander, who is headed to Gettysburg to play basketball, contributed eight rebounds to go along with his 17 points…Among those in the gym were State Sen. Richard Codey and Bloomfield head coach Pat Brunner, who used to coach at Verona and has a daughter, sophomore guard Jackie, on the Hillbilly girls basketball team, which defeated Saddle Brook, 49-35, in Friday night’s first game to advance into the N1G1 final vs. Midland Park.
North 1, Group 1 state sectional semifinal:
(3) CEDAR GROVE (22-4) 4 7 6 15 -32
(2) VERONA (18-6) 11 3 9 6 -29
Cedar Grove: Paul Rufo 6-2-0-18, Joe Slattery 2-1-1-8, David Njoku 1-0-0-2, Mike Bocchino 0-0-2-2, Mike DeAngelo 1-0-0-2. Totals: 10-3-3-32
Verona: Matt Braschi 3-0-2-8, Jack Farrell 0-0-0-0, Alex Kaslander 2-4-1-17, Luke Weiss 2-0-0-4, Frank Ferrari 0-0-0-0, Will Mulderry 0-0-0-0, Dave Gautieri 0-0-0-0, Charles Matta 0-0-0-0, Mike Coppola 0-0-0-0. Totals: 7-4-3-29
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Cedar Grove's David Njoku puts one up inside past Verona's Luke Weiss (32, right)
Cedar Grove's Paul Rufo had big late-game layup ahead of the field to help seal the deal
Verona's Luke Weiss (32) considers taking shot as Cedar Grove's David Njoku nears
Copyright 2005 Sideline Chatter - comments - contact the webmaster