When the Buccaneers went into the locker room at halftime down by one to the Hun School January 24, it was one of the few times all season they were ever working at a deficit.
It didn’t last long, however. The Blair boys’ basketball team came back to start the third quarter with nine unanswered points headed toward a 45-33 lead by the fourth quarter and closing out the game 72-59.
The win puts the Bucs firmly atop the Mid-Atlantic Prep League with an eye toward first seed in the upcoming league tournament.
With an 81-54 win against Lawrenceville January 27, they’ve won 12 of their last 14 including a road win against Pennington, their first in at least a decade, said head coach Joe Mantegna.
“That was a great win for us,” Mantegna said. “They’re not used to playing under that kind of pressure.”
And while the final score of the Hun game may have looked comfortable, it was anything but. With a couple timely steals, Hun scratched back within four points in the fourth quarter. But three-pointers by Deron Rippey and Lucas Schmid provided the momentum the Bucs needed.
Schmid led Blair with 18 points, followed by Rippey with 17. Eric Ihekwaba added 11 points toward the effort.
Mantegna was particularly pleased with the win because it came after a rough week of practice.
“We had a bad week of practice that led right into a bad first half,” Mantegna said, adding that the team has adjusted to the high-pressure expectations, and they’ve grown into this year.
Blair’s next home game is January 31 against Phelps.
Joe Phalon, 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.