Fast Start, Patience, And Size Help New Providence Defeat Dunellen
DUNELLEN, NJ–After playing in the Central Jersey Group I state tournament for the past five seasons, Dunellen returned to North Jersey Section 2 Group I this year. Â The last time that the Destroyers were in Â this field, they managed to reach the semifinal round before losing to small school powerhouse, Newark Science.
This year’s run in North 2 Group I would not last as long. Â New Providence scored the first ten points of the contest while Dunellen didn’t get on the board until the 1:05 mark of the first period as it only made 1 of 8 shots from the field in the opening period. Â The Pioneers weren’t fazed by the trapping defense that has made this year’s Dunellen squad so formidable. Â The fabled D-Block student section at the Faber didn’t distract the visitors from Union County either.
The fast start enabled New Providence to establish its inside game, and most importantly, dictate tempo and style of play. Â The Pioneers played a well Â coached and disciplined team game on offense that methodically wore Dunellen down. Â Meanwhile, the Pioneers also played a man-to-man defense that allowed its size advantage to hamper Dunellen’s offensive attack. Â The Union County school made it very difficult for senior Sean Gibney to shoot over it for threes, and limited Deon Brown’s ability to drive and penetrate to the basket.
Despite getting off to a sluggish start in the first, Dunellen was able to get into striking distance by late in the third period. Â After only being outscored by a 16-13 margin in the second, and getting much needed momentum at the end of the first half thanks to a three by Gibney for a 26-15 New Providence lead at the half, the Destroyers opened the second half with a 9-3 spurt that included seven points by Brown to pull within five at 29-24 with under two and a half minutes to go in the frame. Â However, the Pioneers ended the period with a 7-0 run, and never were threatened after that.
New Providence led by as many as 20 points late in the game before Kevin Puckett hit a three from the left wing, and Jeff Puckett scored a layup off a steal by Dylan Hoski to help close out the 53-37 loss. Â Despite the defeat, Dunellen has a lot to be proud of this season with 15 wins including a buzzer beater victory at Timothy Christian followed by a win over Group IV Westfield less than 24 hours later at the Bernoskie/Kowal Scholarship Games in Rahway. Â The Destroyers managed to do this despite being banged up by injuries and illness earlier in the season.