Lady Vikings vie for sectional hoops championship

By Warren Rappleyea

South Brunswick

After a pair of clutch victories in both the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV semifinals and quarterfinals, South Brunswick High School’s girls’ basketball team was set to meet Sayreville War Memorial High School March 6 in the sectional finale.

The top-seeded Bombers (27-2) downed the Lady Vikings in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament championship after having previously upended South Brunswick during the regular season.

Coach Jeff Johnson’s second-seeded girls earned a trip to the finals with an exciting 48-45 success over third-seeded Middletown High School South in a semifinals matchup March 3. The visiting Eagles managed to shut down high-scoring Amber Brown in the first half, but the Lady Vikings came on strong after intermission, with Brown scoring 14 points.

Alexis Adams had a strong night as well, pumping in 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Freshman standout Onoseta Ufuah added 11 points to go with six rebounds, as the Lady Vikings improved to 24-4.

South Brunswick passed a tough test in the quarterfinals when it squeezed by 10th-seeded Marlboro, 45-42. The upset-minded Mustangs entered the fourth quarter with a 33-32 lead, but the Lady Vikings took control over the final eight minutes. Brown, who averages 19.5 points, scored 21 points and hauled in six rebounds to lead the way. Alexis Royal added 10 points, while Adams contributed seven points and eight rebounds.

Johnson’s girls had a relatively easy time in the opening round, besting 15th-seeded Princeton High School, 56-25, in the opening round. Brown posted 21 points and grabbed eight caroms, while Leeannah Hunter added eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

South Brunswick’s boys, meanwhile, ended the season with a 21-5 record after falling to 14th-seeded East Brunswick High School in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group IV tournament Feb. 27. The second-seeded Vikings suffered through a cold first half, mustering just 15 points, and the deficit proved too much.

Michael Ugarte and Ryan Moran had 10 points apiece for the third-seeded Vikings. South Brunswick had previously lost a 69-65 heartbreaker in overtime to Sayreville in the semifinals of the GMC Tournament despite a season-high 33 points from Ugarte.

North Brunswick

Neighboring North Brunswick Township High School’s boys’ team ended its season with a 63-47 loss to Old Bridge High School in the opening round of Central Jersey, Group IV play Feb. 27. The Knights parlayed a 17-8 run in the third quarter into the win. Junior Maneet Batra led the 11th-seeded Raiders with 11 points, while Adryan Salazar contributed 10 points.

The Raiders were upset in the GMC play-in round by Monroe Township High School, 64-52, despite 19 points from Salazar. Junior Avery Claggett led North Brunswick to a 74-52 win Feb. 23 in a tune-up for the state sectional.

The following day Salazar’s 14 points helped the Raiders outscore Summit High School, 62-51. With Claggett, Batra and fellow junior Jordan Salisbury all coming back, the future looks good on Raider Road.

The future also looks solid for North Brunswick’s girls’ basketball team. The Raiders went 10-16, including a first-round loss in Central Jersey, Group IV to Hunterdon Central Regional High School. Junior Khayla Flemmings, who averaged just under 10 points, leads a solid group of returnees. Junior Amaya Caraballo; sophomores Tara Jennings, Kelsi Moody and Kayla Scher; and 6-foot-1 freshman forward Cynthia Williams, who averaged 12.3 points, are back as well.