With backs to the wall, Little Tigers push back

   Dave Kosa knew his team was close to putting together a full effort.
   Marc Andre felt the same way as well.
   Now, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team has put together three of those efforts in a row, helping to get their season pointed in right direction.
   On Thursday, Andre had 10 points and six rebounds as the Little Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 56-46 win over Princeton Day School. A day later, Andre contributed six points as Princeton topped Hightstown, 66-47, to improve to 4-9 on the season. On Tuesday, it was three straight, as the Little Tigers beat West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 57-42.
   The trek continues tonight (Friday) with a game at Montgomery.
   "We needed this," said Andre, a senior who is playing his first full season with the basketball team. "We knew we needed to win seven straight to get into the playoffs, so we were just taking them one game at a time.
   "We’re having a lot more fun. Before, it was tough because we were losing and we were working so hard. It’s tough when you work hard and lose. Now we’re winning and it is all coming together."
   Before the win over PDS, the Little Tigers had dropped two straight close games. They lost to Hopewell Valley by three points one game after losing to Steinert by two points. There was also a recent two-point loss to West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
   "We hung in there and did some things that were necessary to win the ball game," Princeton coach Dave Kosa said after the win over PDS. "We hit some shots. Will (Rogers) got hot in the second quarter. And Joe (Rogers) has really stepped up his play as far as his scoring ability.
   "Our goal is to be able to pound the ball inside. So to have those two guys making shots, in that regard, it opened up our inside game and allowed Mark to get some easy shots inside."
   In the win over PDS, Joe Rogers led the Little Tigers with 15 points, while his older brother Will added nine. Ben Guervil joined Andre in giving Princeton a solid inside scoring combo with 11 points.
   In the win over Hightstown, Joe Rogers led the way with 18 points, while Guervil had 15 and Casey Huckel added 10 points. The two wins mean the Little Tigers have strung together four good efforts in a row, making the hard work pay off. Cranbury’s Dan Mawn and Ross MacDonald have also been in the rotation.
   "We would always start off games strong and then fall off at the end," Andre said. "So it was good to put it together and finish a game. This year was my first full season for both sports, football and basketball. So I have just been going as hard as I can and trying to do my best."
   Andre is glad to be getting the chance to play for the Little Tigers this season. His sophomore year he pulled a hamstring and could not play, then as a junior he was ineligible. This year, he was able to play football and now basketball for the first time. His presence has been a plus for the Little Tigers.
   "He’s real energetic," Kosa said. "Sometimes I want to harness that energy and get him to not put the ball on the floor and that kind of thing. He works hard. He’s a tireless worker inside. We’re trying to get that inside-outside going with Marc and Ben inside."
   For Andre, the solid senior season in football and basketball has helped to make up for the troubles of the past few years. Beyond this year, he’s hoping to play football at the next level.
   "For next year, I applied to Wesley and I am hoping to get in there," he said. "If I don’t, I will look at some junior colleges. I want to play football. I might try out for basketball, but it depends how it would go.
   "Ever since I was a freshman I said I was going to try to go to the NFL. Now that this was my senior year, I gave it my all. I was in the weight room every day and I worked as hard as I could. I felt happy with my performance, but I know I could have done better. I always feel like I could have done better."
   Right now, he’s helping the Little Tiger basketball team play better. And they’re hoping that continues down the stretch.
   "We have nine seniors. And four or five of us have been playing together all four years. So we want to try to go out having the best season we can have."