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Hillsborough nips Marlboro in sectional semi MARLBORO The glass slipper was sitting there, waiting to be snatched. After four hair raising quarters, Hillsborough High School's boys basketball team grabbed it before Marlboro by the length of a finger. Senior Rob Askes got a hand on sharpshooter Kenny LaRocca's game tying 3 point attempt with one second left, lifting 13th seeded Hillsborough past ninth seeded Marlboro 55 52 in Saturday's NJSIAA Central Group IV semifinals. "I just didn't want to give him a chance," said Askes, who closed hard on the left wing to nick the jumper. "I saw he wanted the ball and I just followed him . . . It was a great feeling, but we've got one more." The Cinderella Raiders (14 12), who graduated all five starters from last year's Somerset County championship squad, advance to a sectional final for just the second time. They will visit second seeded Freehold Township (22 6) for all the marbles Monday. Marlboro (14 11) was seeking its first sectional final appearance. This was the second ever semifinal for the Mustangs, and their student fans rose to the occasion, packing the gym and rocking it from start to finish. Among the onlookers was former Rutgers basketball star Quincy Douby, whose mentor Jack Ringel has two sons starting for Marlboro. RELATED: Boys Basketball: Details from NJSIAA games on March 7 "It was so rewarding to see everyone come out for these kids," Marlboro coach Mike Nasedas said. They got their money's worth. Both teams played much better than their seeds. Hillsborough led 17 16 after one quarter and 30 28 at the half. The Raiders made their move in the third quarter, opening up a 10 point lead with an 11 3 run. "Their zone was unbelievable," Nasedas said. "We couldn't find a way to get in there. They were everywhere we were." On the other end, Hillsborough's spacing, ball sharing and cuts were textbook. Unselfishness ruled the day as three or more players touched the ball on most possessions. "We've been playing together since middle school," said senior Mike Reilly, who led all scorers with 18 points. "Over the years we've become great friends. You always look out for your teammate on the court." Added senior Joe Suseck, who compiled 17 points and 14 rebounds, "No one was trying to put up numbers. We just wanted to get the win." Marlboro fought back in the fourth quarter. A 7 2 spree, capped by a LaRocca 3 point play, cut the deficit to one at 53 52 with 1:29 remaining. Hillsborough missed four straight free throws the Raiders shot just 4 of 12 from the stripe in the fourth period to leave the door open. The Mustangs had two chances inside the final 10 seconds, but George Elghoul missed an 18 footer and Askes (13 points) came up with the block of LaRocca. Who knows if the shot would have gone in, but LaRocca was rolling he finished with 15 points on four 3 pointers. Elghoul added 14 points and Matt Ringel tallied 10 points and seven rebounds for Marlboro. "This is my third season, and this group has turned the program completely around," Nasedas said. "This is big for us, to get here. We've got four sophomores and four juniors, so the future's good." The future is Monday for Hillsborough. The Raiders' only other sectional final appearance was a 2010 loss to state power Plainfield. Even last year's memorable squad didn't dance this deep into March. Those seniors, however, left a definite impression on Reilly, Suseck and Askes, who contributed off the bench last winter. "They played their hearts out, and we learned something from that, going against that every day," Askes said. "We tried to take that to the court today." "We finally came together as a team, and now we have a chance to play for a sectional title," Hillsborough coach Ian Progin said. "I couldn't ask for anything more.