The Joel Barlow high boys basketball team would have to battle illness as well as the competition heading in its game last week.
Visiting Monroe on Wednesday, Jan. 2, the Falcons were without two varsity players for their game against Masuk. A few others would step up, however, to get the job done in a 71-60 win.
“We played with a sense of urgency,” said Barlow head coach Matt Whelan. “We played really smart too.”
Barlow was without Jack Pantalena, who has bronchitis and pneumonia. Kieran Geyer will be sidelined for a couple of weeks while recovering from mononucleosis.
Yet the Falcons stayed right with the hosts for the duration of the first half. It remained a one-point game at the end of the first quarter (14-13) and going into the break (29-28) as the Panthers held a slim lead.
The Falcons turned the tables on the hosts in the second half. By the third quarter Masuk guard Dominic Migliaro had picked up his fourth foul of the night and was limited as to what he could do.
“They didn’t have anyone who could challenge us,” said Whelan.
A 21-point third quarter allowed the Falcons to take the lead for good as they went up 49-41. They basically iced the game with about three minutes left. With his team leading by 11 Finn Cohane sank a three-point shot in transition to widen the gap.
Whelan praised the play of Phil Moriber, who finished with a team-high 24 points, including a three pointer. John Richetelli also scored in double figures with 12, as did Jack Gallagher with 10, including a three-pointer.
Will Bracken sank eight. Liam Rooney and Grayson Kramer each hit three-pointers and Chatham Struder scored two points.
Friday’s home game against Oxford was a rematch of a game back in December. Although the Falcons easily won the previous encounter they had more difficulty this time, not to mention a different result in a close 58-56 loss.
“They played hard,” said Whelan, citing the Wolverines’ efforts. “That was a game we certainly would like to have back.”
Although Barlow started well enough its offense soon ran into trouble against Oxford’s 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 zone defense. Despite staying close the hosts could not take back the lead later in the fourth quarter.
Bracken led Barlow with 17 points. Moriber scored 14, including a three-pointer. Gallagher sank seven and Rooney added five, each sinking a three-pointer.
Pantalena was back and scored four, as did Richetelli.
Barlow, now 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the South-West Conference, hosts Bethel on Friday at 7 p.m. and is home to Stratford on Tuesday at 5:15.