Young Monroe boys’ basketball squad ready to take flight

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Monroe High School boys' basketball forward Josh Okocha surveys the court in the paint during the team's scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Monroe High School boys' basketball guard Andrew Turco drives down the baseline to the hoop during the team's scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12. Turco is the only returning starter for the Falcons this season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Monroe High School boys' basketball player Chris Kobierowski prepares to shoot a free-throw attempt during the team's scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Monroe High School boys' basketball forward Josh Okocha surveys the court in the paint during the team's scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Monroe High School boys' basketball guard Andrew Turco drives down the baseline to the hoop during the team's scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12. Turco is the only returning starter for the Falcons this season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Monroe High School boys' basketball player Chris Kobierowski prepares to shoot a free-throw attempt during the team's scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

It’ll be a new look Monroe Township High School boys’ basketball team this winter.

There will be many fresh new faces filling out the varsity roster for the Falcons.

“It’s a lot of new guys looking for opportunities,” said Monroe coach Jeff Warner. “A lot of learning going on. A lot of guys battling for minutes. It makes every practice and every scrimmage very interesting.”

Monroe comes off a banner 2018-2019 season, when it finished with its first winning record since 2014 by going 17-11 and advanced to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament.

It was the most victories in a single season that the program has had in the last nine years.

The Falcons return one starter from last year’s squad in guard Andrew Turco.

Turco, as many people know around the state, is a sharp shooter from the outside as a three-point specialist.

The senior knocked in 53 three-pointers last season as a junior and finished third on the team in scoring.

Coming back as the only starter from last year, the offense will flow through Turco, according to Monroe’s coach.

“Andrew (Turco) is going to make us go,” Warner said. “He had a big year as a junior. He can really shoot the ball when he gets hot.” 

Filling out the starting spots around Turco will start down in the frontcourt with big man Chris Kobierowski, who is expected to have a big season for the Falcons.

The 6-5 junior has looked great down in the paint during the course of the preseason said Warner.

Fellow classmate Jake Labaska is another player expected to fill big shoes for Monroe this season at the point guard position.

Sophomore Josh Okocha made great strides in the offseason and will provide big minutes as an underclassman in the Monroe frontcourt.

Okocha came up huge for Monroe in its scrimmage against Jackson Memorial High School on Dec. 12 that was held in Jackson.

The sophomore came up with a huge steal and hit two crucial free-throw attempts in the final minute of overtime to help Monroe hang on for a 54-51 victory.

Okocha’s brother Jon, will be a key wing player for Monroe off the bench this winter

Senior Kyle Siegel is another wing player that will provide major minutes off the bench this season for Monroe with his ability to shoot the ball well from the outside.

Brady Lane is another senior player for Monroe that is working hard to provide valuable minutes off the bench.

“We’re going to look to fight every single night,” Warner said. “No win is going to be an easy one. We’re going to learn as we go. There are going to be some bumps in the road. How we bounce back from those will determine how our season goes.”

The biggest key for Monroe over the course of the season is for its younger players to gain experience. 

However, that will not take away from the goal the team has of trying to continue its winning ways from last season said Warner.

Monroe is focused on getting better in each practice and every scrimmage before the Falcons travel to play Greater Middlesex Conference foe East Brunswick High School in its season opener on Dec. 19.

“We’re not going to be perfect by any means,” Warner said. “We’re going to learn as we go and hopefully it will help us have a decent regular season.”

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports