Westfield vs. SPFHS Boys Basketball Preview


Robert Fallo

The Fight of Fights. The Basketball Brawl. The Westfield Wrangle. The Scotch Plains Scuffle. The most anticipated basketball game is finally here for the Blue Devils and Raiders, as Westfield and Scotch Plains will finally go toe-to-toe tonight. The matchup is filled with all kind of intrigue, and The Fanscotian is here to put everything in a nutshell.
Tale of The Tape
The Blue Devil ballers will walk into the Raider gym Thursday night with a 6-7 record, yet the wins and losses do not match their skill. Of their seven defeats this year, Westfield has lost six of those games to highly ranked teams within New Jersey: Linden, St. Mary’s (Elizabeth), Roselle Catholic, Union Catholic, St. Joseph and the Patrick School. But even in their wins, Westfield has never truly dominated a game, with four of their six wins decided by less than 11 points, three of which that were by a margin of six points or less. The reason for the blow-out defeats and wins by the skin of their teeth have been because of a lacking offense. Even with senior Matt LaCorte, who has the most three pointers in program history, the Blue Devils have only reached 60 points once this season and have averaged well under 50 points so far during their 2016-17 campaign. To pull out a win against SPFHS, Westfield will have to maximize their offense potential, something that has not been seen yet this season.
Player to Watch: Senior Matt LaCorte, #2
Providing the best source of offense this season, Westfield’s 6’2 shooting guard has been the best player so far for the Blue Devils. Averaging 13.5 points per game, LaCorte can stretch the court for the offense with his ability to hit the three pointer (2.1 three’s made per game) while still mixing in shots from within the arc. LaCorte can also get to boards just like the big men, recording 6.6 rebounds per games. Ultimately, LaCorte leads Westfield in points, rebounds and three pointers while being second on the team in assists. If LaCorte wants to upset the Raiders tonight he will have to continue with his hot hand from downtown and facilitate the offense efficiently enough with long possessions to prevent the ball from getting into the hands of the potent SPFHS offense.
Scotch Plains
Tale of The Tape
The Raiders waltz into this matchup with the school record for most amount of wins in their first 14 games. After their 13 game win streak to open up the year, SPFHS will look to bounce back after Tuesday’s loss to Roselle. After last season’s 3-21 record, the Raiders could not be more different this year. Last year, SPFHS had a stagnant offense with the inability to consistently make shots from the three point line. In addition to an offense that had trouble getting the ball through the basket, the Raiders would let teams shoot all over them. Those two weaknesses from last year have turned into two strengths this year. For the offense, senior Teddy Willmott and junior Tommy Drubulis have allowed the Raiders to score 55 points a game, an average that is 13 points higher than last year’s team. Backing up the improved offense is a stubborn man-to-man defense SPFHS puts out every night. The tenacious defense has given up only 43 points a game. The Raiders take the most pride in that stat since head coach Steve Siracusa has preached that ‘defense is the key’ since the beginning of the season.
Player To Watch: Senior Teddy Willmott, #3
The lefty point guard for the Raiders has been the backbone of the team this season. Willmott has already earned accolades this season, being named UCC Athlete of the Week as well as being named the fourth best senior in the state according to a poll on NJ.com. His play proves worthy of those rewards. He has doubled his points per game total since last season and has played stout defense against every offense so far. Not to mention, Willmott has had his share of clutch threes in close games to give the Raiders momentum. He is the definition of a game-changer. If Willmott leads the Raiders out of the locker room with the play he has had all season, SPFHS should feel comfortable with their chances in tonight’s contest.
Common Opponents
Westfield: 12/30, Win 55-34 … 1/17, Loss 55-51
Scotch Plains: 12/17, Win 50-47
Just like any rivalry game, the intensity of the game should be sky high. These types of games are always high pressure and will bring out the best performances within the players. Scotch Plains has been on a roll this season and should continue to to win tonight. SPFHS only has to focus on LaCorte while on defense. If they cover him well and defend him from the three point line Westfield will have no other offensive input. Combine this with a Raider offense that has been firing on all cylinders lately and SPFHS should come out with the win.
Westfield 48, Scotch Plains 59