BY GREG MATTURA -STAFF WRITER The Record
The Warriors shut down and fought off the defending North 1, Group 1 champion with a swarming zone defense, 37-34, in Saturday’s boys basketball sectional semifinal.
“We did a perfect job rotating and that’s what got us the ‘W,’ ” junior guard Doug Palmadessa said. “If we didn’t play the defense we played, we wouldn’t have won.”
Cresskill had two chances to tie the score in the final seconds, but both three-pointers were off the mark. It would have been an injustice if the second trey had gone in because the first attempt hit an overhead wire and should have resulted in a whistle and the ball awarded to Waldwick.
Palmadessa had given Waldwick its final points with 25 seconds left by sinking two free throws. With 53 seconds left, Palmadessa had made the second of two free throws to give the Warriors a 35-34 lead.
Cresskill had tied the score at 34-all on a three-pointer by senior point guard Tyler Jackson. The Cougars took their first and only lead of the second half, 31-30, with 2:54 left on a 15-foot jumper by Jackson that capped an 8-0 spurt.
Waldwick primarily played a 1-2-2 zone, and was so good at taking away Cresskill’s strengths that it often seemed as if there were six defenders on the court. The Warriors held the Cougars to 30 percent shooting from the field (13-for-43), including 20 percent on three-pointers (6-for-30).
“They played great defense; we missed a ton of shots,” Cresskill coach Mike Doto said. “We told them, ‘Don’t settle for three, guys,’ and we just kept chucking up threes and missing and missing and missing. They did a nice job of preventing us from getting to the rim, and I thought they killed us on the offensive boards.”
Waldwick was superb at neutralizing Cresskill’s three senior veterans. The Warriors double-teamed Alex DeCandia (five points) in the post, limited open three-point looks from the corners by swingman Dom Wilson (14 points), and denied penetration by Jackson (eight points).
“It was as good as we could have drawn it up,” said Waldwick coach Adam Kaplan, whose team beat Cresskill twice in three tries this season. “We worked hard on it [Friday]. We weren’t very crisp in practice. I don’t think we had great legs, so I was a little bit nervous. But when the tip went up, we just turned it up to another level.”