SKILLMAN – Montgomery’s game against the Skyland Conference’s top dog, Hunterdon Central, on January 6th was an uncharacteristic one for the Cougars.
Montgomery made zero 3-pointers (0-6 for the game.) And for a Cougar team whose offense has relied heavily on making shots beyond the arc, it simply was not a factor in the 55-48 loss against the Red Devils.
“We pride ourselves on our ability to hit outside shots,” said head coach Kris Grundy. “And for whatever reason we just couldn’t today. Riley Greene, who is probably our best 3-point shooter didn’t take his first three until desperation time there at the end.”
“Coach (Grundy) says he usually wants us to shoot upwards of 20 threes a game,” said senior captain Mack Bloom. “It’s a lot, but if we take a lot of shots, eventually some of them are going to go in. Three-pointers are a key part of our game, and if we are not shooting them or hitting them we are not giving ourselves a chance to win.”
But the Cougars were able to generate offense despite this. Only one person who stepped on the court didn’t score, and they shot 22-for-27 from the foul line.
For a large portion of the game, Bloom and his teammates gave Hunterdon Central a run for its money, holding a team that had averaged 68 points per game coming into the matchup, to 27 points at the end of three quarters.
The final eight minutes where when the Cougars came undone.
Trailing 34-27, Hunterdon Central, after struggling to generate offense the whole game, came to play in that final stanza.
The Red Devils scored a monstrous 28 points in the final quarter. David Johansson (16 points) began the run, creating energy after a massive and-1 play, and drove down the court the next play and did it again. From there, the Cougars got sloppy, turned the ball over, and Johansson and his team ran away with the game
“For a team that prides itself on defense, that can’t happen,” Grundy said. “So if we just defended like we normally had for three quarters it wouldn’t have mattered what we shot from behind three.”
The week leading up to this game, however, has not been a typical week for high school basketball players in the area. The massive “Bomb Cyclone” that came Wednesday night, forced this game to be postponed from Thursday to Saturday, due to the closing of schools on Thursday and Friday. The last game the team played was eight days earlier in Montgomery’s win against Bridgewater.
“Ever since freshman year, I’ve had a game almost every week,” said senior captain Lawrence Levy. “Or a scrimmage or something related. It was really weird having the days off. So we made sure we got into Otto Kaufman a couple days ago, just so we could get some shots up, get our legs going.”
“It’s no excuse,” said Bloom. “They hadn’t practiced either because they had the snow days as well. We just gotta get better.”
Mohammed Hassanin is a senior at Montgomery High School and this is his first season with the MIRE.
Mo is a former runner on the track and field team for the Cougars, and he also played soccer and football.
He loves all kinds of sports and will cover multiple sports teams for The MIRE. After high school, Mo is planning on majoring in communications to pursue a career as a sports journalist.
In his free time, he enjoys listening to music and writing reviews about popular albums, playing and watching sports, and playing video games.
Follow him on twitter at @moHassanin_MIRE for new articles and updates on Montgomery High School sports.