ORION — It took four games for the inexperienced Tigers to put together four good defensive quarters, but Saturday night in Orion they did just that, beating the Mercer County Eagles 61-45 in the final game of the Orion Tip-Off Classic.
“We had a good effort on the defensive end,” Princeton coach Jesse Brandt said. “Our intensity was good for four quarters, and we didn’t have the breakdowns defensively.”
Princeton (1-3) opened the game with an 8-2 run, with pair of baskets by junior Garrett Duffin, and a three from senior Zach Hicks, eventually extending the lead to 14-3 at the end of the first.
This was just the start of the night for Duffin, who finished with a team high 35 points on 11 of 22 shooting from the field, including two of four from three-point range, and 11 of 14 from the free throw line. He had tallied 27 points in the first three games combined.
“Garrett had a nice night. He was aggressive and got to the free throw line,” Brandt said. “We need to get J.J. (Vaccaro) going on the offensive end to help with the scoring load.”
The Tigers used full court pressure defense all night to force quick shots, turnovers and back to back 5 and 10 second counts from the Eagles. The Tigers’ defense forced 21 turnovers and countless hurried shots.
For the game, Mercer county shot 40 percent from the field, and were limited to just 37 field goal attempts for the game, compared to 52 attempts from the Tigers.
The Tigers were workman-like the rest of the evening, never allowing Mercer County to get any closer than 10 points, and at some points stretching out the lead to as many as 20, before the final of 61-45.
Notes: There was a tie between undefeated Monmouth-Roseville, Dixon and Fulton, which all finished 4-0 in the eight-team field. By virtue of the tie-breaker for fewest points allowed, Monmouth-Roseville (132) finished first, Dixon (145) second and Fulton (187).
The PHS sophomores claimed third place with a 46-10 win over Mercer County. Skye Behrends had 14 points and Jake Reinhardt eight.