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By Patrick Roach
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – The Thursday night showdown between the Camden County College Cougars and the Montgomery County Mustangs began like any other typical collegiate basketball game. The Cougars won the tip-off and quickly moved down court, dishing the ball to Freshman Guard Tyaire Hudson, who scored two points on their opening possession, drawing an emphatic cheer from the crowd and getting off to a positive start as the first seconds ticked off the clock. On this night, however, there was not a single lead change from start to finish, and trailing 2-0 was the closest the Mustangs would come to matching the Cougars’ score in a lopsided 85-56 contest.

Number 33 James Cooper takes a foul shot during the final minutes of regulation in the Cougars' victory over Montgomery at Papiano Gym at CCC Blackwood. By Patrick Roach, CCC Journalism Program

Number 33 James Cooper takes a foul shot during the final minutes of regulation in the Cougars’ victory over Montgomery at Papiano Gym at CCC Blackwood. By Patrick Roach, CCC Journalism Program

The Cougars’ offense led a balanced attack throughout the night, judiciously spreading the ball to the team’s playmakers, resulting in double-digit points for Forward Nick Moore and Guards Hudson, La’Quan Coaxum and Nate Boyd. Center Steve Wade said this is a common theme for the Cougars. “We like to spread the ball around so that we never have to rely on just one person to put points on the board for us,” said Wade.

The victory was a team effort, made possible by an excellent defensive performance and dominant physical presence on both sides of the ball.

The night’s leading scorer, Moore (18 points), exemplified the brand of physicality that was on display during the Cougars’ rout of the Mustangs, tightly contesting rebounds and showcasing elite athleticism and explosiveness on several powerful dunks. One such throw-down sent a wave of electricity through the crowd and helped to propel the Cougars to a 21-point lead, in turn eliciting a frustrated response from Mustangs coach Denny Surovec. Soon after, Surovec exploded with anger over a foul call directing his frustration at an official.

Despite Moore’s highly impressive offensive display, second-year player Wade made it clear the defense was king on Thursday night.

“The key factor in our win was definitely defense,” said Wade. “Montgomery is known for always playing hard no matter how far they get down, so we could never stop playing hard or take it easy for one play.”

There wasn’t much to complain about in Papiano Gym if you were a Cougars’ fan, and the atmosphere could not have been more inviting. Friends and family exchanged hugs and pleasantries and constantly commended Cougars players. CCC even distributed free T-shirts to a few lucky fans. “I really wanted a T-shirt,” first-year student Nina Fonte said with a laugh. “But I’m still glad I came. It was a lot of fun.”

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