Bears ready for challenge of Red Division basketball

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By Jimmy Allinder

The Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division is home to some of the best boys’ basketball teams in Middlesex County, including perennial state power Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen.

Despite this formidable competition, East Brunswick High School has fared well under head coach Mark Motusesky, whose record in his first three years at the helm is 53-23. The Bears have won playing stingy defense, displaying fierce toughness and relying on close communication to execute their game plan.

Even with the departure of seven seniors — including the three top scorers, Mike Vick (12 points per game (ppg)), Matt Ross (18 ppg) and Addis Ralph (14 ppg) — East Brunswick will still be a team to reckon with as it always is.

“Regardless of the competition, we look forward to competing against the best teams in the conference,” said Motusesky, who was an assistant coach for 17 seasons under Bo Henning before taking over for the retired coach.

With preseason about to transition to games that count in the standings, Motusesky likes what he’s seen from the returning players and newcomers looking to break into the rotation.

The starting lineup includes returning players Jesse Perel, a junior point guard; Joe Sampson, a junior shooting guard who knocked down 40 3-pointers last year; Dante Ralph, a senior center; and Ezra Levitt, a senior swingman. Joining them is senior power forward Gil Wyman.

The newcomers are senior Tom Connolly; juniors Eric Schneider, Ryan Crocco, Brandon Rosenthal, Mitchell Pingoy and David Bermudez; and sophomore Xavier Fitzgerald.

“Much of our success has been keyed by defensive intensity, and that element gives us the best opportunity to be successful in this division,” Motusesky said. “The objective is to keep improving so that we’re playing our best basketball come tournament time.”

East Brunswick will get a good litmus test as to how prepared it is for the rigors of Red Division basketball when it visits St. Joe’s in the season opener Dec. 16. That game will be followed by a visit Dec. 23 to face another division foe, J.P. Stevens High School.

As they have in recent years, the Bears will participate in the Brunswick Classic at South Brunswick High School during the holiday break. East Brunswick will join the host team, North Brunswick Township High School and New Brunswick High School and will play its first game against one of those opponents (still to be determined) Dec. 27. The losers and winners meet in the consolation and championship games two nights later.

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