Boys Basketball Narrowly Loses in MAPL Tournament

The Boys Varsity Basketball team traveled to Peddie School to compete in the annual Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament this past weekend. After a series of close losses to talented opponents, Big Red looked to get back on track in its second-to-last tournament of the season.

The Boys Varsity Basketball team traveled to Peddie School to compete in the annual Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament this past weekend. After a series of close losses to talented opponents, Big Red looked to get back on track in its second-to-last tournament of the season.

In its first game against Mercersburg Academy, the team started with intensity, hustling for loose balls and rebounds at both ends of floor; however, early on, shots were not falling for Big Red. Conversely, Mercersburg capitalized on its opportunities and outscored Lawrenceville 14-7 in the first quarter. The game would soon prove to be a defensive standoff with excellent gameplans from both teams.

In the second and third quarters, the game went back and forth. Both teams were able to fend off momentum and runs from the other; the point-spread between the two teams remained almost constant. At the end of the third quarter, Mercersburg led Big Red by eight points. Even with the deficit, Lawrenceville continued to battle in the fourth. Led by a nine-point quarter from Co-Captain Ryan Conroy ’19, Lawrenceville closed the gap one play at a time. With 2:02 to go, Josh Hemmings ’20 tied the game with a big free throw. After getting a stop on the defensive end, a two-point shot from Ofure Ujadughele ’19 gave Big Red the lead at 50-48, followed by another bucket from Matan Zucker ’19 to seal the game for Lawrenceville. The final score was 57-53.

The following day, the Lawrenceville boys faced The Hill School in the semi-finals. As the long and athletic Hill came off a five-game winning streak, the game would prove to be a nail-biting one.

Right out of the gates, both teams played with hunger and determination. As Lawrenceville executed its offense, Hill would come up with an answer on the other end. For much of the first three quarters, the teams went neck and neck, with six lead changes in the third quarter alone. As Hill held on to a narrow 52-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter, things heated up. Once again, Lawrenceville rallied behind Conroy’s hot hand from three and managed to take the lead in the last minutes of the game. Hill responded with a quick basket of its own to cut the lead down to 62-60. Clinging to a two-point lead with 6.6 seconds remaining, Big Red missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Blues a chance to counter. Following a rebound, a guard for Hill raced up the court let fly a running 3-pointer from 20-feet away at the buzzer. The result was a swish and a heartbreaking defeat for Lawrenceville.

Looking back at the game, Head Coach Ronald Kane ’83 P’20 said, “I could not be more proud of the effort and intensity the boys put out today.” While Hill was a tall and talented team, Lawrenceville played a great game of basketball and lost on a buzzer beater. Looking ahead to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament next week, Kane wants to make sure the team keeps its spirits high and caps off its season with a win at the state tournament.

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