By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Kris Grundy had no problem handing the ball over to Matt Remsen to run the offense for the Montgomery High boys basketball team this season.
“He has to do a little of everything for us this year,” the Montgomery head coach said of his junior point guard. “He’s our best ball-handler and he gets us into our sets. He’s a really tough kid. He drives into the paint with a reckless abandon and often times finds himself on the floor. He’s a really tough kid.
“I told him at the end of last season we’re going to go as far as you take us over the next two years. So far we have two out of three wins which isn’t too bad to start the year.”
The Cougars opened the season with a win over Hillsborough before letting a second-half lead slip away in a loss to Hackettstown. They let a lead slip away against Princeton on Monday, but rebounded to hold on for a 57-44 win over the Little Tigers.
“We got away from being who we are against Hackettstown and it ended up costing us,” said Grundy, whose team led by 11 at halftime in that game and wound up losing. “Tonight the kids were able to respond and we made a nice run of our own in the fourth quarter. We hot our free throws and we came out on top.”
Montgomery had a 12-point lead in the second half against Princeton before the Little Tigers went on a 13-0 run to take the lead. But the Cougars responded and closed out the game on 17-4 run to improve to 2-1.
“We learned from the Hackettstown game,” said Remsen, who finished with 13 points. “This is the second time we came out in the second half really slow as a team. This wasn’t as bad as Hackettstown. We were able to find our offense through our defense and that helped a lot.”
Remsen was a starter for the Cougars last year, but was not in the point guard role he plays this year. as a sophomore he was able to see the way Chase Ta ran the team and now as a junior, he has embraced the confidence Grundy has shown in his ability to run the team.
“Last year I was Alex Miller’s sidekick,” Remsen said. “They told me last year this was going to be my team and I just had to make sure everyone was with me to make sure we play as a team.
“I just have to make sure we play better as a team, that’s the main goal. It’s not about individual success.”
With Remsen and Mitch Chugunov, who had 20 points in the win over Princeton, the Cougars return two of their starters. They bring the most experience to the table this year.
“Mitch is back and he was a second team all-conference kid last year,” Grundy said. “Matt was an honorable mention all-conference kid. So we rely on them for experience and they have done a good job so far.
“We don’t have the one breakdown kid like we have had in the past. We talk about it all the time, we have got to be everybody on the same page for 32 minutes for us to be successful.”
As the floor general for the team, Remsen knows he has to get the Cougars playing as a unit for the team to be successful. They did that down the stretch against Princeton and the results were positive.
“That’s the type of team we need to be this year,” Remsen said. “We have to play hard on defense and play as a unit. We don’t have people like Chase Ta and Darron Wallace and Alex Miller this year who would go out and score for us. We’ve done a good job so far this year.”
While the Cougars may lack the experience they have had in the past, they have still approached the season the same way they always have.
“In the summer we had morning workouts and we’d go hard at that,” Remsen said. “It helped get is ready for the season. The three goals never change for us. It’s conference, county and states. That’s our main goal. Every time we hit the floor we have to better ourselves to do that.”
The Cougars were balanced on offense against Princeton, as Matt Stagnitta chipped in with seven points, Lucas Goldoni had six and Danny Engels and Ashwin Prakash each had five. Matt Hart led Princeton with 20 points, while Christobal Silva added 10.
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor