February 5, 2023

In Monday night’s fascinating out-of-conference basketball competition between Colonia and Robbinsville, both teams sat in NJSIAA Group 3 at the top of their respective power point scores.

In theory – with defending champions Colonia of North Jersey 2 and Group 3 in second on those points and the Ravens second in Central Jersey, Group 3 – Monday’s encounter could have been an early glimpse of a Group 3 title match early March.

But that’s still a long way off: At the moment, both teams are trying to gain momentum in league and district tournaments. It was the Patriots who found a way to take the win as they used a run in the second half to win 47-45.

Anthony Gooden knocked down a three with two seconds left to lead Colonia (13-4) to victory. Noah Taylor led the Patriots with 13 points while Patrick Kapp led all scorers with 17 for the Ravens (12-5).

“It gave us a nudge towards our goals and got the one seed in our group to help do what we did last year,” Gooden said.

After Robbinsville built a nine-point lead in the second quarter, the visitors fell behind for the rest of the first half. Colonia reduced the deficit to four several times late in that half and early in the second, but the Patriots failed to make enough stops on the defensive end to reduce that deficit. However, they finished the third with a 4-0 run to cut it to 39-35 and went into the fourth to finally take the lead.

Colonia continued its run in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, eventually taking a 40-39 lead with 5:20 left after Aiden Derkack blocked a foul shot. That run jumped to 12-0 (and the lead to 43-39) when Gooden hit a three from a steal before Kapp eventually scored Robbinsville’s first points of the fourth.

Then it was the Ravens’ turn to run, and it came at the most crucial times. Tyler Handy got the rebound on Kapp’s ensuing free throw to equal it 43-43 with three minutes remaining, then put the hosts ahead 45-43 with two fouls in the final 120 seconds.

Colonia were trailing with 45 seconds left and had to give up three fouls before the hosts went to the line for the bonus. But the Patriots got a steal and played for the final shot. The gamble worked and Colonia got away with a last-second win.

“That was a huge motivation for me to keep going,” Gooden said. “And I also think knowing that I can get that shot is a huge motivator for my team. We just have to keep going.”

For both teams, each aiming for silver medals over the next six weeks, this game should help them achieve that goal.

“This was a huge game for us to prepare for the postseason,” said Kapp. “Tonight was a good competition against a very good team. That’s why the coach scheduled this game. We’re trying to do what they did. They are section champions and we are putting up a good fight.”

“We’re focused on one game at a time right now,” Gooden said. “We will see Thomas Aquinas again, and we only want that one seed.”

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