Monroe caps boys’ basketball season with thrilling effort in defeat


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The Monroe Township High School boys’ basketball team ended its season with a loss, but the players can be proud on how they performed in the end.

Monroe entered the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 tournament as the 16th and final seed in the field. The Falcons had to start on the road against the No. 1 seed, Colts Neck High School.

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Monroe rallied and then forced overtime, but the Falcons were eventually fought off when Colts Neck pulled out a 74-66 decision on Feb. 27.

Senior guard Luke Patel of Monroe seemed to be in the right place at the right time when he gathered in a long rebound and sank a basket from 3-point range at the buzzer to force a 63-63 tie.

“I’ll remember that shot for a long time,” Patel said. “I gave it to my teammate, but he couldn’t make it. I saw the rebound there. I got it, I made sure I was behind the 3-point line and I let it go. It was probably the biggest shot in my career.”

The magic wouldn’t last in the extra session when Colts Neck thwarted the upset bid by Monroe with an 11-3 effort.

The loss left Monroe with a final record of 7-19.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” Patel said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’m speechless. The team brought it in practice every day this week. Throughout the season, we weren’t looking too good, had bad communication and everything. But we played our heart out tonight, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Patel led Monroe against Colts Neck with 19 points.

His backcourt partner, senior Fritz Frage, said the team had to play a different style in that game.

“We knew that this could be our last game, so we wanted to play all out,” Frage said. “Today was the one day that we had to just play and not worry about getting yelled at or anything like that. I know that half the shots that I took today would have probably gotten me benched in the regular season. But I think as a team, we knew we had to come out swinging if we were going to try to win.”

Frage was pleased with Monroe’s performance in the challenging near-upset.

“I’m happy with all my teammates today and the way we played,” he said. “Going against the No. 1 team, everyone thought we were going to be beat by 30. We played hard and got it to overtime. I think if a couple of things would have gone our way, we could have beat them. Another made [three-pointer] here or there or one less turnover or so, and this game could have been ours.”

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