HomeNews TranscriptNews Transcript SportsZucker hopeful to return to court soon for Manalapan

Zucker hopeful to return to court soon for Manalapan

By Jeff Appelblatt

When Manalapan High School prepared to start the boys’ basketball season, coach Rick Garretson knew his team was going to rely heavily on junior Matan Zucker. That proved to be true in the first game of the season.

Zucker drained a team-high 23 points Dec. 16 against Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). But when his teammates combined for only another 10, the Braves were outscored, 62-33.

Zucker planned to step things up in the team’s game at Freehold High School Dec. 20. Halfway through the second quarter, when the junior had already poured in 24 points, he took a hit he couldn’t have imagined.

“He went on a fast break, got fouled and came down funny on his ankle,” Garretson said.

“I was playing good against [Freehold] Borough,” Zucker remembered well more than two weeks after the incident. “I got hurt in the second quarter. I never got injured before. I never had to sit out and watch. It’s definitely tough. When you’re playing good and you get hurt, it’s even worse.”

The Braves went on to lose that game to the Colonials, 61-46.

Manalapan proceeded to lose two more games — each without Zucker on the court. Seeing his team lose most of its games without him able to do anything has been difficult.

“It’s tough to watch,” Zucker said. “But I don’t want to push anything and get hurt even more. I just got to listen to the trainer, do all the exercises and hopefully get back out there quick.”

The Braves managed a few wins without their star, the first coming Dec. 28 at Edison High School and the second in Manalapan Jan. 3 against Toms River High School South. But Garretson hopes to see Zucker on the court as soon as possible.

“Hopefully, we get him back soon. He gives us more size. He’s our biggest presence on the court,” the coach said. “He gives us scoring. He can shoot. He can drive. He’s a tough matchup.”

Zucker saw his doctor Jan. 5, which was the same day the Braves lost to one of their top rivals from Marlboro High School, but he and his coach were still waiting 24 hours later for a projected return to the court.

“I definitely think I could be back within a week,” Zucker said at practice Jan. 6. “My teammates look for me to score. It takes team defense, and [we] just got to get out and have energy. I like to bring a lot of energy. But if I’m not on the court, it stinks.”

Zucker doesn’t want to be stuck on the sideline that much longer, as he’s been on the basketball court a long time.

“I played basketball my whole life,” the junior said. “I played three sports when I was younger, but by the time I got to eighth grade, I just started sticking to basketball.”

The Braves are scheduled to host Neptune High School Jan. 10.

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