Essex tops ALJ in Area 4 opener

LINDEN — John Essex took control early and scarcely looked back en route to a 67-49 win over A.L. Johnson Tuesday night in the play-in game of the Class 1A, Area 4 tournament.

The Hornets opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter and carried it for much of the game’s opening half before a ALJ mounted a small run that cut the deficit to six before halftime.

ALJ, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, managed to get as close as five in the second half before the Hornets turned up the pressure and put the game out of reach with a 14-6 run in the fourth quarter.

All five starters scored in double digits for the Hornets as Michael Moore led the way with 18 points and five rebounds. Cedric Cooks added 16 points and six assists. Anthony McIntosh had 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Joshua Moore finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds while Jaylon Worthy had 10 points for the Hornets.

Ladarrious Carr paced A.L. Johnson with 15 points while Walter Hinton added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Castillo Huggins finished his season with eight points and 11 rebounds.

The Hornets, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, advance to face top-seeded host Linden Friday night in first round action.