By Ryan Fennell
Middletown – Christian Brothers Academy avenged an early season loss and inched closer to the top of the heap in A North on Tuesday night with a, 61-55, victory over Colts Neck on Tuesday night.
In fact, CBA has avenged two early season division losses this week having defeated Manalapan, 68-49, on Jan. 17.
The Colts opened the season in December with two straight division losses against Manalapan, 59-50, on Dec. 14 and Colts Neck, 62-46, on Dec. 18.
But, with 7 wins in their last 8 games the Colts are now 11-4 overall with a 7-2 A North record, cutting Colts Neck’s (12-3, 8-1) lead atop the division to one game and putting some distance between themselves and third place Middletown North, which CBA defeated, 55-48, on Jan. 8.
CBA got off to a hot start from the field in Tuesday’s contest hitting five three-pointers in the first half and leading by as much as 14 late in the second quarter before heading to the locker room with a 36-24 lead.
“We played very well offensively in the first half,” Christian Brothers Academy head coach Geoff Billet said.
Colts Neck made a run in the second half that slowly eroded CBA’s lead down to three at, 53-50, with just over two minutes to play in the game, but the Colts responded to go right back up by 9 at, 59-50, before winning, 61-55.
“We knew they were going to make a run and we were prepared for that, “ Billet said. “They’re a very good team and we weren’t going to win the game by double figures.
“The good thing for [this team] and their growth is we’ve been in a lot of close games,” Billet said when asked about his team’s ability to remain composed when its lead shrunk to three points. “We’ve had to work hard in every single game. I’m hoping that’s going to benefit us down the road.”
Along with a consistent offense, CBA managed to contain Colts Neck’s Brandon Federici, holding him to just 10 points in the game. Federici scored at will against the Colts back in December, dropping in 29 points in the routing.
Junior Louie Pillari led CBA’s offense with 17 points and was the main component on defense to shutting down Federici.
Freshman Pat Andree added 14 points for the Colts.
“We’re improving,” Billet said. “We’ve gotten better. We’re pretty tough at home anyway and coming off losses to Manalapan and Colts Neck, the guys were hungry for the game and I think that showed in their play.
“I think our guys have just improved as a team,” he added. “The first two games we gave up 62 and 59 points. I knew it’d be a process and I think we just had to go through it. We still have a long way to go.
“We’re not where I hope this team can be in another month and we still have a lot of tough games left to play.”