Neptune Survives Wild Finish to Beat Scotch Plains

Neptune High School, local to Hoop Group’s headquarters on the Jersey shoreline, came out for what began as a physical battle against Scotch Plains.

In contrast to the Tip Off’s first game, which was an up-and-down, finesse game, these two were locked in a 26-25 game at the half.

Come the second half, Neptune pulled ahead to lead by as many as 12 and, despite a furious comeback attempt by Scotch Plains that cut the deficit to as little as four with under one minute to play, Neptune finished out, getting the victory, 62-57.

“We weren’t playing our game at the end,” said junior guard Keith Kirkwood, who finished with a double-double, tallying 17 points and 10 rebounds. “We came out real sluggish and we weren’t playing like we used to be.”

Neptune’s run to take the lead in the second half was fueled by three straight three-pointers by senior guard Isais Calderon, including a jab-step that shook his defender, and he stepped back to hit the shot.

To Kirkwood, the limp to the finish line in today’s game can be cured rather simply.

“We have to just keep playing defense. Defense wins championships.”

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