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By Michael Cohen
The Hackensack High School Comets were unable to overcome the experience and strength of Passaic County Tech’s front court, falling in the first round of the North 1, Group 4 state boys’ basketball playoffs 63-52 Tuesday night. The Comets finished the 2013-14 season at 9-15.
“Our record doesn’t define the season. The guys worked really hard. They gave us everything they possibly could. It’s a new group. For a lot of these guys, it’s their first experience,” said Hackensack Coach Aaron Taylor.
After Hackensack grabbed an early 3-1 lead on sophomore Edward Emedoh’s three-pointer, it became apparent that Passaic’s two big men, Zaheem Bell and Brevon Brevard, were the real stories of the show as they dominated the glass from the outset.
The duo combined for 10 of Passaic Tech’s first 12 points, including a long three-pointer by Brevard and a couple of buckets by Bell to build a 12-7 lead. The Comets had chances to chip away but could not overcome their own mistakes. Missed shots by Phillip Hammond and Tommy Smith eventually gave way to a huge three-pointer by Bell to extend the Passaic Tech lead to eight, 17-9.
Still, the Comets never gave up. They clawed back to within two points, 20-18. Emedoh had three buckets in the Comets’ five-minute run, and Terrell Bonner added a score after stripping the basketball from Passaic Tech to lead the Hackensack comeback.
Yet, it wasn’t enough. Passaic’s fast break became too much for Hackensack. Marquise Hansford hit a jump shot to extend the lead back out to four before Tyree Frazier stole a pass from Ahmed Bailey and slammed the ball home on the other end to make it 24-18. Vic Mitchell stole Hackensack’s pass and dropped it in, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to eight.
Before long, Hackensack was down 10 points and would spend the rest of the evening trying to erase that deficit. The Comets attempted more shots than Passaic by the end of the game, but they couldn’t get the ball to drop consistently through the hoop.
“That has been the story of our season. We played really good defense. We get what we want, but on offense we haven’t been able to consistently get shots down,” said Taylor.
The Comets did close to within seven points early in the fourth quarter when Emedoh nailed a three-pointer from the top of the arch to cut the deficit to 48-41; however, Passaic Tech answered quickly when Mitchell nailed his only three-point attempt of the night, making it a 10-point game again, 51-41. Final score: Passaic Tech 63, Hackensack 52.
Emedoh led the Comets with 18 points, and Bonner was second in scoring with 10 for Hackensack. Zaheem Bell, whom Hackensack struggled to guard against, finished with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting.