Westfield spoils Scotch Plains comeback bid; Raiders endure latest series of growing pains


Photo courtesy of Matthew Kipp

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the young Scotch Plains-Fanwood varsity basketball team is finding that wins are hard to come by.


The Raider squad (3-8) endured their latest growing pains in a tough 60-59 loss to rival Westfield (6-6) last Thursday, Jan. 17 at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.


The rivalry between the two schools sparked an eventful game. Scotch Plains stormed back from a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter behind senior guard Anthony Porter and junior forward Justin Guy. The guard and the forward each scored 16 points and manufactured the comeback while Raiders leading scorer, junior Jayson Williams, was held to eight points.


Despite SPF’s 3-8 record, coach Steve Siracusa is optimistic about the team’s future.

“Our goals are now to finish,” Siracusa said. “We are getting in these games and were losing a lot of close games to tough teams. We are not doing the little things right to get us over that little hump. We are going to keep working hard and we’re not going to give up.”


In the first half, the Raiders struggled offensively against the Blue Devils’ high press which caused many offensive turnovers. The Raiders trailed 15-13 after one quarter, but Westfield went on an 11-0 run early in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 12-point lead (33-21) that they never relinquished.


While shots were not falling in the second quarter for the Raiders, they did not show enough fight when there was adversity according to Siracusa.


“I think the first half they [Westfield] wanted it a little more than us and that’s what frustrated me and the coaching staff the most,” Siracusa added when asked about what he said to the team at halftime. “We challenged their effort and their heart and that really made it a game.”


Despite the coaches halftime remarks, the third quarter started off sour for the Raiders. Westfield built on its 12 point lead with an 11-4 run during the first four minutes of the third. Towards the end of the third quarter, the Raider defense came up with stops which began to open up easy opportunities on the offensive end. In the fourth quarter, the Raiders doubled the Blue Devils in score 26-13 but could not overcome the early deficit.


“In the second half we went into some different offenses and different sets,” assistant coach Kyle Anderson said. “Our defense helps us create the offense a little bit. The more stops we got, the more opportunities we had to come down on the offensive end and convert the opportunities.”


Despite a fantastic second half from Porter, SPF struggled against Westfield in the backcourt. Westfield’s backcourt outplayed the Raider backcourt for three quarters. The Blue Devil backcourt (which consisted of Matt Crawley, Jake Walsh, Andrew Echausse and Griffin Rooney) all shot well from the field. The Blue Devil backcourt outscored the Raider guards 38 to 24, for more than half of Westfields points.


As the Raiders continue to climb back into games after slow starts, it appears there is a very promising future for this team, as it is made up of mostly sophomores and juniors. If they can play four quarters of smart, hard basketball, they will be a team with a ton of potential going into next year