Photo by Gabe Csapo / The Hun School’s Shamar Florence looks to pass the ball during the Raiders’ 57-44 win over Pennington on Wednesday.
Photo by Rose Denommee / The Hun School’s Shamar Florence looks to pass the ball to teammate Andrew Seager during a game earlier this season. Seager scored 18 points in the Raiders’ 57-44 victory over Pennington on Wednesday.
By Bob Nuse
Jonathan Stone is in his 19th year as the head coach of the Hun School boys’ basketball team and he’s never had a deeper team than the one he is coaching this year.
The Raiders go 12 players deep in their rotation, getting contributions from all of them when they are playing at their best. That was the case Wednesday as their depth helped wear down Pennington on the way to a 57-44 victory on the road.
“We’re such a unique team,” Stone said after his team improved to 3-4 with the win. “We’re the deepest team I have ever had. Trying to find the right combination is really hard for me some nights.”
Stone spent the night mixing and matching his players on the floor and in the end the Raiders found a way to pull away. They led, 40-37, early in the fourth quarter before scoring 10 straight points to open up a 13-point lead on the way to their second straight win.
Andrew Seager led Hun with 18 points, while Eric Fleming scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. In all, eight of the 12 players who saw action on the court scored in the win.
“I feel like we’re on a roll now and playing great together,” said Fleming, a senior who is in his second year with the program. “The big thing is we are playing as a team. Last year was a lot of one-on-one ball. This year we try to pass the ball more and we’re actually running our sets. We’re playing good defense and rebounding.”
Hun led by four points at halftime and maintained that four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Raiders withstood a strong effort from Pennington’s Patrick Higgins, who scored 20 points, including the 1,000th of his career. Enai White also had a big night with 17 points.
“I am very proud of my team,” said Fleming, who had four blocked shots. “They had someone get their 1,000th point today and that can really help a team get momentum. We stayed composed and stayed together and we got the lead back up. I feel like we are coming together well right now. In practice we’re all going hard at each other and we’re playing more as a team than last year. I feel like we’re getting into a groove and can go on a roll from here.”
Just like his coach, Fleming likes the idea of having so many different players who can contribute. Shamar Florence had nine points and Dylan Knight added seven, while the defense helped force 19 Pennington turnovers.
“Our second group always has to bring the energy and I felt like they did what they had to do today to keep it going while we were out of the game,” Fleming said. “Our defense was better. I love blocking shots. And defensive rebounds go a long way. That’s a slept on stat. I love guarding the other team’s best player. I like that challenge. It helps me going against Seager in practice every day.”
After going 1-4 to open the season, Hun has now won two straight. Stone hopes it is a building block for the future.
“I think we’re getting there,” the Hun coach said. “We still have a little ways to go defensively, but we’re getting there and improving. I think we have the potential to be better than we are.
“I thought of all the people tonight, Blake Morrisey was terrific. He’s had some games where he hasn’t played a ton for us and he still has a great attitude and brings it. Tonight he was terrific.”
Morrisey didn’t score a point, but made big contributions with his effort. With a rotation that goes 12 deep, Stone will be looking for efforts like that every night.
“We have a real tough game on Saturday (against Perkiomen) and hopefully we can build a little momentum going into that,” Stone said. “And then we have two more next week (against Solebury and Academy of New Church) before we go into the break. It would be nice to keep rolling.”
The Raiders finished strong in the triumph over Pennington and are hoping that momentum and effort carries over to the rest of the season. As a senior who has been with the program, Fleming hopes he can help get that message across to the younger players.
“I feel like I have to be a leader on this team and help out the young guys because we have a lot of young guys this year,” Fleming said.