The boys’ varsity basketball team came into their MCAL match up with Justin Siena on January 17 with five players out, including senior and leading scorer Jackson Floum, but was still able to pull out a 60-57 win. Tam got out to an early lead thanks to tough defense and great play by both junior power forward Lorenzo Jordan and senior shooting guard Darien Miller-Gowan. Miller-Gowan was 2 of 3 on three-pointers in the 1st quarter and Tam was up 12-5. In the 2nd quarter, both teams broke out offensively. Justin Siena’s press defense led many players, including Senior Michael Thomas. However, Thomas still managed to score on a no-look, over the head lay-up. Tam gained a 10 point lead, but sloppy play brought Justin Siena back in the mix, ending the first half 27-22.
Justin Siena opened the 2nd half with a quick four points, but Jordan countered with a 3-pointer of his own along with another layup. The third quarter continued with both teams exchanging scoring runs but Tam finished with a 42-39 lead. The fourth quarter was a score fest, starting off with Justin Siena gaining a 43-42 advantage. However Thomas helped Tam regain the lead with a key basket. Justin Siena claimed the lead again but recent-sub, Austin Arnold, hit a two-pointer for another Tam lead, 48-47. After another Tam score, Justin Siena responded with 5 unanswered points making it 52-50. Dual Free-throws by Arnold tied it up at 52 but another Justin Siena push led them to a 55-54 lead. However, Jordan would not be stopped as a key bucket put Tam up 56-55. With approximately 40 seconds left, a 1 and 1 foul gave Justin the opportunity to hit 1 free throw and shoot another if the first went in. Justin Siena missed the first bucket but an improper buzzer led to a redo of the shot and two made free throws. However, as the Tam team ran down the court, Thomas drew a foul with 8 seconds left and sunk both of the ensuing free-throws, sealing the game. Tam would hold on, winning 60-57.
“I think it’s obviously a big win for the boys,” said Coach Michael Coffino. “We were down five players to injury and illness and one thing we saw last Saturday was that this is now our team. Everyone plays together, trustful of each other, and supportive, and that’s the kind of effort you get. Tonight they showed not just talent but heart.”
“It was a phenomenal team game,” said Jordan. “We had five players injured three of [whom] were main contributors [along with] two starters, so other people had to step up and rise to the occasion and they did just that. We got contributions throughout the team and it was just a great team win.”
A few of these contributions came from Miller-Gowan and Thomas. Miller-Gowan credits his play to solid passing and looking for the open man while Thomas only had one word to explain his game-deciding free throws. “Confidence,” he said.