Fourth-quarter outburst propels Lenape to third straight Score at the Shore holiday tournament title
STAFFORD TOWNSHIP (N.J.) - Lenape High School boys basketball coach Matt Wolf has reminded his team that respect is earned not given.
The Indians accumulated 27 wins and reached the Group 4 state semifinals a season ago.
South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey First Team selection Derek Simpson elevated to Rutgers following graduation, Second Team honoree Tayvon Gaither moved on to Stockton, and Third Team selection Aiden Anderson took his talents to Division-II Lincoln.
With two returning starters and a host of rotational players back in the mix, Lenape knew it could be competitive again this winter. But with a new look, the program still needed the prove itself against quality opponents to obtain high esteem.
Lenape earned a share of respect with a 41-29 statement win over No. 6 Mainland in the Score at the Shore final at Southern Regional High School on Friday night.
The Indians won their third consecutive Score at the Shore holiday tournament title and improved their record to 6-1.
The Mustangs were held to 12 points in the first half, including three in the second quarter, and were outscored 17-8 in the final stanza. Lenape held its opponent to single digits in each quarter.
"I'm proud of the guys," Wolf said. "Defensively, I thought we were great. We knew they have some really good players on their end, they get to the basket really well. We knew the key was taking away the driving lanes and I think our guys did an awesome job doing that. It was a total team effort."
After establishing a 24-21 advantage after three periods, the Tribe scored 10 unanswered points, capped by a two-hand slam dunk on a baseline cut by Myles Primas, to inaugurate the final stanza.
The Medford Tech transfer scored nine of his game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter. The junior splashed a triple to ignite the run with 6:32 left to play and drained a pair of free throws to give Lenape a 17-point lead with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Primas' transition from one end of Medford to the other has been seamless as his ability to slash from the wings has perfectly complemented the Indians' offense in the half court. His teammates have welcomed him with open arms and he continues to do what his coaches ask of him.
"They took me in as a brother," Primas said. "I feel like as I came in they gave me a role and a job to do. I'm feel like I'm gonna get that job done."
"He's done everything to kind of gel with the team," Wolf said. "Hasn't tried to do too much or anything he can't do. He just does his game. He's such an unbelievable athlete and a great kid."
Tye Dorset added 13 points and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 24th annual tournament. Dorset and Tekie Clark are the Indians' only returning starters. The two have elevated to leadership roles and have helped provide consistent play this season.
"Lead by example," Dorset said of his role. "We don't really know what we are as a team yet. We're just trying to find that. Really just a next-play mentality. Staying consistent every day."
Cohen Cook led Mainland with a team-high 12 points. Tim Travagline added nine as the Mustangs dropped their record to 6-1.
Lenape earned its sixth consecutive triumph and seized much-needed momentum as it prepares to endure a daunting Olympic Conference schedule in the coming weeks.
"This is like an early playoff test," Wolf said. "I said if nothing else, win or lose, this game would prepare us for the playoffs. I think that's what it did. It was kind of a playoff atmosphere, the intensity was there. They're such a good team and they're coached so well. It was great we made some shots down the stretch and were able to pull it out."