Manville boys win two straight

Liszczak fuels team’s resurgence

By: Shawn Tyrrell
   The second time around through the schedule was just what the Manville High boys’ basketball team needed.
   Games against Bound Brook and Sussex Tech provided the Mustangs with good opportunities for victory, which the school took advantage of to improve its overall record to 4-7. With the 49-47 win over Bound Brook followed by the convincing 58-43 decision against the Mustangs of Sussex Tech, the Mustangs were able to inch closer to the coveted .500 mark.
   It has been an uphill battle, but Manville has battled back and with a couple of breaks in the next few games, the Mustangs could still qualify for the Central Jersey Group 1 Tournament. A record of .500 or better is needed to qualify to play in the tourney. With the Feb. 6 cutoff date not that far off, second-year head coach Larry Blasi knows that Mustangs still have plenty of work to do although he was pleased with the team’s effort in both games.
   "We finally were able to have everyone back," Blasi said. "The game against Bound Brook was a nice win for us. Bound Brook is not a bad team and they have been doing better. We applied some pressure and were able to get a big enough lead and hang on for the win."
   The first time these two teams met early on it was a bit easier for Manville, which erased an early 11-4 deficit to post a 54-42 win. The Crusaders, despite being winless, have played better basketball as of late and with a run in the fourth period made a game that the Mustangs seemed to have wrapped up a bit to close.
   "We made some mistakes late in the game," Blasi said. "We turned the ball over and missed some shots which enabled them to get back into it. They (Bound Brook) hit some key three points shot down the stretch but we made our foul shots when we needed to and that was the difference."
   Once again, another younger player stepped up and had a career night for Manville. Brian Hahn led the Mustangs in scoring with 18 points, his best game ever.
   "Brian had a really good night," Blasi said. "He did a nice job hitting his foul shots at the end."
   Hahn wasn’t the only one contributing. Glen Liszczak continued his torrid play grabbing 17 rebounds and scoring nine points. The senior followed up that performance the next game against Sussex Tech with another 17 rebounds and 23 points. He has been the team’s leader from the beginning and has been the most consistent player night in and night out.
   "The team has really been playing with a lot of intensity," Liszczak said. "The guys want to play, and with the younger guys really stepping up we have gotten better and been able to win some games. They understand what it is like not to play. Now that they are getting the opportunity and are taking advantage."
   Those players contributing are Steve Anderson, Mike Knitowski and Kamil Kolodziej, Hahn and Jorge Aguilar. Anderson had a season-high of 11 points vs. Sussex Tech, while Knitowski added nine. Anderson and Kolodziej each netted seven in the victory over Bound Brook.
   It won’t be easy for the Mustangs to make the state tourney but perhaps Liszczak said it best.
   "Anything can happen and don’t count us out," he said. "If we take it game by game and quarter by quarter, you never know."
   Only time will tell.