Eagles cruise in state opener

By James Evans

In front of roaring home fans and a raucous opposing crowd, the South Hunterdon Eagles got the win over the Academy Charter Panthers, 57-28, Tuesday night. Led by player of the game Tyler Frazee, who had 13 points, five rebounds and two steals, the Eagles improved to 19-6 on the year.

Both crowds were going crazy at the start of the game, with the Panther fans traveling very well to see their team play. Parents, students, even cheerleaders showed up to combat the rowdy “Blue Crew” from South Hunterdon. And in the first quarter, it looked like the Panther fans could be cheering for a first-round upset. An 8-7 South first quarter was “lowlighted” by senior guard Jake Whitaker going 0 for 3 shooting. Finishing with only two points on 0 for 9 shooting from the floor, Whitaker talked about his performance after the game: “It was good to get my first state win, actually everyone’s first state win, despite the performance I had tonight.” That win was secured in the second quarter, as the Eagles led 28-13 at the half, inspired by a 10-0 run to open the second quarter.

At the half, three Eagles had five or more rebounds, as Frazee, John Conlon (six) and Clay Hope (seven) all played well in finding the missed shots. Postgame, Hope, who also had six points in the contest, talked about how he was “worn out from practice this week after a hard loss at Bound Brook.”

To open the second half, the Eagles had a 7-0 run to effectively ice the game, with senior guard Daniel Begg playing great in the run. When asked about his night (six points), Begg said it was an “electric feel to the game with both fans going nuts for their team” and that it “was truly fun to see.”

In hopes for a second-round win and their second 20-win season in three years, the Eagles will play South River tomorrow night as part of a doubleheader at home. The Eagles will need to contain star senior Matt Martinez, who had 38 points in South River’s opening-round game against Henry Hudson. The girls’ team will open its state run against Shore at 6 p.m. and the boys will play at 8 p.m.