Push Through: Princeton High School boys’ basketball player Chris Rinaldi dribbles upcourt in his first game of the season. Senior guard Rinaldi scored eight points in the PHS loss to Heightstown last Thursday in his 48-33 loss. The Tigers, currently 0-3, will play the Montgomery High Tournament on December 27 and 29 before playing in Nottingham on January 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechwski)
Chris Rinaldi got off to a good start for the Princeton High Boys basketball team that hosted Heightstown last Thursday with a 3-pointer per minute in the contest to put the Tigers up 3-0.
Senior guard and vice-captain Rinaldi added another 3-pointer in the second quarter to help the PHS take a 16-11 lead at halftime.
“From the beginning I felt my shot,” Rinaldi said of his play on the perimeter. “We felt like we were playing really good defense. We just had to score. That’s what we were going to end up with.”
In the second half, Heightstown advanced to the offensive end and outscored the Tigers 22-8 in the fourth quarter with a 48-33 victory.
Reflecting on PHS’ loss to 3-0, Rinaldi admitted that a cold shot doomed the Tigers’ defeat.
“We flipped it. We weren’t converting on offense, so they got away,” Rinaldi said. “It was pretty good to keep Heightstown down to 11 points in the first half.
Rinaldi, who ended up scoring eight points in the game and tied Jihad Wilders in the PHS game high, is looking to put more balls in the basket this winter.
“I didn’t shoot as much last year, so I’m scoring more,” Rinaldi said. No, but we started the first quarter pretty strong.”
As the team’s point guard, Rinaldi’s dribbling and passing are consistent.
“I feel like my ball handling is a little bit better,” Rinaldi said. “Last year was pretty good – it’s still in the same realm.”
With PHS dropping their first three games of the season, Rinaldi is determined to keep things positive in his role as team captain.
“I went to college in my sophomore year and played a lot last year,” Rinaldi said. I’m just trying to keep everyone’s heads up and keep the good vibes going and try to get some wins this season.
PHS head coach Pat Noone credits Rinaldi with holding things together for the Tigers.
“Chris was great. He’s the captain,” said Norn. “He was an All-CVC Honorable Mention last year. He gets so much flex and has such a good motor. He’s giving everything he’s got.”
Against Heightstown, no one on his team made a good effort on the defensive end.
“The defense was great. We got a lot of turnovers, played hard and had a lot of movement,” said Noone. “They got a little confused. We did what we had to do. There are two future college basketball players out there. [Robert Eaves, Keenan Reiss] It works great for us. “
However, the PHS didn’t do much offensively against the Rams.
“We couldn’t score,” Noone said. “We looked good on defense and a missed shot gave them some breaks and they got some easy putbacks on the offensive rebound. We wanted to keep the lead. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that.”
Junior forward Wilder looked good early on for the Tigers.
“Jihad was great, he had 17 the other night against Ewing [a 58-49 loss on December 20]’ said no one. “We’ve been playing against teams of some size. There’s a kid in Notre Dame who’s 6’8 and tonight there’s a guy named Eaves who’s 6’5 and he’s been hitting some walls. He’s playing great and has a good touch around the basket.”
The trio of junior Dante DiGiulio, senior Ryan Guy and junior Remmick Granozio have also done some great things for PHS.
“Dante played a great game tonight. He had the flu to start the season, so he missed the first week of practice,” Noone said. It’s a great addition for us. Ryan has been a great senior leader for us. Remmick has been good too. He has a good stroke. We’re just waiting for some shots to go down.”
In Noone’s view, the Tigers can break the ice if they can put together a good night of shooting.
“I think it’s a score and it’s about playing at the right time,” said Norn. “We were able to extend our lead to double digits in the first half. I think it was 0-9 at the foul line. It should have been 26, 27-11, we didn’t take advantage of it. But you flipped your opponent over. We have to build a bucket to counter their bucket.”
Attend Montgomery High
After taking part in the tournaments on 27th and 29th December and then playing in Nottingham on 3rd January, Noone believes the competition will help strengthen his side for the challenges ahead.
“They are really good Group 4 schools,” said Noone. That team will face hosts Montgomery and North in that event against Hunterdon. “You have to play against those teams to make a state.”
Rinaldi hopes PHS will continue to play hard.
“I think we could have won today, but we missed it,” said Rinaldi. ‘I need to keep my head up and look for my next match’