After a sloppy start against Newark Tech in which it trailed the whole time, the Linden boys basketball team went on a 26-5 run spanning the end of the first half and into the second half and never relinquished its lead.
Behind 17 points off the bench from junior guard and Patrick School transfer Otis Livingston, and 15 points and seven rebounds from Cincinnati-bound Quadri Moore, who also scored his 1,000th career point, Linden came away with a 69-57 win in the Tip-Off Hoop Group Classic on Sunday at West Orange High School.
“We just stopped them,” Linden coach Phil Colicchio said. “We weren’t competing for rebounds early, we were stuck in the floor, we weren’t getting up after them. Our defense was playing too far out — we just flattened our defense out a little bit and that created some momentum and gave us a chance to get some steals.”
Newark Tech (0-2), last year’s Group II champion, led for the majority of the first half, including by as many as 10 early in the second quarter.
Moore, a bruising 6-foot-8 senior forward, cut the deficit to 21-14 with 7:12 left with a two-handed dunk on a fastbreak for his 1,000th career point. The game was stopped at the next whistle to recognize his accomplishment.
“It was exciting,” Moore said. “I’ve been waiting for it for three years, so it finally came.”
After Newark Tech held a 28-21 advantage, the Tigers made their move, closing the half on a 12-2 run with Moore on the bench for most of that spurt.
“Quadri is our best player, but we have a lot of good basketball players, kids who are very experienced, so we don’t rely on just playing basketball behind Quadri,” Colicchio said. “We have about nine or 10 kids that we think the strength of our team this year is our depth.”
Linden’s depth is what makes it so difficult for other teams to match up with.
On Sunday, the Tigers’ bench of Livingston, James Julius, Quinton Dixon and Rick’Keem Mixson combined for 35 points.
“Our bench means a lot to us because if I’m not playing well or somebody else isn’t playing well, then there’s somebody else who could fill in and do whatever you got to do to get the win,” Moore said.
Sophomore guard Mustafa Lawrence led all scorers with 21 points for Newark Tech.
St. Joseph 78, Shore 68: Karl Towns scored 20 points as St. Joseph (2-0), the consensus No. 1 team in the state, survived an upset scare from Shore in the Tip-Off Hoop Group Classic.
The teams were tied at 60 with 3:55 left to play before the Falcons used an 18-8 run to close the game.
Dan Pillari scored 42 points, including nine 3-pointers, in the losing effort for the Blue Devils (0-2).
The Falcons trailed for much of the first half before staging a 9-0 run to close the half, capped by a Wade Baldwin 3 at the buzzer, to take a 34-33 halftime lead.
Cardinal McCarrick 74, South Amboy 70: Four players scored in double figures for Cardinal McCarrick (1-1), led by Sky Harris’ 24 points and 17 rebounds.
Piscataway 62, University 47: Kiki Bynes and Kendrea Williams scored 13 points apiece to lead Piscataway to a 62-47 victory in Newark. Kelsey Nugent contributed 10 points to the season-opening win. The Chiefs led 30-19 at halftime.
Edison 6, Toms River South 3: Senior center Jared Knudsen collected two goals and two assists and Ryan Daly contributed one goal and two assists to lead newly formed Edison Township, a co-op between Edison and J.P. Stevens, to its first win of the season.