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Boys Basketball: Lenape rolls past Clearview to reach S.J. Gr 4 semis

03/05/2020, 9:15pm EST
By Joe Tansey, SJSD

The Indians took control with an 18-0 run to open the 2nd quarter and will host Atlantic City on Saturday

MEDFORD -- Derek Simpson and his Lenape teammates did not panic when faced with a seven-point deficit after one quarter. 

The Indians responded with an 18-0 run to begin the second quarter that put away Clearview before halftime in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals. 

Lenape maintained control the rest of the way to record a 72-40 win and the Indians will host Atlantic City on Saturday in the semifinals.

A few defensive adjustments and a reminder to relax from head coach Matt Wolf helped in the breakaway stretch. 

“They were super hot in the first quarter,” Simpson said. “We let them shoot the ball and we slacked a little bit and didn’t get out to them at the three-point line” 

“I just told them to relax and we’re going to be okay,” Wolf said. “They were hitting their shots and we had a few miscommunications early on our switches. We cleaned it up and we did a better job getting back on defense.” 

Simpson took control on the offensive end by being more aggressive with his driving into the lane. 

The sophomore guard ended up with 18 points. Riley Spitznas (14) and Anthony Cortese (12) also reached double digits in points for the Indians. 

“I started attacking more because I noticed the lane was more open,” Simpson said. “They were face guarding me and I knew if I scored, we would get open shots or I was going to get open.” 

“That’s what Derek does,” Wolf said. “He’s got such a good sense of the game. He knows when to go and when not to. He’s a special player.” 

An increased defensive presence, led by Spitznas, also gave the Indians more comfort going into the half. 

And if Lenape did not have enough comfort out of the break, it went on a 9-0 run to further increase the advantage. 

“In the past couple of games, it’s one of the bigger wins because I thought our defense was pretty good for three quarters,” Simpson said. “In the past couple of games, our defense has been very good. Hopefully, it keeps going.” 

After top-seeded Toms River North fell to Egg Harbor Township in the first round, Lenape at No. 2 is the highest remaining seed in the bracket. 

The Indians know what comes with more victories, but they are focused on the task at hand in the semifinals before playing a sectional final in its own gym. 

“We were very excited hearing the No. 1 seed went down,” Simpson said. “We have to come out and perform every day.” 

“We know that as long as we win, we’ll be home,” Wolf said. “We’re excited about that. We’ll be ready and we’re happy they are coming here.”

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