NEPA Sports Nation

Rosa, Cranage lift Raiders into lead

By Tom Robinson,

NEW MILFORD – J.J. Rosa and Connor Cranage reversed offensive roles at times Friday night.

In doing so, they made sure Blue Ridge maintained its productivity while closing in on the possibility of changing its basketball history.

Rosa and Cranage combined for 38 points while leading the team in each of the other statistical categories as Blue Ridge took over the Lackawanna League Division 4 boys basketball lead with a 63-57 victory over visiting Forest City.

The Raiders, pursuing the first divisional boys basketball title in the school’s 70-year history, moved one-half game in front heading into the last week of the season.

The teams, however, are even in the loss column, meaning that if they both win the remaining games, there will need to be a playoff to determine the championship.

Rosa, the team’s runaway assist leader, more than tripled his season scoring average with 21 points. Cranage, coming off reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career with a year-plus still to go, dished out a team-high 6 assists while scoring 17 points despite being limited to 12 shots from the floor.

Cranage grabbed 11 rebounds and Rosa 9 while finishing 1-2 on the team to lead a 41-38 advantage on the boards.

They shared the steals lead of three while Rosa blocked four shots from his guard position, including closing out to swat away three 3-point attempts.

Their efforts allowed Blue Ridge to avenge its only league loss of the season, 60-58, at Forest City Jan. 17.

“This game, we came prepared,” said Rosa, who was 5-for-10 from the floor, 1-for-2 on 3-pointers and 10-for-13 from the line. “Our team came in and practiced really hard (Thursday) and we went over many sets and many defenses that we knew would work.

“ … We just came in, ran them, listened to our coach and accomplished everything.”

Blue Ridge is 10-1 in the division and 16-3 overall. Forest City came out of the game at 9-1 and 11-8.

The Raiders are at Montrose (5-5, 7-13) Thursday. The Foresters host Montrose Tuesday and play at Elk Lake (5-5, 12-8) Thursday.

The teams traded surges of momentum from the start with Forest City scoring the game’s first seven points and Blue Ridge answering with the next nine. That created the first of 9 lead changes in a game that also featured 10 ties.

James Barbour added 10 points and Dalton Rutter had 9 for Blue Ridge while each grabbed 5 rebounds.

Forest City was led by Max Urbas, who hit four 3-pointers while scoring 17 points, and Dylan Bezek, who finished with 8 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocked shots.

D.J. Heath added 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while Collin Bailer chipped in 10 points. Heath had eight points in the fourth quarter.

The teams were tied at the end of the first and third quarters and were even on the scoreboard for 2:41 of the fourth quarter.

Rosa had eight points during the second quarter when Blue Ridge used a 13-8 advantage to take a 29-24 lead.

“After a missed shot or a made shot, I just get the ball and go,” Rosa said. “We’re a good transitioning team. When we get on a roll, we’re hard to stop.

“We have one of the best shooters in the league; one of the best players in the league and I just feel like we’re an all-around great team.”

Urbas hit two 3-pointers while scoring nine points when Forest City pulled even in the third quarter.

Barbour erased the last Forest City lead by hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 2:32 left for a 55-55 tie.

Rosa made his second attempt 18 seconds later for the lead

Blue Ridge’s last field goal came when Cranage penetrated and set up Barbour for a 51-51 tie with 3:17 left.

The Raiders scored their last 12 points from the line in 16 attempts over the final 2:54.

Rutter went 4-for-4 and Rosa was 4-for-6 in that time.


Friday’s scoreboard: Friday’s basketball scoreboard – NEPA Sports Nation.

Friday’s Bulletin Report: BULLETIN: Lake-Lehman girls, North Pocono boys win titles – NEPA Sports Nation.

Tuesday’s Lackawanna Division 4 roundup: BOYS ROUNDUP: Cranage hits 1,000th career point as junior – NEPA Sports Nation.

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