By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
With the win, Rutgers Prep will now face No. 4 Ranney High School on Friday night. Trenton Catholic Academy’s season has come to an end.
“When you get in the State Tournament, you just have to survive,” Rutgers Prep head coach Alex Mahony said. “I thought we played really well in the second and third quarters. We started off slow and shot pretty poorly, but it was enough.”
“I just had to maintain my head from not being hot early, so I had to find other ways to contribute to this team in other ways late,” Battle said. “I’m used to being in that environment (having to make late free throws in games). Coming out here with these people booing me, it didn’t phase me. I knew my team needed me to make those shots at the end. That was my motivation.”
Trenton Catholic Academy junior Quashawn Lane cut the lead to 50-48. Rutgers Prep had a 4-0 run before Lane scored. Following his basket, each team struggled to make free throws, before Battle made two.
The Iron Mikes began the fourth quarter with an 8-7 run. They were down 35-32 when Chris LaBelle — who had a game-high 16 points — made a three-pointer late in the third quarter.
The Argonauts responded with a 5-0 run following the three-pointer. Trenton Catholic was on a 7-0 run, which was capped off by LaBelle’s basket. Prior to the 7-0 run, the Iron Mikes had just four points in the quarter.
Rutgers Prep went on an 11-5 run to start the third quarter.
“We’re used to coming back from early deficits, so it was about us persevering through it,” Battle said.”
At halftime, Rutgers Prep led 22-20. They held the Iron Mikes to nine points in the quarter. LaBelle made two three-pointers, while Donovan Ryland made the other three-pointer.
“We weren’t trusting each other and doing what got us here,” Mahony said of the seven-point quarter. “The last month of the season, we’ve made the extra pass and we didn’t do that to start the game. We weren’t physical enough and finding people in transition. We also missed a lot of open shots.”
Lane, who was recently named the MVP of the Mercer County Tournament, had just six points.
“He’s really tough,” Mahony said. “We tried to get our guys to contain him. It’s easier said than done, but for me to say that and for them to do that, it’s tough. For the most part, I felt like we stuck to it and we made him work for his shots.”
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