By Chris Bradley | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -– Behind a dominant full-court press and outstanding team defense, Paterson, N.J.’s East Side knocked off Dorchester 50-25 on Saturday night at Emmanuel College.
East Side was able to shut down the Bears’ star senior forward Dakari Wornum, who has emerged in the last several weeks as one of the MIAA’s best rebounders. East Side was led in scoring by Jator Brown (16 points), a smooth-scoring guard with a versatile game and deep range.
Though he didn’t need to do much in the scoring column, senior point guard Thomas Rivera was the catalyst for East Side’s pressure defense and ran their offense to near-perfection.
“Jator and Thomas are our best two players: they handled the ball, they score the ball, and they make other people better,” East Side coach Juan Griles said. “They’re very crucial for us. Jator is more of a scorer, but Tom is a very good defensive players. He’s one of the best guards in the state of New Jersey.”
Zoning it up: Both teams played zone for nearly the entire game. Dorchester mixed it up between a 2-3 and a 3-2 depending on personnel, while East Side pressured Dorchester’s ball handlers full court via a 1-2-1-1 trapping press. It is a press that East Side is known for; gaining an advantage over their opponents in an aspect of the game that is often overlooked: patience.
“We gameplanned, but we do that all the time and I figured they didn’t really see us that much,” Griles said. “Even the teams in Jersey that see us and watch us and prepare, they still have problems with [the press] because a lot of teams aren’t patient enough to just move the ball.”
Dorchester was rarely patient going up against the press. East Side forced over 25 turnovers, many of which came before the Bears had even crossed halfcourt. Even in several situations where Dorchester had no problem beating the press, they often took rushed jumpshots after only one pass.
“Sometimes you’re not going to get a lay-up, you have to reverse the ball and get it over halfcourt, and just run your offense, but most teams just try to run and go fast and panic because most of the spots that they’re supposed to go to are not available[when we press]),” Griles said on the forced turnovers.
Shutting down Wornum: As previously mentioned, Wornum has often dominated opposing teams on the glass this season. He averages around 20 rebounds per game, and gets the majority of his point on offensive putbacks. East Side wouldn’t let that happen, holding the 6-foot-7 senior to six points and nine rebounds.
“I think our big guys did very good on him, they were very physical,” Griles said. “Not many guys get 20 rebounds on us because we’re so big and athletic and physical. So we’re able to cut that down. Early on he started to get some rebounds on us, but I think in that process it kind of slowed him down a little bit.”
Dorchester had a very hard time scoring after the first quarter. Ceejae Agnew-Carter nailed three first-half 3-pointers for the Bears, while they kept the game within three after the first quarter. However, Dorchester managed to barely match their first half scoring effort for the rest of the game, an effort Griles credits entirely to his defense.
“Yes, I am very pleased,” Griles said. “They had eleven points in the first quarter, and fourteen for the rest of the game. We held them to four or five points [each quarter] for the rest of the game, and that’s tremendous defense. Also, my team offensively definitely made some clutch shots against their zone, against a zone you have to make jumpshots.”
It was an effort the coach has come to expect out his team this year, with the win they moved to 13-1 overall, eyeing a chance to win their second New Jersey state championship in three years.
“We know in order to reach the state championship that we won two years ago, when you’re going up against better teams, you have to protect the ball,” Griles said. “You can’t have 15 turnovers, be loose, and lackadaisical with the ball because against better teams they will score if you keep giving them opportunities.
“In New Jersey we don’t have a shotclock, so we’re able to hold the ball and make free throws when we’re winning in the fourth quarter. So if we make free throws we’re going to win the game. “
Off-court experience: Coming to Emmanuel College to play Dorchester was much more than simply a basketball game for the players of East Side, it was a cultural experience. The team was able to experience sights in Boston, visit Emmanuel College and learn about other Boston-area academic opportunities.
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