Coming into the 2015-2016 season, the Pirates were preparing to rebound from an 11-15 year as the coaching staff preached trust from day. The trust the players built in each other resulted in a 19-8 overall record, finishing second in the Freedom (6-2) and making a trip to the SJ2 quarterfinals all while going undefeated at home.
“Starting 7-0 without Will Cabbler, who had to sit for 30 days because of the NJSIAA transfer rule, set the tone for the season that we are not a team to look past,” head coach Mike Fries said.
“More importantly, a few of those games came down to the final minutes and being able to pull out the win gave us a lot of confidence.”
The first loss of the season for Cinnaminson came on the road against Freedom rival Bordentown, which turned out to be a character-building game.
The Pirates took what they learned from their first meeting with Bordentown and used it to hand the Scotties just their second loss of the season weeks later in Cinnaminson.
“Being the only team in Burlington County to beat Bordentown, who at the time was 18-1, was our signature win,” Fries said. “We were down early on by double digits. The team fought back, never gave up, and showed that we can beat anyone.”
The win over Bordentown has been labeled as the program’s signature win of the season, but you cannot overlook the 52-51 win at the buzzer over Group 4 Montgomery or the 69-66 win over Group 4 Rancocas Valley to end the regular season schedule.
“Sweeping a very talented & well coached Delran team this season and beating Group 4 RVRHS & Montgomery were great wins,” Fries said.
When the dust settled, the Pirates finished the year 6-2 in the Freedom, good for one game out of first place behind Bordentown in what could be one of the most difficult divisions in Burlington County.
“Having Bordentown – who won Central Jersey Group II, Delran who won 18 games, Burlington City who has Paul Collins and who we split with this season is a tough division,” Fries said. “We had to bring our ‘A’ game every division game night, otherwise it was going to be a long night.”
The program graduates seven players this year and Fries is happy with the legacy they are leaving behind for the younger players.
“I believe the seniors left a huge imprint for the underclassmen. They showed them that you have to come to practice mentally and physically prepared to go all out for 2 hours. They showed them that they have to trust each other, play team ball, and pick each other up when someone isn’t playing well. They definitely showed them that if you work hard at practice and stay focused, great things will happen on game night.”
With their 19 wins, the Pirates secured the five-seed in the South, Group 2 playoffs. Cinnaminson hosted Cedar Creek in the opening round, securing a 55-45 victory to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Pirates season came to an end at the hands of Woodstown, 51-48, in what was quite an entertaining game. The Pirates led 20-10 after one and 39-35 after three.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way,” Fries said of the Woodstown loss. “You learn from your mistakes and miscues. When next year comes, we know we need to take care of business early on so we can get more than one home playoff game.
Fries was impressed with how every player improved from the first day of practice to the final game against Woodstown, but was especially pleased with Devon Taylor’s improvement from his junior year to now.
“The jump he made from junior year to his senior years was outstanding from his ball handling, confidence, moves to the rim, rebounding, wanting the ball in his hands, and more just made us the team we were this year.”
Fries offered some final thoughts on such a successful season:
“I would like to thank the seniors: Will Cabbler, Tim Young, Jr, Sean Christian, Pat McCarthy, Rich Rickus, Devon Taylor, & Kyle Roberts-DeLoach for all of their hard work and showing the underclassmen how to be successful. I would also like to thank the parents and fans for their amazing support this season. We are looking forward to playing in the new gymnasium, however the old gym with its home court advantage will truly be missed, especially after going undefeated at home.”
Check Cinn City Sports tomorrow for the Top 5 Boy’s Basketball Games of 2015-2016.
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