Doane Claims Prep B Boys Basketball Title
The Spartans checked the NJISAA Prep B championship title off their bucket list with a 57-51 win over Pennington School.
BURLINGTON CITY — The Doane Academy seniors waited two years to get another shot at winning the Prep B championship on their home floor.
All the hard work paid off for the Spartans, who defeated Pennington 57-51 on Tuesday night.
“We wanted this so bad,” Doane Academy senior Nick Saint Juste said. “This is a relief and there’s just pure joy. We’ve been waiting since sophomore year. Two years ago, we came up short and we battled back and worked hard every summer, every fall to get to this spot.”
The Spartans made 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to finish off the win, with five of them coming from Arian Gomez.
“When you’re locked in, you’re locked in,” Gomez said. “You don’t hear anything. I’ve hit those free throws millions of times in practice. We shoot them for eight minutes straight. I just had to knock them down when it came time.”
Doane started off fast, as Saint Juste and Chris Evans knocked down three triples in the first four minutes of the first quarter.
“We always want to push the ball down the court and by the time the fourth quarter hits, teams are done, and that’s our goal every game,” Saint Juste said.
However, Pennington adjusted by throwing a 2-3 zone at the Spartans and slowing down the pace of the game.
“We thought our speed would give them a lot of problems,” Doane head coach Dan Williamson said. “But we just didn’t have our speed tonight. They were making a good run by slowing it down and playing a real slow tempo. We wanted to turn it up on them, but they came fighting back on us. I have so much respect for them.”
Doane entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point advantage, but that shrunk as low as three, as Pennington made a run that the Spartans’ leaders were prepared to absorb.
“Us as captains gathered everybody that was on the floor and told them they are going to make runs, but we’re going to make runs also,” Gomez said. “It’s just who keeps their head and who keeps their composure and we just had to execute and that’s what we did.”
As Pennington fouled, trying to elongate the contest, all five of Doane’s starters stepped to the line and made free throws, which was a welcome sight after the Spartans went 2-for-8 at the line in the first half.
“We shoot so many in practice that I had faith the guys would hit them,” Williamson said. “I knew we could ride our seniors. They’re the best leaders we’ve ever had here. They’ve done an incredible job all year.”
As the celebrations started, Gomez took the Prep B trophy and wouldn’t let go of it, and he doesn’t plan on relinquishing the hardware anytime soon.
“I’m sleeping with (the trophy),” Gomez said.