Goetz boys hoops team defends Red Division title

BY MIKE WHITE Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JACKSON — The Goetz Middle School boys basketball team’s free-throw shooting this season at times had been inconsistent.

That wasn’t the case, however, last week as Goetz nailed 17 of 25 free throws to hold off a late rally by Southern Middle School to secure a 60-58 win in an Ocean County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Red Division game.

“A couple of games before this one, we didn’t shoot well from the line at all,” Goetz coach Steve Bado said concerning his team’s paltry 7-of-21 shooting in a loss to Toms River East two games earlier. “In close games, foul shooting is going to play a huge role. We did a great job from the line in this game.”

Goetz was in full command until the final minutes of the game. With three starters on the bench in foul trouble, Goetz held off a late surge by Southern to post the two-point victory and claim its second consecutive Red Division championship.

“We had a 10-point cushion for most of the game,” Bado said. “We got in some foul trouble in the second half, but still managed to keep them at a distance. However, they came on strong in the final minutes”

In fact, Southern had the ball and trailed by two with 4.8 seconds remaining. But a fine defensive play by Brad Maier, who stuck a hand in the face of the shooter, was just enough to distract the shot as the horn sounded.

“He [Maier] made a good defensive play on the kid,” Bado said. “We didn’t want to foul in that situation, but we didn’t want to give him an open look, either. Brad played it just right.”

Goetz used a balanced scoring attack to improve its overall record to 14-3. Josiah Williams and Andrew Pappas each scored 15 points to lead the offense. Brian Solomon added 14 points, while teammates Eric Kelly and Jim McDonald chipped in with five apiece.

Savon Huggins had four points and Maier added two to go along with some fine defensive play.

“This was truly a team effort,” Bado said. “We spread the ball around and everybody got a lot of touches. We got the ball in the hands of our big guys in the post, and that really hurt them.”

Goetz led 15-10 after one quarter and used a pressing defense to mount a 33-22 halftime cushion.

“We pressured them a lot in the first half, and that resulted in a lot of easy buckets,” Bado said. “Defensively, we have good speed and quickness and our guys are able to finish around the goal. I think that was the difference. Once we got that 10-point lead, we never relinquished it until late in the game.”

Williams fouled out with a minute left in the game. Prior to Williams going to the bench, he fed Maier for a driving layup that gave Goetz a 60-52 lead. But Southern wasn’t done. They reeled off six straight points and had the final shot of the game.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Bado admitted. “I never expected them to make a run like that in the final minute.”

In a 52-28 win over Central, Huggins led the team with 16 points. Williams added 15, while Solomon and Pappas netted six apiece. Matt Ferro had five.

“We still have a couple of games left and then we take our shot at the Run for the Roses tournament at St. Rose,” Bado said. “We have a talented squad. We just need to stay out of foul trouble and play smart at both ends of the floor. If we can do those two things, we can play with just about anybody.”