Sunday, April 14, 2024

Blair Boys’ Basketball Takes 7-Game Win Streak Into Break

Brendan Oliver (22) and Lionel Saunders (5) team up for a rebound. Photo by Joe Phalon.

The Blair Buccaneers boys are carrying a 9-1 record over their December break, capped by a seven-game winning streak. 

With a couple of exceptions, most of the Bucs’ wins have been close ones. While some might say a win is a win, others might say there are wins and there are victories. Blair beach coach Joe Mantegna thought his team’s second regular-season outing was a mere win. 

“I thought we were terrible tonight,” Mantegna said, despite Blair’s 79-60 win over Olympus Prep, November 29. 

Mantegna after the game said his Buccaneers need to learn to hold on to the ball, their grip getting tighter during the next few games.

“You’ve got to take care of the ball,” he said. “We had 21 turnovers in our opener, and we probably had 20-plus turnovers tonight.”

The play itself, he said was good. The team works well together, passing as they should. They need to keep the ball sticky. 

“We have great kids that share the ball but today there was just too much dribbling,” Mantegna said. 

That’s not to say Blair didn’t score enough, but Mantegna felt the turnovers caused the Bucs to surrender way too many points on the miscues. 

“That should have been a 40-, 50-point game,” he said. 

Several Buccaneers did their part to keep Blair ahead, however. Eric Ihekwaba scored 22 points to lead the team, followed by Deron Rippey with 12 points. Lukas Schmid followed with 11 points and Jayden Williams with 10. 

Eric Ihekwaba scored 22 points to lead the Bucs. Photo by Joe Phalon.
Lukas Schmid (2) and Deron Rippey (0) double-team the Olympus offense. Photo by Joe Phalon.

The errant ball handing may have caught up with the Bucs the following night when they bowed 80-76 against Perkiomen School of Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. 

But they bounced back with the seven-game streak, capped by a 51-44 win over Roselle Catholic December 15. 

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.