By Bobby Klatt
Shore Sports Network Correspondent

ABERDEEN TWP. - Old Bridge led from the opening tip and used a late run to pull away and take the Husky Holiday Classic tournament championship over host Matawan 60-46 Wednesday.

After the Knights broke open a 41-30 lead going into the fourth, Matawan closed the gap with a quick 7-2 run before an altercation underneath the basket between two players saw both coaches run onto the court to break up the scuffle.

From the exchange, two players from the Old Bridge bench were ejected for coming onto the court and intervening and two technical fouls – one for the team for the starting altercation, and a flagrant foul for a two-hand shove from a Old Bridge player during the aftermath – were assessed. The scuffle caused a six-minute delay as things were sorted out with 5:52 remaining.

Photo by Bobby Klatt.

“I’m extremely proud on how our guys reacted with the altercation and how they handled themselves when it got hectic,” said Matawan first-year head coach John Giraldo.

After the delay, the Huskies pulled within two before the Knights finished the game on a 17-5 run behind Connor Romano, who scored nine of his 14 points in the second half.

“Every game in the tournament has been a battle like tonight,” said Old Bridge head coach Jim Macomber. “There aren’t going to be any easy nights in the GMC (Greater Middlesex Conference) so we have to make sure we win close, tough games like this one.”

“We are young team with guys who really don’t have the varsity experience,” Giraldo said. “I know the end result isn’t what we were looking for, but I’m very proud of our guys for battling back each time they made a run.”

Free throws played a significant role, especially late in the game as Matawan shot a mere 10-for-25 from the line for the game while Old Bridge, which found itself in the bonus the entire fourth quarter, shot 13-for-19 from the stripe in the second half.

The game started out with a hot pace as Kyle Paris, who finished with a game-high 15, scored the first six points for the Knights before Reggie Tawiah did the same with back-to-back threes. Old Bridge battled their way to an 11-7 lead after the first.

The physical battle continued in the second quarter, which led to a set of runs, but the Knights found themselves leading 23-21 at the break despite shooting 3-for-15 from behind the arc. Old Bridge had to play the last two minutes of the half with three starters on the bench with two fouls.

The Knights broke the game open with a 19-9 third quarter behind threes from Stephen Strom and Paris that help push their lead to 41-30.

“We were going back and forth and they kept fighting and then we were able to get a few shots to go down and Stephen Strom hit a three to get the game to 10,” Macomber said.

Senior Randy Myers led Matawan with 15 points, while Tawiah finished with 13.