By Gavin Ems

ROBBINSVILLE – On Thursday night, the number one ranked team in the Colonial Valley league, The Nottingham Northstars, took on the seventh ranked Robbinsville Ravens in Robbinsville, New Jersey. After starting the season off strong winning five straight games, the Ravens have been in a rut within the last week, losing four straight games. On top of that, they have been struggling with injured players, forcing their younger bucks to step up. They truly had a daunting task ahead of them in battling against the Northstars, who have been rolling this season, losing only one game against Pitman in late December.

Nottingham dominated in the first quarter. They showcased their tough defense by forcing five turnovers in the quarter, but also scored baskets to take advantage of their defensive prowess. Nottingham went on a 7-0 run late in the first quarter with baskets from Dominic Raymond and Jordan Raba to help gain the edge against Robbinsville. The Ravens battled with grit too, Jack Miller, Sebastian Lee, and Evan Bunnell stepping up to put points on the board. They played good defense as well, double teaming Raymond down low. But, the story of this quarter is simply that Nottingham’s shots went in, and Robbinsville’s did not, as the Ravens shot 3 for 12 in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, Nottingham was leading 17-7.

The second quarter mirrored the first, with Nottingham dominating with their superb trap defense. The Northstars got into foul trouble, with three team fouls already on the board after only three minutes of play in the quarter. Robbinsville already had a steep hill to climb early in the game but started to gain momentum after a 7-0 run late in the quarter to cut Nottingham’s lead to just six points. However, a three pointer from Raba killed the Ravens’ scoring run, and it became a shootout after that with a three-ball from Tyler Bunnell in response. At the buzzer, Nottingham was still in the lead, 27-20.

Robbinsville started off strong in the third quarter, scoring points to inch closer to Nottingham and cut their lead down to just three points. The shootout that started late in the second quarter continued in the third. Every time the Ravens came closer to overtaking the Northstars, Nottingham would just inch farther away from them. Robbinsville did a great job drawing fouls and making free throws to stay close behind Nottingham. Eventually, the Ravens were able to tie the game at 33 a piece after a commanding slam-dunk from Tyler Bunnell. The Robbinsville bleachers exploded, and they had some life. With a minute to go, Tyler Bunnell put up a layup to finally overtake Nottingham andusurp their lead 37-36, which was Robbinsville’s first lead of the game since the infancy of the first quarter. Bunnell then fired a three pointer to grow the Ravens’ lead to six, the quarter ending 40-36.

Nottingham quickly got back on their feet in the fourth quarter, Raymond and Miller contributing six unanswered points to quickly take back their lead against Robbinsville. Both teams put up some good baskets and did a great job of drawing fouls to put more points on the board. It was a nail-biter of a game until later in the fourth quarter when Nottingham started to pull further away. The trouble Robbinsville had with getting their shots to fall in the first came back to haunt them in the fourth quarter. They put up some great shots and showed a great amount of effort but were just unlucky in the end. The Ravens got into foul trouble too, with five team fouls already on the board late in the fourth, Nottingham got a lot of opportunities to capitalize on the bonus and shoot free throws. Eventually, the mix of free throws from Nottingham and Robbinsville’s bad luck with shots going in resulted in a victory for Nottingham, with the final score being 57-47.

After the game, WBCB had the opportunity to interview the player of the game, Dominic Raymond from Nottingham. Nottingham has been in a lot of close games but has come out ahead in almost all of them, with a record of 7-1 before Thursday’s matchup against the Ravens. When asked what that says about the group of players at Nottingham, Raymond responded, “We just keep fighting. It doesn’t matter who the team is or how many points we’re up by or if we’re losing. We always come back and find a way to just keep pushing. That’s it.” They certainly are pushing, as their victory against Robbinsville is their third in a row, and will improve their record to 8-1, still standing as the number one ranked team in the Colonial Valley league. They will match up against the fifth ranked Princeton Tigers on Friday. As for Robbinsville, this will be their fifth straight loss, as their record worsens to 5-5. They will take on the Hightstown Rams on Friday.