The calendar has turned to February as the winter scholastic season keeps moving forward.
Local athletes continue to excel while they keep an eye on county and state tournaments that are approaching.
Standouts were abundant on the boys’ basketball courts …
Rob Higgins experienced a week that saw him spark Middletown High School North to a pair of victories, including an explosive effort to defeat Middletown High School South.
Higgins poured in 41 points Feb. 2 when he guided Middletown North past Middletown South, 77-54. Two days earlier, Higgins hit for 17 points in a 67-58 triumph over Long Branch High School.
Keyport High School called on its solid one-two scoring punch of Chris Hogrefe and Brendan O’Brien to knock out Keansburg High School, 72-62, Jan. 31. Hogrefe clicked on 23 points, including baskets from 3-point range, and O’Brien followed with 22 points to pace the Red Raiders.
Teammates also contributed Jan. 31 to Middletown South’s triumph over Manasquan High School. Dave Gervase fired in 22 points and Ryan Purcell scored 20 points, as they sparked Middletown South’s 67-50 victory.
Another scoring duo, Dante Ralph and Joe Simpson, produced the points for East Brunswick High School Jan. 30. Ralph dropped in 20 points and Simpson registered 20 points when the Bears defeated South River High School, 65-47.
Keshaun Henry delivered twice when he guided Woodbridge High School to a couple of victories last week. On Jan. 30, Henry scored 19 points when Woodbridge defeated Carteret High School, 65-57. One day later, he scored 12 points while teammate Harry Rutkowski hit for 21 points in Woodbridge’s 83-59 triumph over South Plainfield High School.
Michael Ugarte connected on 27 points when he sparked South Brunswick High School’s 65-45 victory over North Bergen High School. Two days later, Ugarte sank 18 points and his teammate, Greg Lee, scored 24 in a 60-51 victory over East Brunswick.
Christian Wantong erupted for 25 points when he led Edison High School past Monroe Township High School, 57-51.
Freehold Township High School continues to roll behind the exploits of Steve Staklinski. He fired in 23 points to lead the Patriots to a 58-49 triumph against Howell High School Feb. 2. Three days earlier, he scored 16 in Freehold Township’s 73-51 victory over Colts Neck High School.
Danny Flaherty pumped in 21 points when he steered Metuchen High School past the Central Jersey College Charter School, 76-32.
Maneet Batra registered 21 points when he guided North Brunswick Township High School past Edison, 60-57.
Mike Dunne finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Matawan Regional High School to a 51-40 verdict over Saint John Vianney High School. Zack Moran collected 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists when he anchored the Lancers’ 74-56 victory over Shore Regional High School.
Zack Mojica sank 19 points when he led Raritan High School to a 65-55 victory over Matawan. Matawan’s Reggie Tawiah scored 25 points in the defeat.
Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen has been on fire this winter thanks to the overall play of Malachi Walker. He produced a triple-double when he recorded 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots in the Falcons’ 68-49 victory over Perth Amboy High School.
Girls’ basketball also produced some sparkling performances …
Brynn Farrell has been a scoring machine all winter for Metuchen. Perth Amboy joined a list of numerous other schools this season that could not thwart the exploits of Farrell, who exploded for 30 points to guide Metuchen to a 52-27 victory Jan. 30. Farrell also received some scoring assistance from her teammate, Jamyra Maye, who registered 22 points and 12 rebounds in that victory.
Farrell was at it again Feb. 1, when she poured in 27 points and took down 12 rebounds to steer the Bulldogs past Carteret, 31-28.
Samira Sargent of Edison has been another offensive force this winter. Sargent continued her scoring pace when she torched John F. Kennedy Memorial High School of Iselin with 25 points in Edison’s 62-13 decision. Two days later on Feb. 2, Sargent connected on 21 points and her teammate, Madison Ruddy, scored 27, in the Eagles’ 71-43 decision against Perth Amboy.
Alexandra Balsamo of Middletown South enjoyed a special night Feb. 2, when she eclipsed 1,000 points for her career and sealed her team’s 61-58 victory over rival Middletown North when she sank a 3-point basket with 0.2 seconds to play.
Amber Brown dominated Feb. 2 when she ended with 29 points and 12 rebounds to power South Brunswick past East Brunswick, 50-49.
Sayreville War Memorial High School delivered a knockout to Bishop George Ahr High School behind the Bombers’ one-two punch of Isi Enahoro and Morenlike Akinrefon. Enahoro finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Akinrefon collected 17 points and 11 boards in Sayreville’s 60-52 victory in a key Greater Middlesex Conference showdown.
Amanda Carney sank 22 points and Rachel Kuhl chipped in with 19 points when they led Old Bridge High School past John P. Stevens High School, 56-42.
Molly Weiss knocked in 22 points when she led Marlboro High School to a 47-34 triumph over Freehold High School.
Tori Hyduke hit for 20 points when she led Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School to a 45-29 victory over Red Bank Regional High School.
Gianna Piccini connected on 16 points when she carried Keyport to a 47-23 triumph over Keansburg.
Tara Beachem sank 17 points when she led South River to a 55-50 triumph over Dunellen High School.
Priya Golding finished with 17 points when she guided the Wardlaw-Hartridge School past Middlesex County Vocational Technical High School at Perth Amboy, 49-43.
Cynthia Williams ended with 15 points when she paced North Brunswick’s 48-42 victory over South Plainfield.
Erin Malin recorded 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots to secure Spotswood High School’s 53-42 victory over Middlesex High School.
Hats off to reaching 100 victories on the wrestling mat goes to …
Howell junior Kyle Slendorn achieved 100 career wins when he scored a fall in 39 seconds at 132 pounds during the Rebels’ 57-16 victory over Hackettstown High School Feb. 4.
Slendorn, who has twice qualified for the state tournament, improved to 101-12 for his career and 27-1 this winter when he secured another fall at 132 later that day in Howell’s 59-13 decision over Montgomery High School.