Zack Davis, Peddie boys basketball outlast Pennington in local prep Clash – Trentonian

PENNINGTON — The goal for The Peddie School’s boys basketball team throughout the season is to play a challenging schedule and tight games in order to be as prepared as possible for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League Tournament and the Prep A Tournament.

Winning games such as Wednesday’s thriller at Pennington thrusts the Falcons in that direction.

Peddie went on the road and outlasted local Rival Pennington, 84-79, in a game with 10 lead changes and where both teams led by double digits at various points.

Junior Zack Davis paced Peddie (7-11) with 28 points including five of the team’s 11 3-pointers. Senior Raja Coleman scored all 18 of his points in the second half, while junior Noah Payne dropped 15 points and senior Nyle Coleman added 13 points.

“We want to run our offense, we just want to get better and we want to be our best version of ourselves by the time the MAPL Tournament comes around, the state tournament and all that,” Davis said.

Peddie jumped out to a 28-18 lead midway through the first half. The defense was clicking, Davis was controlling the paint and hitting outside shots, and Payne and Nyle Coleman were leading the Perimeter and pushing the tempo on fastbreaks.

But Pennington (9-13) scored 20 of the final 27 points before Halftime and then opened the second half with a 10-2 run that made it 48-37, forcing Peddie to call timeout with 15:32 remaining.

Davis admitted that fatigue set in because Peddie doesn’t have a deep bench, but the Falcons knew they had to push through what was a Quintessential game of runs.

“I was nervous a little bit because we did go down a little bit, but I always knew we just needed to keep our composure,” Davis said. “We have the guys. I feel we’re better than them … we needed to get stops and we got stops toward the end, and we needed to make free throws, and we made free throws.”

Corey Miller netted a career-high 36 points for Pennington, and the postgrad went toe to toe down the stretch with Raja Coleman as they combined for 90 second-half points.

After Cai Romaine buried two straight 3s to tie the game at 53 with 10:50 left, it was Mostly Miller and Raja Coleman exchanging baskets until a 71-71 tie with five minutes remaining.

“I’ve played with Raja and Nyle in AAU and practice — they can get hot,” Davis said. “I’ve seen Raja make like 20 Threes in a row. If they’re not going, then they will step up. I know them. I have full confidence in everyone on this team to step up, especially those three: Nyle, Raja and Noah. They’re ballers. They’ll step up for us at any point.”

Peddie ultimately got a few more stops than Pennington, and Davis helped ice the game with four clutch free throws in the final two minutes.

Davis, a small forward who is playing with the Coleman Brothers on Jersey Force in summer AAU ball, is aspiring to play Division I basketball. He stands about 6-foot-6 and sports an impressive outside shot to complement his range and ball-handing skills.

“That’s the one thing that my dad always told me I need to work on. Everyone at the D1 level is my height. You have to be able to shoot, especially in today’s game,” said Davis, a Manahawkin native. “I worked on my shot, and I feel like that’s the main part of my game now. I’ve worked on it a lot, and that’s my main thing I work on in the summer. That’s why I get in the gym. I shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. It’s all about the repetition. I fixed my form, I did everything and now the results are showing.”

Peddie has won four straight games against Pennington and nine of the last 10 meetings since 2013.

Throughout the year, the Falcons have improved with tough opponents from other states including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois. Peddie next has a MAPL home game against Mercersburg Academy on Saturday and then will travel to face Roselle Catholic next Tuesday.

Roselle features Duke commit Mackenzie Mgbako (a McDonald’s All-American) and North Carolina commit Simeon Wilcher — the type of competition that Davis and his teammates relish before the postseason tournaments in February.

“These kids are on all the ESPN rankings, all the stuff like that, so that’s a fun game,” Davis said. “You don’t really get to play those at any other place, and it’s all going to be a learning experience. We’re going out there to win, but we’re going out there to see what it’s like to play against the best. We want to play against the best. You don’t want to play competition that isn’t the best. You want to play the best. You don’t play to not be the best, you play to be the best.”

PEDDIE (84)

Davis 9-5-28, Payne 5-5-15, N. Coleman 6-2-15, Kowal 1-0-3, Romaine 2-0-6, R. Coleman 5-5-17

Totals — 28-17-84.

PENNINGTON (79)

C. Miller 15-5-36, Russell 6-3-16, Kilic 4-0-11, M. Miller 1-0-2, Napoleon 3-0-6, Snead 3-2-8.

Totals — 32-10-79.

Peddie (7-11) 35 49 — 84

Pennington (9-13) 38 41 — 79

3-point goals: Davis 5, Romaine 2, R. Coleman 2, N. Coleman, Kowal (Peddie), Kilic 3, C. Miller, Russell (Pennington).

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