Manville boys eliminated from state bracket

Rutgers Prep rolls to victory

By: Shawn Tyrrell
   SOMERSET — There are good basketball teams and not so good basketball teams. Unfortunately, last Friday night the Manville High boys went up against a pretty good one in Rutgers Prep and the final result was a 71-39 defeat which knocked the Mustangs out of the state playoffs.
   It would have been difficult for MHS to qualify for the states even if everything had broken in the team’s favor. Sporting a 4-8 record on the season and with just a week to go, Manville would have needed to win four games in a row before the Feb. 7 deadline to qualify.
   Rutgers Prep came into the game with an 8-5 record with a solid lineup that featured three players averaging in double figures. Manville, behind the play of Glen Liszczak and some of the younger players, had won two straight and was hoping to keep that streak going.
   Early on it seemed Manville had a chance as with 5:07 remaining in quarter one Kamil Kolodziej made a nice pass underneath to Brian Hahn, who banked it in to tie the score at 6-6. That was the closest Manville came all evening.
   Prep outscores MHS 14-6 the rest of the quarter. The home team showed good ball movement that was finding the open player, while defensively the team was just shutting the Mustangs down.
   Manville had problems bringing the ball up against the Rutgers Prep press and turned the ball over four times, which led to easy baskets. That basket by Hahn was the last for the next three minutes until Kolodziej made a nice pass to an open Steve Anderson, whose hoop made the score 16-8. The quarter came to a close with Prep up 20-12.
   Things got ugly in the second period as MHS continued to fall apart. After a 3-point basket by Mike Knitowski with 6:39 left, the Mustangs were shut out the rest of the way and by the time the first half came to an end Prep had a 32-15 advantage.
   Hahn was one of the players who got to see just how good Rutgers Prep was up close. The Manville point guard has been playing better of late and finished with seven points on the evening. But he, like the rest of the MHS players, went up against a solid basketball team.
   "They were a very athletic team," Hahn said. "They were very quick and had a lot of size and all of them were good shooters. They moved the ball really well and managed to get a bunch of open threes against us."
   The Mustangs helped feed into the Prep game by turning the ball over 27 times and by not being able to score.
   "When they pressed us, we turned the ball over," Hahn said. "We were tired at the end and they were able to take advantage."
   It was just one of those nights were the better team won. Manville head coach Larry Blasi knew his team was in for a tough time.
   "We knew they were very quick and much more athletic," Blasi said. "The turnovers really killed us and when Glen (Liszczak) got into foul trouble early on that really set the tone."
   For MHS it was a night to forget. The team was officially eliminated from the state tournament bracket with Monday night’s 66-56 loss to New Providence.
   Manville will travel to Ridge for tonight’s first round of the Somerset County Tournament and return home for tomorrow night’s Senior Night festivities and game vs. Union Catholic.