Trying to contain Hackensack super sophomore Rashard Figures is no easy task.
Just ask Paddy Quinn.
The Don Bosco senior is known for his astute leadership and uncanny ability to pop a much-needed jumper from beyond the arc, but during Sunday afternoon’s Bergen Jamboree semifinal, he opened many eyes by executing on the defensive side of the ball.
Quinn held Figures to just 13 points – well below his season average of 20 – and contributed to a balanced offensive effort as the Ironmen cruised past the Comets, 76-59, and punched their tickets to the big stage.
Don Bosco will look to upend undefeated Teaneck, ranked No. 3 in MSG Varsity’s Garden State power rankings, in the Bergen Jamboree championship on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Ramapo College.
Figures, a 6-foot-5 scoring machine who has already generated a ton of Division I interest, was held in check by Quinn while Leonte Carroo paced the Ironmen with 22 points, while Paul Jorgensen added 11 and the team’s leading scorer, Jemal Mosley, chipped in 15.
What was Quinn’s secret?
“Playing against Jemal in practice all the time helped a lot,” Quinn said. “We really go after each other in practice, so it was very similar. Figures is a little taller, but other than that it was just like playing against Jemal. It brings the same mentality.”
Such a cerebral approach to stopping one of Bergen County’s top offensive forces enabled Don Bosco to jump out to an early 20-6 advantage late in the first quarter. Eventually, Hackensack crawled back, but never truly posed a threat.
“It was very important,” Jorgensen said when asked about constructing an early run. “They’re a good team and I play on the same AAU team as Figures, so we knew what he’s capable of doing. We knew he’s a great shooter, but Paddy did a great job defending him. He’s one of our best leaders and he knows how to do his job.”
Quinn also added 12 points for Don Bosco, which took a 36-24 lead into halftime and blew the contest wide open in the fourth. Now, the squad has afforded itself the chance to get some revenge against Teaneck, which defeated Tenafly, 60-36, in the other semifinal.
“Losing last year was heart-breaking, so it’s been in the back of our minds that we’d see them again,” Quinn said of falling in last season’s final to the Highwaymen, 72-67, in overtime. “We want them.”
The Ironmen can win the Jamboree for the fourth time in seven years and sixth time this decade, while Teaneck – winners of two of the last three titles -- is aiming to capture its tournament-leading 10th all-time crown.
“It was important to stay focused and stay in the game,” Mosley said. “They got us last year in the championship, so we’re coming back for revenge.”
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter