Boys knock off Dieruff
The Whitehall boys basketball team floated into the finals of the Zephyr Holiday Classic on the strength of Tyler Holubowski’s soft touch around the basket, giving them the opportunity to reclaim the title after Faith Christian seized it last year.
Holubowski scored 18 points to lead the Zephyrs past Dieruff in Friday’s opening round, and a good majority of those baskets came on floaters. His ability to use his natural momentum while releasing the ball toward the hoop was a potent offensive weapon and helped the Zephs earn a 62-59 win over the Huskies.
The win, their fourth of the year, puts them in the finals against North Hunterdon who defeated Faith Christian in the early game. The Zephs would fall in the finals to North Hunterdon 55-54, which came after early Press deadlines.
Holubowski said that it’s a shot that he’s consistently practiced since he began playing.
“I worked on it a lot when I was younger, and it comes up big sometimes,” said Holubowski.
It certainly did against the Huskies as Holublowski continually attacked the rim using the floater. During a couple of stretches during the game, he made consecutive buckets using that weapon in his offensive arsenal.
Holubowski’s decision to drive was predicated on how the Huskies defended.
“That team liked to double a lot [on the perimeter] so you have the mentality of going to the rim a lot,” said Holubowski.
He said that being aggressive and attacking the basket can be rewarded both at the rim and at the foul line, and that was his approach against the Huskies.
Another player who also attacked the basket was guard Rick Melosky. Most of his 12 points came off drives to the hoop as he stayed aggressive the entire night.
Holubowski said that he took advantage of what Dieruff did defensively and that allowed them to beat their man off the dribble. Additionally, many of the points they scored happened down low, a result of some good passing where they hit one another for layups.
In order to win the Holiday Classic, Holubowski said that it’s going to take teamwork to defeat North Hunterdon.
“We’ll have to shoot good, pass good, and be strong with the ball,” said Holubowski.
After trailing by a point at halftime, head coach Jeff Jones saw his squad start to pull away, opening a 10-point cushion as the fourth quarter got underway. But the Huskies had one last gasp, hitting a three that closed the gap to 60-53 with 48 seconds remaining. A kick out pass off a steal under their own basket netted another trey as Honor Huff hit a corner three making it a one possession game with just a couple ticks left on the clock.
The Zephyrs eluded any further damage when Dieruff’s last second heave at the basket fell short as time expired.
Jones knew it was going to be a tough battle since Huff can really impact the game offensively. The guard scored both inside and out and finished with 24 points to lead the Huskies.
He said they rotated a couple of players to deal with Huff, with both Melosky and Adin Hoderewski drawing that assignment, with Hoderewski getting the bulk of the chore.
“I thought that Adin did a gutty job on him,” said Jones.
Huff, who had 15 points in the first half, was doing most of his damage from the perimeter. Hoderewski did a good job negating a lot of that perimeter damage as Huff began to drive more in the second half.
Jones credited both his senior guards for doing an exceptional job on a good scorer.
They also had to contend with Lavon Johnson down low, a post player who had some nifty post moves. He did most of his scoring in the first half as well, finishing with 12 points. Jones said that they played him differently after he backed them down in the paint during the first half for some buckets.
Valuing possessions is something that Jones always stresses, and a play that won’t show up in a box score demonstrates just how that decision can impact a game. With the Zephs up by eight with under five minutes remaining, Na’Mirr Boatwright could have taken an open jump shot early in the possession. Instead, the senior decided to kick it back out to the perimeter, extending the possession to take more time off the clock. That possession eventually resulted in a Dylan McGinley layup to put them back up by 10, 56-46.
Jones credited Boatwright for making a good decision, especially when another foul from Dieruff would have put them in the bonus the rest of the way. The Zephs struggled a bit at the foul line down the stretch, but they came away with the win to put them in the finals.
The Zephs also got major contributions from Joe Lisicky who finished with 15 points, while Dylan McGinley finished with 12. McGinley was also effective guarding the rim, making a number of blocks to help initiate the Zephs running game.
Jones said that their goal heading into the new year is to be .500, and they have that opportunity with a win against North Hunterdon.