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“Locked in” and “Unselfish” – Stateliners Boys Basketball Seek Second Straight Rotary Title after Win over Freedom

By Tom Mugavero

PHILLIPSBURG, NJ - Junior point guard Matthew Scerbo Jr. tied his career-high with 27 points and senior forward Andrew Martin added 17 to lead Phillipsburg High School past Freedom, 56-33, in the first round of the Easton Rotary Holiday basketball tournament at Easton’s Middle School.

“When Scerbo Jr. and Martin are locked in the team really feeds off of that and everybody gets going,” Phillipsburg coach Todd Sigafoos said. “And they were flying high from the start. The other guys just feed off of that that and it carries over to the whole team.”

The Stateliners boys will join the girl’s team in playing arch-rival Easton in Thursday’s championship games with the girls starting at 6 p.m. and the boys following about 20 minutes after the girls game ends.

Easton’s boys won its first-round game, 55-39, over Hatboro Horsham. The Stateliners boys, who will be looking for their second straight Rotary Holiday title, have won four straight since an opening night loss.

“We showed a lot of unselfishness on the offensive end tonight,” said Scerbo Jr., after delivering a handful of assists on the night which is his want. “We’re all playing together and passing the ball around. That’s the way good teams play. Very unselfish.”

The ‘Liners took control of the game at the end of the first quarter until early in the third with a 29-9 run that gave them a 39-18 lead on a Scerbo Jr. 3-pointer from Alan Palos. Senior forward Jayveon Jackson and junior forward Jason Abbott came off the bench to spark the beginning of the surge.

“We knew Freedom was going to sit down in their 1-3-1 zone,” Sigafoos said. “We preached looking opposite and Jayveon is a great passer. When he gets the ball in the middle he’s constantly looking to pass to the wing. When those guys come off the bench and contribute like that, we’re very tough.”

Abbott came up with a couple of assists along with three rebounds quickly and Jackson pulled down a defensive rebound that resulted in a Martin transition basket. He followed with a rare 3-pointer and then late in the run he assisted Scerbo Jr’s jumper from the wing and made a layup from Martin.  

“Defensively we picked it up there,” Scerbo Jr. said. “We got a lot of fastbreaks and easy buckets and that’s how we want to play. We’ve been using that one loss as motivation to never let down.” 


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