by LESLIE MONTEIRO
for Montclair Local
NORTH BERGEN—The Montclair High School boys basketball team can say it dominated North Bergen in the first quarter Friday night. Outside of that, it was all downhill from there.
The Bruins outscored the Mounties by 17 points over the final three quarters en route to a 60-47 win at the Joseph N. Coviello Physical Education and Athletic Center.
“They make you play defense.,” Montclair coach Gary Wallace Jr. said of North Bergen. “They make you play fast. They are so disciplined.”
The Bruins (11-4) stepped up their intensity after falling behind 13-10 to the Mounties in the first quarter. They were quick in getting rebounds, and they were able to create second chances in scoring. For every shot the Mounties missed, the Bruins made them pay. They also forced the Mounties into four turnovers in that second quarter.
North Bergen scored 7 straight points to the start the second quarter as a result of its defense, forcing the Mounties to miss shots. Charles Murphy (10 points), Izaiah MacPherson (6 points) and Gabe Schreiber struggled to make layups. At times, the Bruins defense forced the Mounties to be hesitant on offense, with the Mounties even squandering a layup opportunity.
“North Bergen did a great job getting Murphy off his shot,” Wallace said. “We fell in love with the jumper instead of making floaters and layups.
Abdullah El-Saleh, who led the Bruins with 18 points, began the second-quarter run with a jump shot, followed shortly by an Emmanuel Martinez jumper and a Neil Kasameros 3-pointer to give North Bergen the lead.
MacPherson and Murphy finished the second quarter by scoring Montclair’s final 4 points, cutting the deficit to 29-21.
“We were able to get multiple stops by rebounding the basketball,” North Bergen coach Kevin Bianco said. “We did a great job of getting them of their switch. When you get stops, it makes it easy to shoot.”
The Mounties made it a game in the third quarter by cutting North Bergen’s lead to 36-32 on MacPherson’s layup and Murphy’s shot.
North Bergen finished the third quarter with a 40-34 lead, but it was all Bruins in the fourth quarter, beginning with a 9-0 run to open the period.