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Boys basketball wins Raiders Holiday Classic

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The boys celebrate winning the title at the Raiders Holiday Classic.

The boys celebrate winning the title at the Raiders Holiday Classic.

courtesy of Ryan McCaffery

courtesy of Ryan McCaffery

The boys celebrate winning the title at the Raiders Holiday Classic.

Sean Jackson and Courtney Nielsen

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After a rough start for Hillsborough, the boys basketball team headed into the 9th annual Raiders Holiday Classic looking for a win and a respectable showing in its own tournament. The Raiders, despite their 0-3 start, looked  good heading into the first game against Hightstown.

The game came down to the fourth quarter and Boro was down by three. The offense came alive and the Raiders rallied back after a long, close game. Outscoring Hightstown 19 to 11 in the fourth quarter, Raiders took the win 59-54. Senior Justin Brown played a key role in the team’s win, netting 20 points and allowing the team a chance at winning the championship game.

Next, the boys had to face one of their toughest competitors so far this year, Hunterdon Central. Central always proves to be a good battle for Hillsborough, and this game came down to hard work, defense, and insightful coaching. The Raiders fought well in the first half and kept the game in hand, trailing points 20-16. The second half they knew they had to step up and make something happen.

“I told the boys we had to have each others’ backs and come together to win this game,” Brown said.

Down by two going in to the final quarter, the Raiders played great defense and to rally. Senior Jackson Parham had a clutch assist to Brown then a three-pointer just seconds later to secure the Raiders first lead early in the fourth quarter. After a last second alley-oop of a prayer to Brown failed, it was off to overtime.

It was back and forth action as both teams had stepped up their game. The Raiders were down by one with 30 seconds left and had a great look, but the shot went off the rim. However, a clutch rebound by Brown with 5 seconds remaining followed by a quick foul kept Boro in the game. Brown went to the free throw line down by one for 2 shots with just 5 seconds left.

“I hoped all the work in the off season with free throws would pay off,” Brown said. “But I was confident I would sink them.”

Brown sunk both, putting the Raiders up by one leaving Hunterdon Central to inbound under its own hoop with no timeouts. Central needed a prayer. With a promising look just in front of half court, it luckily hit off the back rim giving the Raiders the hard-earned title. Brown was named MVP of the tournament.

“The goal for the rest of the season is simple, to help the team reach the highest level of ability to which it is capable,” head coach Scott Kallens said.

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Boys basketball wins Raiders Holiday Classic