PHS boys hoops have come a long way

By: Bob Nuse
   EWING — When the Princeton High boys’ basketball team was 2-9 three weeks ago, the thought of playing for a championship probably never entered their minds.
   But that was the point in the season where the Little Tigers began to put things together. And on Tuesday night, there they were, playing at Ewing for the Colonial Valley Conference Patriot Division championship.
   And while Princeton ultimately fell just short, dropping a 68-62 decision to the Blue Devils, the second half of the season has certainly created some excitement in the program.
   "The last couple of weeks have been really fun," said Princeton coach Dave Kosa, whose team won five of six games before dropping its last two. "We knew we had some tough road games. We were just looking to play hard and get better as the year goes on. We wanted to put ourselves in a position to win the division. And from where we were that’s a credit to these guys as far as their work ethic and staying with it."
   At 2-9 overall and 1-6 in the CVC, Princeton had no more time to talk about what might be. That was the point where the Little Tigers started to show some results, winning four straight CVC games to pull into a tie for the Patriot Division lead.
   "We’ve been talking about potential for the last couple of years," said Kosa, whose team is 7-12 overall. "Now, at the end of the season, we’re finally starting to realize that we can put things together. It’s amazing what a couple wins can do for you."
   Even on Tuesday night, the Little Tigers proved to be a team with little quit. They trailed by 13 late in the third quarter before scoring 12 straight points to get within one. And they were tied at 57-57 late in the fourth before Ewing closed out the game.
   "Ewing played a great game today," Kosa said. "It was a well-played game on both ends. We made too many turnovers in the first half, but we came back and tied it. It was a great fourth quarter."
   Princeton rallied from five points down a couple of times to draw even, but could never get the basket to take the lead. Even so, led by Joe Rogers’ six fourth-quarter points, they kept battling.
   "These guys have been in that position before," Kosa said. "Every game we’re trying to get better. We were in that position against (West Windsor-Plainsboro) North, down 11 with three minutes to go and we actually took the lead in that game. We’ll just keep plugging away and we’ll see Ewing again in the county tournament (Monday)."
   Rogers finished with 20 points to lead the Little Tigers, while Marc Andre and Ben Guervil added 11 points apiece in the loss. They will get another shot against Ewing on Monday in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.
   "The fact that we’re out of the states, it’s good to have something to play for," Kosa said. "Our goals were to make the states, play for the division and play well in the county tournament. We played for the division. We had a tough week last week with four games. After we won three in a row, there was a little excitement as far as getting to the states, but that was just a little too much as far as having to win seven in a row."
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   Cranbury members on the team are Dan Mawn, Ross MacDonald and Kyle White.