Wall beats Somerville to advance in tourney

Wall beats Somerville to advance in tourney

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Wall beats Somerville to advance in tourney

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WALL

The Somerville High School boys basketball team had won at least 15 games every year for the past 23 years, but the Pioneers needed a couple of wins in the NJSIAA Tournament to extend the streak.

The ninth-seeded Pioneers saw the streak end Tuesday night when host Wall, the eighth seed, posted a 42-32 victory in the first round of the Central Group III Tournament.

The loss also snapped a three-game win streak the Pioneers (13-11) hoped would propel them to another 15-win season.

“Wall was a real physical team and we have had a tough time against physical teams this year,” said Somerville coach Joe D’Alessandro. “Wall presented a physical game, that’s part of their strength and we didn’t respond well to the physical-ness.”

Wall played a zone defense the entire game, allowing Somerville to shoot from the outside, but the Pioneers could not buy a basket.

Their lack of scoring showed in the third quarter when Wall went on a 15-2 run to end the quarter after Somerville was leading at the half 21-20.

In that third quarter, Wall’s Ryan Janeczek scored nine points and finished the game with 13 points.

“Ryan is a true scorer,” said Wall coach Mike Puorro. “He has a knack for finding a way to score and, when we needed it most in the third quarter, he did a very good job.”

Wall senior Kevin Waters added 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We just had that feeling that we are a team of destiny, the way things have been going,” Puorro said. We didn’t want to end at home. It just didn’t feel right.”

Wall (17-10) will face Colts Neck in the next round.

The Pioneers held Wall to seven points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough to spark a comeback.

“Tonight we just didn’t shoot well and we turned the ball over too much,” said D’Alessandro. “I think we had more turnovers than points in the second half.”

Somerville also had to deal with Randy Maroney’s early foul trouble. Maroney picked up three fouls in the first half and eventually fouled out in the fourth quarter, scoring four points.

“I’m happy with the winning record,” said D’Alessandro. “The 15 wins is a nice thing but I knew that was eventually going to come to an end. I’m just as proud of this team with the schedule that we had.

“This is probably the toughest schedule we have ever played in my 25 years. To go 13-11 with the schedule that we had, I think bodes as well as some of the teams I’ve had with 15, 16, 17 wins. If we had our old alignment, this group would have the same amount of wins.”

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