Bergen Catholic sets another date with Don Bosco by Greg Mattura of The Record
HACKENSACK – Bergen Catholic stormed to a double-digit lead before Ramapo even scored its first point.
The top-seeded Crusaders never gave the No. 5 Green Raiders a hint of a chance during a 70-55 victory in Sunday’s semifinals of the 62nd Bergen County Jamboree boys basketball tournament.
Zach Freemantle, Bergen Catholic’s junior forward, punished Ramapo inside with game-highs of 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks at Fairleigh Dickinson’s Rothman Center.
Meanwhile, sophomore forward Matt Zona, the other half of the Crusaders’ 6-foot-8 twin towers, chipped in 13 points and seven boards despite being saddled with foul trouble.
“There’s no mystery here,” Bergen Catholic coach Billy Armstrong said. “The ball needs to go to Matt and Zach.”
Jamboree aficionados have asserted that it’s no mystery that Bergen Catholic (22-2) will face defending champion and No. 2 Don Bosco (23-2) in the final at FDU on Friday at 7 p.m.
Freemantle was a handful in the first half while helping Bergen Catholic build a 40-28 lead. He had 13 points, six rebounds and one block, and the Crusaders shot 75 percent (15-for-20). Overall, they shot a sizzling 71 percent (25-for-35).
Bergen Catholic’s first half was punctuated by one of the longest buzzer-beaters in Jamboree history. After Ramapo junior guard KC Hunt converted a drive, Crusaders senior reserve Mike Koch took an inbounds pass from junior reserve Myles Wilmoth and, with a hand in his face, heaved in a 75-footer.
“That helped a lot,” Freemantle said. “It definitely cheered us up, because we didn’t end the quarter well, and then we hit that shot.”
Ramapo (19-4) kept plugging away in the second half but never cut the lead to single digits. Hunt scored a team-high 18, and the Green Raiders got 17 apiece from senior swingman Jason Oppler and junior guard John Whooley.
“Some games you can come back from that, but it’s very difficult when they have such an advantage inside to come back from a 12-1 deficit,” said Ramapo coach Joey Sandberg, who won a Jamboree title as a player for Bergen Catholic. “I think it really hurt our kids but we continued to battle. We cut it to nine, and then they got that 75-footer and it kind of took our sails out again. We played hard. We just didn’t make enough plays.”