Highlanders boys basketball team on a roll

| 29 Jan 2019 | 01:38

By Garrett Hemmerich
WEST MILFORD – The Highlanders boys’ basketball team held off Wayne Hills in an away contest Jan. 24, beating the Patriots 67-62.
“We are playing together, making some tough shots and being led both on offense and defense by our senior point guard Chris Gomez,” said head coach John Finke. “He is playing at a very high level at both ends of the floor.”
West Milford started the game strong, taking a 16-point lead into the locker room at the half, but Wayne Hills just wouldn’t go away.
The Patriots outscored the Highlanders 44-33 in the second half.
It wasn’t enough, however, as West Milford was able to hold on for the win off the strong play of Gomez and Josiah Basket, whose outstanding season continued with a 36-point performance.
Senior big men Zack Milko and Brandon Licursi also combined for 27 rebounds.
The victory marked the team’s sixth win in a row as its last loss came against Fair Lawn on Jan.8.
According to coach Finke, the keys to their recent success have been a more spirited effort and intensity on defense and a continued emphasis on getting off to a good start.
“We are consistently outrebounding our opponent, too,” he added.
Going into the Jan. 25 game, West Milford was coming off of a big home win against Wayne Valley in which the team had four players score in the double digits.
Basket (24), Licursi (12), Gomez (11), and junior forward Kevin DeRaffele (16) were all critical in the Highlander’s 77-68 win over the Indians.
DeRaffele and Basket were both also pivotal in the team’s close Jan. 17 win over Passaic, with Basket scoring a team-leading 23 points and DeRaffele scoring 20 of his own to go with his eight rebounds.
The final score was 59-56.
West Milford looks to keep its winning streak alive when the team travels to Clifton next to take on the Mustangs on Jan. 31.