Yesterday afternoon, the boys’ basketball team traveled down Long Beach Road to renew hostilities with the Knox School in a key PSAA tilt. In their last match-up, in January 2020, the Bears reversed the script on an earlier 37-point defeat by winning a thriller over the Falcons, 71-68. Last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team could only meet up for a late season scrimmage, so Thursday’s match-up was their first meaningful faceoff in 729 days. It was worth the wait.
The Falcons jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on their home floor, prompting a timeout from coach Joe Calabria. Out of the stoppage, the Bears unleashed an 11-0 run that gave them a lead they would not relinquish. It began with a pair of free throws from Oskar Humpert and a 3-pointer from Gustav Skogsjo. Nick Zemitis and CJ Edwards then grabbed steals in quick succession for a dunk and a layup to give the Bears a 9-6 lead. Edwards followed his layup by slamming a block off the backboard and carrying the ball coast-to-coast before Humpert finished a putback to cap the 11-0 surge. Knox scored a layup to end their drought, but the Bears answered with a 10-0 run, punctuated by three straight 3-pointers as Skogsjo sandwiched a pair of threes around a Zemitis trifecta for a 21-8 advantage. Skogsjo made the second with his heels on the volleyball line, sending a charge through the team. Knox closed the quarter with consecutive buckets as the Brook took a 21-12 lead into the second.
Randolph Logan erupted for 11 points in the second to lead the Bears to a 24-point frame. The freshman knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, hit three free throws, and added a beautiful cut and layup to fuel the lethal Bear attack. Humpert also established himself inside with a pair of layups, a block, and a coast-to-coast score following a steal to help lead the Brook to a commanding 45-27 lead at the break.
In the third frame, the Falcons ramped up their full court pressure and the Bears never got comfortable breaking it. The hosts capitalized on several open court turnovers and held the Bears to just 10 points in the quarter after their explosive first half. Knox sliced their deficit all the way back to 41-51 at one point, but another Logan 3-pointer helped stem the tide as the Brook took a 55-43 lead into the fourth.
The Bears turned the ball over on their first two possessions of the fourth as Knox continued to exert pressure on ball handlers, but the Bears got a pair of stops as well before Zemitis opened the scoring with a defensive rebound and full court sprint for a layup. A pair of Knox scores trimmed the Bear lead to 57-47, but Humpert answered with a baseline drive and dunk with 5:30 remaining. Knox refused to go away as they scored consecutive buckets to pull within 51-59. A Zemitis baseline jumper with 3:05 left pushed the lead back to 10, but Knox answered with a layup 20 seconds later to trail, 53-61. Knox looked poised for a patented late game run, but the Bears held Knox scoreless for the next 2:10 to seize control and avoid a taut finish. Knox had an opportunity to trim their deficit to six on a fastbreak, but great hustle and rim protection from the Bear defenders led to a defensive rebound. The Bears were clutch from the line, connecting on 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute to seal the 68-60 win over their crosstown rivals and improve to 2-0 in league play.
Humpert finished with a game-high 20 points to fuel a balanced offense: Logan (14), Skogsjo (12), Zemitis (9), Edwards (6), Osazee Alapa (4). After waiting 729 days between match-ups, the Bears have just a 24-hour interval before a rematch with the Falcons as they host Knox this evening at 7:00pm.