Boys Basketball: Fans Rejoice as Raiders win their second straight

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Matthew Levine

In the span of about 36 hours, the Raiders and their fans found themselves rejoice after their second straight win – a shining moment in a season that has been very bleak. While the Raiders still have much room to improve, the win provides a friendly reminder of their great potential. 
The winning feeling returned for the second straight time Saturday afternoon after the Raiders (4-9) defeated the Governor Livingston Highlanders (4-8) in a 50-46 victory. 
Junior Hayden Widder led the Raiders with a career-high 20 points and four assists. Widder had 15 points in the first half that helped the team build an eight point lead at halftime. 
“Hayden is a real tough player — he is a fighter,” coach Steve Siracusa said. “He’s been shooting the ball a lot better recently — he did it in the first half. He got a little banged up but he kept playing. I knew he was going to keep fighting through it because we need him out there and he showed up and really helped us.” 
Leading by eight points at halftime, the Raiders were outscored 16-7 in the third quarter and trailed 38-37 as the fourth quarter began. Turnovers and a lackluster effort on defense plagued the Raiders in the third quarter. 
“I thought in the third quarter [Governor Livingston] just wanted it a little bit more and if we really wanted to get a win here today we needed to pick up our energy and our effort,” Siracusa said. “It was just the will to want it, and I think that made the difference there in the fourth.” 
After the rough third quarter, the Raiders showed their mental strength and took over the fourth quarter. Junior Christian Piesch led the team with two blocked shots in the fourth as part of a tremendous defensive effort by the squad and Widder who was quiet for most of the second half, had a huge three-pointer with 3:30 left in the game. 
“It was really just trying to beat them to the spot and preventing them from getting comfortable posting up or cutting in front of us on cuts or drives,” Siracusa said. 
With a rematch Tuesday night at 7 against Westfield, Siracusa believes the Raiders are a different team than when the two first played (a 55-20 loss). 
“I really do believe we are a different team now than we were then,” Siracusa said. I think we’re shooting the ball with a lot more confidence. We’re playing more together and we’re definitely playing harder, so I’m really excited to see how much improvement we can make, going into Tuesday against Westfield.”