Cherry Hill East advances past Eastern with 66-54 win.

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Courtesy of NJ.com

Cherry Hill East's Jake Green ('22) moves the ball during a basketball game between Eastern and Cherry Hill East.

The No. 4 Cougars put on a show against rivals No. 5 Eastern at East on Thursday afternoon. In a game that was as intense as it can get, East was able to pull ahead late with some smooth shooting from the sophomore trio of Jake Green (‘22), Drew Greene (‘22) and E.J. Matthews-Spratley (‘22). The emphatic game ended in a marquee win for a Cougars team who ended the regular season with a 9-9 Olympic Conference record.

The player of the game award was never in question. Jake Green dropped four threes in the first quarter alone, taking any space defenders gave him and making them look silly. The sophomore finished with 28 points on the game, knocking down seven of nine threes and going eight of ten from the field.

The game began with a whirlwind of buckets from the Cougars. After a first half total of 17 last game, East nearly beat that in one quarter. Their shooting form was back as Jake Green had 9 of the 15 points in the quarter and Drew Greene, who finished with seven assists, contributed as well. East also played tight defense to offset Eastern’s favorable size, especially junior Zubair Lee (‘21). The Cougars took a 15-8 lead into the second quarter.

The next quarter followed a similar script. East was able to contain the Vikings, holding them to another eight point quarter, while the Cougars stayed hot from deep. Matthews-Spratley hit a three in the quarter, and solid team defense gave East lots of momentum heading into halftime, up 26-16.

The second half began unusually for East. For a team that has thrived off of late-game momentum, the true spark did not show for East until the fourth quarter. While Jake Green hit a corner three, Eastern was able to gain ground back, cutting the lead to seven as six minutes remained. When the game got tough, though, Drew Greene came alive, finishing off an impressive quarter by dancing around an Eastern defender for a buzzer-beating layup. East led 39-28.

The final frame saw even more buckets. East scored 27, while Eastern scored 28 in the quarter, impressive totals for possession-based teams. Every chance Eastern had to stay in the game was foiled by a blitz of baskets from the Cougars. In a span of thirteen seconds, with about four minutes left on the clock, East managed to score eight straight points- two threes and a layup. Jake Green continued his form with ice-cold shots in the face of defenders, but showed physicality with an and-one basket down low. East took a 52-42 lead with two minutes to play and made it 60-49 with a minute remaining. The quick-scoring Cougars proved to everyone that they are for real with this proud win.

East hopes to build on this playoff run with another home game on Saturday afternoon against No.16 Egg Harbor. Egg Harbor has gone on a miracle run these playoffs, knocking off No. 1 Toms River North before defeating No. 9 Williamstown. The winner of this game advances to the NJSIAA Group 4 South Jersey championship.