L’ville falls at Ped­die tour­ney

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Greg John­son gjohn­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @greg­p_j on Twit­ter

HIGHTSTOWN >> The Lawrenceville boys bas­ket­ball team flashed its po­ten­tial last week­end at the Kiski School Tour­na­ment, win­ning two games and romp­ing Lake For­est Academy by 19 points. But Fri­day’s re­match against the Illi­nois prep school of­fered a re­minder.

The Big Red are tal­ented and have nine se­niors, yet they have three new starters and are in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ing as a group.

That man­i­fested in a 73-60 loss to Lake For­est in the first round of the Ped­die School In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment, where a slug­gish start ul­ti­mately doomed Lawrenceville.

“I think we’re go­ing to im­prove through­out the sea­son. We’re go­ing to get a lot bet­ter,” coach Ron Kane said. “We’ve got ter­rific se­nior lead­er­ship, which is re­ally help­ful. That’s go­ing to help us through the ups and downs, but it’s still early. We’re still find­ing an iden­tity as a team and try­ing to play to cer­tain guys’ strengths.”

Matan Zucker had a game-high 32 points and Ofure Ujadughele added 15, but only other three play­ers scored for Lawrenceville. The Big Red made just three 3-point­ers, mis­fir­ing on sev­eral shots from deep until Ryan Con­roy buried the first one with four min­utes left in the third quar­ter.

Lawrenceville net­ted only 18 points in the first half. At times the Big Red played fre­net­i­cally and strug­gled to find high-per­cent­age shots in the half court against Lake For­est’s quick guards.

“Right now it’s us,” Zucker said. “We’re a brand new team. None of us have played to­gether be­fore, but it’s early in the sea­son and we know we’re go­ing to fig­ure this out. Once we get back from break and ev­ery­thing we know we’re go­ing to put the pieces to­gether and get it rolling.”

On Fri­day, the dif­fer­ence was Lake For­est’s bal­ance. The Caxys had eight dif­fer­ent scor­ers (four in dou­ble fig­ures), made eight 3-point­ers and con­verted 19of-25 free throws.

Af­ter an early 6-6 tie, Lake For­est started mak­ing shots from be­yond the arc at a high rate. The Caxys scored the next 12 points and led 23-9 af­ter the first quar­ter.

Lawrenceville scrapped de­fen­sively in the sec­ond quar­ter, hold­ing Lake For­est to five points and trim­ming the deficit to six early in the sec­ond half. Once Lake For­est pushed the tempo and made more timely triples, the Caxys pulled away.

Olivier-Max­ence Pros­per, a 6-foot-7 post player, had 19 points for Lake For­est. Xavier Adams made four 3-point­ers.

“They’re a hard team to play against be­cause their big guys can take us off the bounce,” Kane said. “They’ve got five guys that can re­ally pen­e­trate, so then you’ve got to help and then they kick it.”

With a 3-2 record thus far, Lawrenceville has enough tal­ent to be­come a Mid-At­lantic Prep League con­tender.

One of Mercer County’s top play­ers is Zucker, who committed to Bran­deis Univer­sity on Thurs­day. The 6-foot-5 se­nior from Manala­pan is a well-rounded wing player who has shoot­ing range, post moves and crafty ball-han­dling driv­ing to­ward the bas­ket.

“I know ev­ery night I’m go­ing to play hard and grab re­bounds and score the ball in­side, but I just pride my­self on be­ing a ver­sa­tile player — be­ing able to go out­side in, in­side out,” Zucker said. “In my opin­ion, not too many guys can do ev­ery­thing I can do.”

In­clud­ing a nifty Eurostep, which he showed off Fri­day on a layup in the third quar­ter.

“That’s just what I get from watch­ing (NBA player) James Har­den on TV,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a good move. I wish I could dunk it off it, though.”

LAWRENCEVILLE (60)

Ujadughele 6-2-15, Zucker 11-10-32, Rawl­ins 1-1-3, Con­roy 2-0-5, Sas­sine 2-0-5. To­tals — 22-13-60.

LAKE FOR­EST (73)

Duff 3-1-8, Pros­per 6-7-19, Adams 4-3-15, Quest 3-3-12, Mar­cus 3-5-12, JWolf 1-0-3, DWolf 1-0-2, Weil 1-0-2. To­tals — 22-19-73. Lawrenceville (3-2) 9 9 16 26 — 60

Lake For­est (6-3) 23 5 20 25 — 73

3-point goals — Ujadughele, Con­roy, Sas­sine (L), Duff, Adams 4, Quest, Mar­cus, JWolf (LF).

JOHN BLAINE — FOR THE TREN­TO­NIAN

Lawrenceville’s Matan Zucker shoots against Lake For­est Academy dur­ing a Ped­die In­vi­ta­tional game on Fri­day.

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