Raiders Overcome Foul Trouble To Dethrone Rancocas Valley
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ–The road to the elusive Central Jersey Group IV championship began where last year’s run ended at home against Rancocas Valley. Â Last season, the Red Devils from Burlington County, seeded 10th a year ago, upset the Raiders en route to a Cinderella storybook title. Â This year, North Brunswick was having nothing of it.
However, the Raiders had to overcome some opening half adversity. Â Already dealing with a thinner bench thanks to the fact that Khai Blackwell was out with a concussion, North Brunswick had to battle through foul trouble as they had four of its five starters on the bench with two fouls in the first half. Â Rancocas Valley, which outscored the Raiders by a margin of 27-10 from the foul line, took advantage by taking a 33-29 halftime lead.
Keeping the Raiders close though were reserves such as Virgil Boykin, Jordan Gonzalez, Matt Fox, and Matt Sebastian. Â Boykin led the bench with 6 points including two trips to the foul line in the third quarter that produced one of two free throws to keep North Brunswick within striking distance. Â It was the play of Iverson Fleming in the third though that catapulted the Raiders into the lead for good. Â Fleming scored 10 points in the frame including a three late in the period for a 50-44 lead.
Dion Rogers, who led all scorers with 26 points, then ended the third with an uncontested layup, and opened the fourth with a left handed shot on a follow of his own miss for a 54-44 lead at the 6:51 mark. Â Rogers later added a pull-up jumper from the left side for a 61-47 lead midway through the final period. Â Not to be left out was forward Chance Gadsden, who threw down a one handed jam from the right side to tie the game at 40-40 at the 2:30 mark of the third, and then scored 10 points in the fourth to help the Raiders pull away for the win. Â Gadsden, who had 14 points for the game, scored 12 of those points in the second half while also collecting a charge and a blocked shot.
The Raiders outscored Rancocas Valley by margin of 40-26 in the second half including a 23-11 outburst in the third, and a 9-3 spurt to open the fourth for a 14 point lead. Â A big key to North Brunswick’s win was the containment of Rancocas’s senior guard, Tariq Jett, who made life miserable for the Raiders in last year’s sectional semifinals. Â Although Jett had a team high 19 points, he scored 11 of those points from the line, and only scored 6 points in the second half. Â Senior forward, Dom Twitty, who also played a key role in the Red Devils run last year, added 13 points. Â Rancocas Valley was unable to get closer than seven points in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.