by Andrew Garda

MILLBURN — The Montclair High School boys basketball team played a good first half, keeping pace with a disciplined Millburn team, but stumbled badly in the second half, losing 55-39.

The two halves couldn't have been more different.

In the first, the Mounties played a tight, controlled defense, overcoming several runs by the Millers, and trailing by just five points at the half, 26-21. The defense moved very well, shifting with the ball as Millburn tried to find an open man, and then converting rebounds and steals into points at the other end.

When Charles Murphy Jr grabbed a rebound, moved up court and found Deshawn Davis for a bucket at the buzzer, the momentum seemed to have settled on Montclair's side of the court.

Something shifted at halftime for both teams, though.

The Millers, a team who is well coached by head coach Rodger Blind (who notched his 300th victory on Saturday), settled down at both ends.

Defensively then were effective at disrupting the Mounties' passing, while on the offensive side they hammered the glass and came away with a lot of second chances which were converted to points.

On the other side of the court, Montclair simply seemed to stop playing as a cohesive unit. The ball didn't move well between players, plays seemed to be disjointed and coaching direction from the bench wasn't translating to action on the court.

The third period was about as big a disaster as one could imagine, with MHS outscored 13-3.

While Montclair righted the ship a bit in the fourth quarter, the hole proved to be too big to climb out of.

They now have two weeks to prepare for Hackensack, their first opponent in the state tournament.

For more details on the game as well as quotes from the coach, check out the Thursday print edition of the Montclair Local or check back at this site.