By Jimmy Allinder
The East Brunswick High School boys team is 10-7 following a 59-53 victory over Old Bridge High School Feb. 4 — a victory that improves the Bears’ chances of receiving a high seed in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament.
East Brunswick faces a tough assignment when it hosts South Brunswick High School (14-2) Feb. 11, and another win could further enhance the Bears’ seed. The conference tournament committee meets Feb. 12 and preliminary-round games begin the following day. If the Bears end the regular season without a loss, they would finish with only three defeats in the highly competitive GMC Red Division.
“We’re competing at a high level now, but foul trouble has been a problem in the past and that’s something we have to avoid,” head coach Mark Motusesky said. “If we can keep our starters on the floor, I like our chances against anybody.”
East Brunswick has been led by senior Matt Ross, who has averaged 14 points per game. Senior center Addis Ralph has contributed 12.6 points per game, while senior guard Mike Vick has averaged 8.5 points.
Senior Mike Briuela played junior varsity last year but has elevated his game this season and has been a valuable player throughout the campaign.
“Our approach at this point of the season is the same as it’s always been, and that’s to practice at a high level, scout and review our [future] opponents and schedule opponents that will challenge us mentally and physically so we’ll be ready for the GMC and state tournaments,” Motusesky said.
In the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV rankings, East Brunswick possesses the sixth most power points.
Following an upset to Highland Park High School (4-15 overall, 3-12 division) Feb. 5, the South River High School’s boys (14-6 overall, 11-4 division) rebounded with a 51-39 win against Dunellen High School Feb. 8. The Rams remain behind Perth Amboy Vocational Technical High School and East Brunswick Vocational Technical High School in the Gold Division standings.
South River visits East Brunswick Vo-Tech Feb. 10 and hope to rebound before the start of the GMC Tournament. The Rams are the second-ranked team in the Central Jersey Group I tournament, which should give them home-court advantage up to the finals as long as they continue to win.
Spotswood High School’s boys team (17-3 overall, 7-2 division) seemed to be cruising along and had already clinched a tie for the GMC Blue Division crown. Then the Chargers ran into a hot John F. Kennedy Memorial High School (6-10 overall, 5-2 division) and dropped their first division game of the season to the Mustangs, 70-65, Jan. 29 in what might be characterized as an upset.
However, Spotswood head coach Steve Mate didn’t think so.
“I said it before the season, Kennedy is a good club, and we had matchup problems with [them],” Mate said. “Hopefully, we learned some things about the loss that will help us moving forward.”
The lesson Spotswood learned is that teams with height will try to take advantage of the undersized Chargers. It will be an issue if Spotswood moves through the GMC and Central Jersey Group II tournament brackets as the competition gets better.
“We plan to counter teams with height by our defensive pressure,” Mate said. “We can’t let taller teams get their way, especially on the boards.”
The Chargers dropped their second division game Feb. 8 to Bishop George Ahr High School but still hope to clinch the division with a victory against Metuchen High School Feb. 11.