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February 7, 2003

Villanueva Sparkles In Win

Blair Academy opened up a nine point half-time lead and coasted to a 67-53 victory over Paterson Catholic H.S. on Thursday night at the Prime Time Shootout.

With the game knotted at 16 early in the second quarter, Blair closed the first half with an 18-9 surge to take a 34-25 lead into the break. With the Cougars' Darryl Watkins saddled with a pair of early fouls, the Bucs attacked the basket with success during the run.

Blair came out strong in the second half, building the lead to 55-38 early in the fourth quarter thanks to Illinois-bound Charlie Villanueva (right) and a balanced overall attack. Villanueva finished with 20 points and seven rebounds and was the game MVP.

"I thought Charlie played one of his best floor games of the year," Blair Head Coach Joe Mantegna said. "He got us 20, but he got them in a real smart, under control way, and he also did a great job on the defensive glass and controlled the paint."

Siena bound combo/shooting guard Mike Beers did a very capable job and was a key factor in the game for Blair, collecting eight points and 10 assists. Luol Deng, Blair's outstanding 6-7 senior swingman headed to Duke next fall, was held to 14 points and six rebounds.

"He was actually pretty flat today, and we beat a good team with him playing not as well as he normally does," Mantegna said. "That makes you feel good when you win it."

Watkins led PC with 17 points, while Rutgers signee Marquis Webb struggled and tallied 10 points. Swingman Victor Cruz kept the Cougars afloat at times thanks to his 11 point output.

Both teams will play again on Sunday at the Prime Time, with Paterson Catholic going head to head with Oak Hill Academy and Blair facing Mt. Zion Christian Academy.



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