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Vikings’ boys extend hoops winning streak to six

By Warren Rappleyea

South Brunswick High School’s boys basketball team raised its record to 14-2 with two wins in the last week, and the Vikings have now won six straight games since falling to Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen Jan. 19.

The Vikings are coming off a solid, 56-44 success against Piscataway Township High School Feb. 2 thanks to a monster game from 6-foot-2 guard Eric Savage. The senior poured in a season-high 30 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds to pace his team in both categories.

Savage, who averages more than 19 points to lead the team in scoring, posted 11 points in a see-saw fourth quarter to help South Brunswick stave off a comeback attempt by the Chiefs. Michael Ugarte has a strong game as well, scoring 16 points for the winners, raising his average to about 11 points, which is second on the team.

Two days earlier, South Brunswick defeated Perth Amboy High School, 77-37, as Savage again led the way, this time with 25 points. Sharp-shooting guard Ryan Moran, who leads the Vikings with 26 3-point field goals, contributed nine points. Moran averages six points, as does Danesh Thirukomaran, who has 24 3-pointers to his credit. Jaier Garrett averages eight points for the Vikings.

Both of South Brunswick’s losses have come at the hands of St. Joe’s, which sits atop the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division standings. The Falcons won the season-opener, 58-42, and came from behind to take a much-closer second meeting, 62-51. It is conceivable that the two teams could end up with the top two seeds in the upcoming GMC Tournament, setting up a potential rematch should both squads reach the finals.

For the most part, the Vikings have dominated their other opponents, although it took a 3-point buzzer-beater by Moran to edge East Brunswick High School, 57-56, Jan. 26. The two teams are scheduled to meet again Feb. 11 at East Brunswick. South Brunswick was set to host Central Jersey College Prep Charter School Feb. 8 and will wrap up the regular season Feb. 13 at home against Newark Collegiate Academy.

After dropping nine straight games, North Brunswick Township High School’s boys basketball has won two in a row, including a 67-55 success against Perth Amboy Feb. 6 to raise its record to 5-12. Basit Khan led the Raiders with 24 points and Prenay Bhandare added 17 points as coach Ed Breheney’s team took control with a 20-11, second-quarter run.

On Feb. 3, the Raiders dumped Steinert High School, 82-55, as Khan again connected for 21 points, while Bhandare added a season-high 20 points and Adryan Salazar posted 14 points. Bhandare raised his scoring average to 12.2 points, second behind Francis Omowole, who averages 15.4 points.

Girls basketball

South Brunswick has now won four games in a row after going three-for-three last week.

The Lady Vikings parlayed a 25-point, 17-rebound evening from junior Amber Brown into a 58-47 win against Bishop George Ahr High School Feb. 6. South Brunswick’s 19-7 dominance in the third quarter keyed the victory. Natalia Louhisdon added 15 points, and Alexis Adams scored eight points and hauled in a game-high 12 rebounds.

On Feb. 4, the Lady Vikings were even with Piscataway at the end of three quarters, but a strong fourth-quarter helped them come away with a 62-58 win. Louhisdon paced the offense with 21 points, while Brown scored 15 points and Adams and Gillian Chambres put up nine points each.

South Brunswick also bested Perth Amboy, 57-27, Feb. 2, with Brown scoring 14 points and Samia Baig connecting for 13 points. The Lady Vikings’ balanced attack has been a plus. Brown and Louhisdon, who leads with 17 3-pointers, are first and second in scoring, averaging 14 and 12.5 points, respectively. Chambres, who has connected for 15 treys, averages six points, and Baig and Adams have both contributed more points as the season has progressed.

“Everyone contributes, and different players have had big games when we’ve needed them,” South Brunswick coach Jeff Johnson said. “The girls have played solid team defense, too.”

Johnson’s team opened the campaign with six wins in a row before losing four straight games. South Brunswick has since righted the ship, winning six of its past seven games.

Following its season finale Feb. 11 against East Brunswick, the Lady Vikings will head into the GMC Tournament looking to continue their winning ways.

North Brunswick’s girls basketball team is looking to rebound after two straight losses dropped its record to 6-13. Despite a 12-point showing by leading scorer Alex Walker, the Raiders fell to Metuchen High School, 38-30, Feb. 6. Two days earlier, Monroe Township High School dominated North Brunswick, 62-24. However, on Feb. 2, the Raiders got past New Brunswick High School, 42-31. Walker led the way with 15 points, and Samantha Mehalick added nine points to the winning effort.

“We’re looking for a little more consistency on offense,” coach Shaun Morrell said. “Defensively, we’re usually right in the mix.”

Walker is averaging nearly 11 points and is assuming a leadership role. The junior has scored in double figures 13 times this season, including a 20-point effort in a 34-32 loss to Old Bridge High School earlier in the campaign.

Indoor track and field

On the track, South Brunswick’s boys team tied East Orange Campus High School for third place in the NJSIAA Group IV championships Feb. 4. The Vikings’ distance medley relay foursome of Ryan Budhu, Jose Cella, Jared Fisher and Tyler Sanders finished third, as did the pole vault tandem of Issa Feknous and Martin James. Nic Botett and Ajay Sindhu combined to finish fourth in the shot put.

Earlier this winter, South Brunswick won the GMC Relays for the fifth straight season.

South Brunswick’s Desirae Osley won the 55-meter race with a personal best time of 7.45 and also won the 200-meter event at the Princeton Elite Meet Feb. 3. Osley’s mark of 26.12 in the 200 ranks among the top five girls times in New Jersey this winter, according to Lady Vikings coach Stefan Moorhead.

In addition, Essence Baker won the 400 with an indoor personal best of 60.53. Second-place finishers included Sydney Schneider in the 55 hurdles, Latisha Witherspoon at 400 meters, Daniella Izzo in the pole vault and Miranda Irizarry in the shot put.

South Brunswick’s 4×400 team of Annalyse Varlow, Chantel Osley, Olivia Hutchison and Chloe Hypolite also took a silver medal. Natalie Ginez finished third in the 800-meter race.

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