Tuesday, March 7, 2017
By JC Baumuller
Ja'Quaye James finished with 17 points and Teaneck finished off a second straight North 1, Group 3 state sectional championship with an 81-48 win on the road at River Dell on Monday night.
ORADELL – Teaneck jumped out to a 13-1 lead in the first two minutes of the game and coasted to an 81-48 victory over River Dell to win its second consecutive state sectional title on Monday night in Oradell. Last season the Highwaymen went on to win the Group 3 state title.
“We wanted to come out and jump on them to take the crowd out of the game,” said Teaneck coach Jerome Smart. “We’ve been in these situations before, like the other day (Saturday) in Old Tappan with a hostile crowd. We knew what we had to do to take the crowd out. Once we took them out of the game it was just playing basketball.”
“It was really important [to take the crowd out],” added junior Ja’Quaye James. “Sometimes the refs can be influenced by the crowd. When you are playing on the road, especially in state games, it’s better to keep a 15- to 20-point lead in case two or three calls go in their favor we’re still good. I’d rather play up than close.”
Junior Cory Gordan got the scoring going with a jumper to give Teaneck a 2-0 lead. Then the Teaneck defense put on a full court press, which caused the Golden Hawks to turn the ball over on two consecutive possessions.
“Leondre [Washington] and I used to play against a box and one and a triangle and two,” said James. “And we know if we play defense from the jump, get steals and get it going early we won’t have to worry about too much. They can’t sit back in a zone or try to trap us. They have to play straight up if we have a big lead.
Nick Sirico had a team-high 19 points for River Dell, which finished with 21 wins, second most in program history.
“As long as we get after it defensively and cause them to turn the ball over we can get out and run and play transition. I don’t think there are many teams in the state that can run with us.”
James cashed it on a long 3-pointer and then Washington did the same to up the lead to 8-0 and cause River Dell to call time out. The defensive pressure continued and Adrian Baucom cashed in off a pass from Washington to make it 10-0.
“We just tried to come out really aggressive,” said James. “We want to make sure we warm up good and try to get everybody involved early. As long as we warm up good we make shots early like the way I did, like Leondre (Washington) did and the way Adrian Baucom stepped up and did too.”
By the end of the first quarter Teaneck led by 14, 22-8. That lead grew to 22, 34-12, in the first three minutes of the second quarter. The 12-4 run was highlighted by a 3-pointer off a steal by James and an exciting one-handed dunk on a put-back by junior Jayden Dawson.
In the beginning of the second half River Dell rallied with a 6-0 run, but the Highwaymen came back with an 11-0 spurt the other way to essentially put the game out of reach.
Leondre Washington scored a game-high 27 points for Teaneck, which will play Barringer in the Group 3 semifinals.
“I think because we got challenged in the first two games that really helped us,” said Smart. “We came out hard. We’ve been playing harder for longer lately. That’s been a key.”
Washington led all scorers with 27 points. Baucom and James chipped in with 17 apiece. Senior Nick Sirico led the Golden Hawks with 19.
Teaneck, with the North 1, Group 3 state sectional title now in hand, moves on to play Barringer in the state semifinals.
“The kids are focused,” Smart said. “They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All they can think about now is bringing the state championship in. They’re dialed in and playing very hard.”
“This is a real big step in the right direction but we just want another ring,” said James. “Back-to-back state championships and I can say I did it two times."