HomePrinceton PacketPrinceton Packet SportsTeam effort helps Princeton High boys' hoops reach .500

Team effort helps Princeton High boys’ hoops reach .500


Photo by Bob Nuse / Princeton High boys’ basketball coach Patrick Noone addresses his team during a timeout last Saturday in the Little Tigers’ 66-37 victory over New Egypt.

By Bob Nuse
Sports Editor

When the Princeton High boys’ basketball team is playing its best, everyone is involved.

The Little Tigers have had games like that this season where everyone on the court is doing their part and the results have been positive.

Princeton played one of those games last Saturday as everyone contributed in a 66-37 win over New Egypt. 

“We played great team basketball,” said Brendan Rougas, a senior captain. “Everybody plays for each other. We play our best when everybody gets involved and everybody is confident and getting good shots, playing good defense, getting steals and finishing at the basket.”

Princeton picked up its third victory of the season as it raced to a 20-point halftime lead and never looked back. Jay Jackson and Jack Suozzi led the Little Tigers with 13 points apiece. Ethan Guy scored 10, while Rougas and Tim Evidente sank seven points apiece.

“We have a pretty big rotation, and I like that,” Princeton coach Patrick Noone said. “We’re going 10 or 11 deep right now. When we’re playing our best we’re very well-rounded and not relying on just one person. We’re moving the ball. Today we had some tips and deflections that led us out to breakaways. I thought we moved the ball pretty well and attacked the basket. We had a lot of guys score today.”

Princeton is 4-4 after an 80-72 victory against Hightstown on Tuesday. The Little Tigers have been in every game this season other than a rough outing at Steinert last week. But Noone feels like this team has the makings of one that could be very competitive.

“I like how it is a team effort,” the Princeton coach said. “We have a deep rotation and we’re moving the ball well. We’ve been in every game except (Steinert). We lost by one to (West Windsor-Plainsboro) North. We lost to Hopewell by eight. It was a three-point game with a minute left. So we’ve been there in just about every game.”

Princeton went up to North Jersey over the holiday break and split a pair of games in a tournament at Kearny. The Little Tigers lost to the host team and posted a 71-64 victory over Nutley.

“We went up north to Hudson County and played Kearny and Nutley, who are two good, aggressive teams,” Noone said. “That was a good experience. It will set us up for later. We get the hour bus ride. It’s a long day. We did that for the preparation for later on if we ever have to go away somewhere. We’ll know how to handle it and it won’t be a new experience. And it was good to see the different styles. The atmosphere was different and it was a cool experience for the guys and a different look.”

Princeton is a relatively young team but does have some good leadership from the upperclassmen. Rougas is one of the veterans and has been trying to lead by example. 

“I just do the same job as everybody else,” Rougas said. “Everybody has just as important job as everyone else on this team. My job is just to get everybody going and confident. We always try to build off a win. Every day is a new day and you have to stay focused and be prepared for each team we play. We can never take anybody for granted.”

With so many players who are new to the varsity level, Noone enjoys having a player like Rougas, who has become a leader for the group.

“Brendan is a guy who comes and brings it every day in practice,” said Noone, whose team will host Ewing on Friday in another big test. “He is one of those quiet leaders who just comes in every day and works his tail off. He has a little toughness and edge to him, which we love.”

 The New Egypt result was a game that was good for the team’s confidence. Princeton was coming off a 71-45 loss to Steinert the night before but bounced back in a big way.

“We did a good job with the zone and we were rebounding,” Noone said. “We got a couple of tips and leak outs, but we’re also able to defend in the half court. That’s what I like is when we hold them to one shot. They get one shot, we get the rebound and we’re out running. We’re trying to get the ball up and down the court when we can.”

Like the victory over New Egypt, the decision over Hightstown saw the Little Tigers with a balanced offensive effort. Jackson led the scoring with 20 points, while Suozzi hit for 15 points and Evidente and Gefan Bar-Cohen recorded 11 points apiece.

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