MILLBURN, NJ – Two undefeated teams went head to head in what may go down as the game of the season, with the Millburn men’s basketball team prevailing over the visiting Bloomfield Bengals in a Thursday night thriller.
Both of the 6-0 squads began the game with a 10-10 stalemate through the first quarter; it looked like the Millers were evenly matched with the Bengals until the second quarter. The visitors began the second quarter with a 5-0 burst, including a highlight reel and-one hoist by Richie Guillaume. Guillaume led the second quarter charge, forcing turnovers, and chipping away on the offensive end. In the first half, Guillaume and his counterpart in the Bloomfield backcourt, Michael Ramos, used their quickness to beat Millburn off the dribble, and convert underneath the hoop. While Bloomfield tacked on an extra 12 points to the scoreboard in the second quarter, Millburn was only able to manage two. It seemed as if the basket was smaller for the Millers in the first half. Millburn’s Ross Gang struggled from the field, while leading scorer Zach Ravitz seemed hesitant to pursue the paint, where he is most comfortable.
With the crowd in disbelief, the Millers entered the locker room down by 10 points, with their undefeated title hanging in the balance.
However, the Millers came back a new team in the second half. Coach Roger Blind decided to move Gang off of Ramos, giving first year varsity guard Matt Bernstein the responsibility of defending the ball handler. Bernstein, the spark-plug sub, single handedly brought Ramos’ scoring to a halt, limiting him to only four points throughout the entire game. Before Thursday night, it seemed impossible to stop Ramos on the offensive end, as he scored double digits for his Bengals in each of his first six games.
The Millers’ new found life propelled them to within striking distance, a five point deficit, going into the fourth quarter. Ravitz continued his second half scoring success in the paint, and Bernstein put on a show with the ball as well. At the end of regulation, neither team prevailed. The Palace of Millburn would play host to a fitting overtime period.
The Millers outscored Bloomfield in both the third and the fourth quarter, giving them the momentum, and putting them in the driver’s seat. Millburn took their time in their first OT possession, moving the ball on the perimeter, and snagging offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive. The Millers’ first turn with the ball lasted a minute and a half, and they took the lead on free throws. With Bloomfield’s Al-Samad Henderson, the Bengals’ answer for Ravitz, fouling out in the middle of the extra period, Ravitz and the Millers cruised to an overtime victory 42-37, to remain undefeated at 7-0.
The Millers will defend their undefeated mark atop the Colonial Division when they take on fellow unbeaten Colonial rival Orange on Saturday night.