Fort Lee’s Second Half Lead Snowballs into Westwood Win
The Cardinals outscored the Bridgemen 39-14 in the second half to secure the comeback victory, 52-36.
After leading by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Fort Lee Bridgemen saw their lead evaporate into a 16 point loss on Tuesday night against Westwood.
“We defended incredibly well in the second half,” said Westwood head coach John Santulli. “We were not playing any defense in the first half.”
Early on, Fort Lee gained the advantage by dishing the ball inside to sophomore center Anthony Rafes. The down-low presence scored six of the first eight points for the Bridgemen in a new offensive set.
At the beginning of the year, Fort Lee head coach John Ziemba mentioned how his team’s offensive attack was founded mostly around the guard play. Now, the 20-year head coach has changed that philosophy to include the 6’6’’ center.
“The new offense we put it is to get him the ball,” Ziemba said. “We have to go through Anthony and he is still a sophomore but I’m still trying to see what certain guys can do.”
Rafes also added two blocks to go along with his six points in the first quarter.
In the late stages of the first and the first few minutes of the second quarter, Fort Lee rallied for a 10-0 run on their way to a double-digit lead.
Westwood trailed 22-13 at the half but exited the break by scoring the first seven points. Following a layup from Fort Lee’s sophomore guard Tandee Mushandu, the Cardinals went on to net the next 11 points in a row, turning a double-digit deficit into a lead.
When the third quarter was over, the Westwood Cardinals outscored the Fort Lee Bridgemen 24-6 in the period and silenced most of the home fans.
“It was upsetting,” said Rafes. “I thought we had it. We all did.”
Coach Ziemba noticed a change in his team during the third quarter.
“We pout. It looks like we’re tired but we pout,” said Ziemba. “When the other team makes a run, we don’t have it in us to make a real good set offensively from the half court or step in for the charge.”
Senior forward Kasim Mamud scored a game high 17 points in the contest and helped build a Cardinals comeback with five made shots from beyond the arc.
“We’ve talked about giving him no space, challenging and finding him,” Ziemba said. “The ones he hit in the first half, we made defensive mistakes and that gets the kid confident.”
“He takes such great shots,” Kasim’s coach added. “When he does that with a stroke like his, he is going to make a bunch.”
Mamud had eight of the Westwood points in the first half and assisted the Cardinals in completing the comeback 52-36.
“I was really impressed with our comeback but I’m also very impressed with Fort Lee,” Santulli said. “They’re going to be really good.”
Westwood will now host Dumont on Thursday at 7 p.m. as Fort Lee travels to play Lyndhurst at the same time. Fort Lee may be without sophomore guard Nick Gentile, who left the game with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-high 10 points along with fellow sophomore Rafes.