The Easton Area High School boys basketball game against rival Phillipsburg was a battle of contrasting tempos.
In the second half, it became apparent that the Red Rovers' defensive pressure and fast-break offense had overwhelmed the Stateliners.
Easton defeated Phillipsburg 78-49 on Monday morning to send their seniors off with a final win at their home gym at Easton Area Middle School.
"That's what I'm most happy about right now, we were able to send our six seniors off on their last game in this court, in this gym not only with a win; but a win against our archrivals from across the river in Phillipsburg," Easton coach Ben Childs. "That's a great way to send them off and hopefully we're not done yet, hopefully, that's not our last win of the year."
It was only fitting that senior point guard As'ad Brown would lead the Rovers with 18 points.
"It felt good, because it's always 'Beat P'burg' here. It feels good right now. We were pressuring them; they couldn't handle the pressure," Brown said. "They started turning the ball over. When they turned the ball over, we just pushed the pace on offense."
Brown, along with back-court partner Derek Jacobs, put their speed on full display in almost every offensive transition.
"That was our game plan. We knew we would have the speed advantage and the athleticism advantage," Childs said. "P'burg does a great job in running half court sets with a lot of screens. We wanted to speed them up offensively with our fast break and defensively with our full court pressure."
Down 15-14 heading to the second quarter, Easton's defense forced four turnovers in the second quarter to limit the Liners to just six points from the field. A drive and layup from Brown in the final minute of the second capped off a 16-5 run for the Rovers, who took a 10-point lead into the break.
Nashawn Johnson set the tone for Easton just 30 seconds into the second half, slamming a dunk off a fast break thanks to a dish from Jacobs. Johnson scored each of the Rover's first six points in the third quarter and finished the game with 12.
"I thought we battled until midway through the third quarter… I think eventually they're pressure just wore us down. I think our legs went; and once that happens it gets really tough," Phillipsburg coach Jerry Lloyd said. "(Easton) is good, they're a very good team. Credit to them, they come at you for 32 minutes."
After senior guard Ryan Boylan converted two foul shots to tally the last of his 12 points and put Easton ahead 66-40, both teams substituted most of their players in the final minutes.
Childs offered a similar assessment to his counterpart following the game.
"P'burg is well-coached, Coach Lloyd is one of my good friends and he does a great job," Childs said. "We knew they were going to play hard; we knew we were going to run their stuff. We just had to wear them down over 32 minutes, which I think we did."
Sophomore guard Josh Borelli knocked down three shots from beyond the arc to pace the Stateliners with 15 points.
Phillipsburg (5-17) has a quick turnaround and hosts Delaware Valley tomorrow night.
Easton will wait until District 11 Class 6A tournament play. The third-seeded Rovers (16-7) face sixth-seeded Parkland at 2:30 p.m. at Allen High School.
"With this win we're going to bring it to Parkland on Saturday," Brown said. "We just have to go all out; play our hardest. We want to have no regrets."