CRESSKILL – The Cougars grabbed a seven-point first quarter lead, extended it to 12 by halftime and coasted to a 54-41 victory over Verona March 7 in the semifinals of the North 1, Group 1 state tournament.
“We played pretty well in that first quarter and the kind of put us in the driver’s seat,” said Cougars coach Mike Doto. “I didn’t feel threatened the rest of the game.”
Seniors A.J. Gentile and Matt Flood tallied seven points apiece in that first quarter. Gentile did his work on the inside, while Flood took care of the outside shooting.
“I think it was an all-around team effort,” Gentile said. “I never like to base it on just one person. I’m sure they came into the game today keying on Sean Kelly and Matt Flood.
“When other teams do that it just never works. If it’s not me who’s stepping up it’s Nick DeCandia or Matt Ferrara or Luke Krushner. Someone else is going to step up and be ready to take that role so you can never key on one or two guys.”
Gentile gave the Cougars the lead for good with a hook shot over his left shoulder midway through the first quarter.
“Once I get a couple going I get confidence,” he said. “I like going over both shoulders with the hook shot.”
While Gentile’s points all came from in close, Flood drove the lane a number of times and added six second-quarter points to give him 13 at the halftime intermission. He finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.