Nottingham and Steinert boys both reach Friday finals of holiday tournaments

Mariano Mazur helped Steinert to its first win Wednesday night with 11 points in a victory over Raritan in the Warrior Classic. Photo by Amanda Ruch

By Rich Fisher

Wednesday was a banner day for the Nottingham and Steinert high school boys’ basketball teams, as the Northstars kept on winning and the Spartans started winning.

Nottingham improved to 4-0 with 90-55 victory over King’s Christian in the semifinals of the ESCIT Franz Massenat Bracket at Trenton Catholic, while Steinert took a 35-34 victory over Raritan in the Warrior Classic at New Egypt.

The Northstars trailed for most of the first half but went ahead at halftime, 37-35, on a last-second 3-pointer by Richie Jones. After the Knights Jake Andrey hit a three to regain the lead for his team, Nottingham exploded for a 31-4 run to put the game away. The only hiccup in the outburst was a 4-0 spurt by the Knights to get within 46-42, but Nottingham answered that with 22 straight.

Darell Johnson had 23 points and five rebounds for the Stars while Richie Jones had 21 points and four 3-pointers. Jones and Joseph each scored 14 in the third quarter. Kastro Montina had six points and seven rebounds, Ku’Jane Johnson had six rebounds and Urias Giadyu had seven boards.

“We brought a lot more energy than the first half,” said Cliff Joseph, who led Nottingham with 24 points. “The first half we were a lot more sluggish. The third quarter we had much more energy.”

Nottingham will meet Conwell Egan, which won its ESCIT opener over Westampton, 70-52, in the 6 p.m. title game Friday.

The Eagles have several familiar faces to Mercer County fans. Head coach Bryan Caver is a former All-State player from McCorristin (now Trenton Catholic), assistant Deon Chew is a former assistant to Nottingham coach Chris Raba, and guard Joey Baldachino is a Notre Dame transfer.

“I was happy to be out of the Bordentown Tournament, we were in that for five years,” Raba said. “I liked that tournament when we were in it, but this was a better out-of-conference game for us than what we would have gotten there.

Joseph said the Northstars are all in on winning the title, noting that, “we have unfinished business, we want to win a holiday tournament.”

Steinert got Kyle Flanagan his first win as the Spartans head coach with its squeaker over Raritan, and will meet host New Egypt in the 4:30 p.m. championship game Friday.

Mario Mazur led the way with 11 points, while Lamont Morrison tallied 10 and Ryan Meszaros scored eight.

Trailing 10-5 after one quarter, Steinert tied it 14-14 at halftime and took a six-point lead after three quarters before holding Raritan off.

The new head coach felt defense was the difference.

“Coming into the game we knew that Raritan’s strength was its outside shooting ability and they had a lot of success in there season so far using the three-point shot to win some games,” Flanagan said. “Our game plan was to limit the open looks from behind the arc and have them keep the ball out of their favorite looks. The guys carried out our game plan great and contested or denied a lot of the outside looks.”

Offensively, the Spartans also carried out the game plan.

“We were able to force the ball down low to take advantage with our size and then work the ball in and out to score the ball,” Flanagan said. “It was a great team effort and the guys have really bought in to our scheming and game plans.”

About The Author

Rich Fisher has been around the Hamilton Township sports scene for so long that he actually got Rich Giallella’s autograph when Giallella was still a player! Proud product of Hamilton YMCA and Lou Gehrig baseball leagues and former teammate of Jim Maher on a very average Barton & Cooney rec basketball team, Fish graduated from Nottingham Junior High and Steinert High school and has covered township sports since 1980. His goal in life is to convince Maria Prato that Jersey tomatoes are at least 100 times better than California tomatoes.