Raiders on course for first winning season in six years

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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Jabri Fitzpatrick surveys the court during the team's game against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28. Fitzpatrick is averaging a team-high 16.6 points a contest this season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Corey Smith dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28. Smith scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to help North Brunswick defeat JFK Iselin, 51-48. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Christian Salazar drives past John F. Kennedy Memorial's Vishal Patel down the baseline during a game played on Jan. 28. The Raiders defeated the Mustangs, 51-48, to improve to 10-4 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Jaiquil Boyd dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Jabri Fitzpatrick surveys the court during the team's game against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28. Fitzpatrick is averaging a team-high 16.6 points a contest this season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Corey Smith dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28. Smith scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to help North Brunswick defeat JFK Iselin, 51-48. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Christian Salazar drives past John F. Kennedy Memorial's Vishal Patel down the baseline during a game played on Jan. 28. The Raiders defeated the Mustangs, 51-48, to improve to 10-4 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School boys' basketball player Jaiquil Boyd dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

There are great things brewing on the court in North Brunswick Township High School.

The school’s boys’ basketball team is off to a great 10-4 start to the winter and are rolling towards the program’s first winning season since the 2013-2014 campaign.

“Our mantra all year has been sharing the basketball and playing great defense,” said North Brunswick coach Ed Breheney. “Our bench has contributed more and more as the season has gone on and that’s what you need. If we can get all our guys firing, we’ll be in good shape.”

North Brunswick is led by its three headed monster of senior Corey Smith and juniors Jabri Fitzpatrick and Donovan Crawford.

Fitzpatrick leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.6 points a contest during his terrific junior campaign.

The junior put on a show during the team’s 77-47 victory over Sayreville on Jan. 25, recording a career-high 30 points to help North Brunswick win its ninth game of the season.

To help the Raiders extend their winning streak to three-straight games against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School on Jan. 28, Fitzpatrick was a human highlight reel in the second half.

Fitzpatrick knocked home 10 of his team-high 25 points in the third quarter, and electrified the crowd in the final two minutes of the contest with his two-handed slam dunk that gave the Raiders a 46-45 lead.

“I’m just trying to help my team win in any way possible,” Fitzpatrick said. “Whether that comes from assists, steals, rebounds, blocks, it doesn’t matter. We just have to come together as a team as we always do and we can do some big things this year.”

Moments later with the game tied, 46-46, Smith came up clutch for the Raiders by banging home his second three-pointer of the night to put North Brunswick up three.

The senior came up clutch again with 51 seconds to play, knocking home both free-throw attempts at the strike to extend the North Brunswick lead to 51-46.

Smith scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to help North Brunswick edge out JFK Memorial for a 51-48 victory.

“It felt good to see everything come together when it mattered the most,” Smith said. “I’ve done it before and I plan to do it again.”

Smith tied a school record with six three-pointers made in the team’s victory over Sayreville. North Brunswick racked up a total school record of 12 three-pointers in the contest.

In total, Smith has knocked down 24 shots from downtown so far this winter and is averaging 14.7 points a contest this season. Fitzpatrick leads the team in three-pointers with 25 shots made from behind the arc.

Down in the frontcourt, Crawford is averaging 13.1 points a game this season for the Raiders.

Senior Ihsann Whitehurst, sophomore Marquis Perry, and juniors Christian Salazar and Jaiquil Boyd have all provided solid contributions to the team’s success this season.

A huge key to North Brunswick’s success this season has been its defense.

The Raiders are holding their opponents to just under 50 points a contest. During its three-game winning streak, North Brunswick has held each opponent to under 50 points and are 7-0 this winter when they allow less than 50 points in a game.

Winners of five of their last six games heading into their matchup against New Brunswick on Jan. 30, the Raiders feel good about where they’re at this season and believe there are more great things to come this winter.

North Brunswick sees its next three contests against winning teams in New Brunswick, Edison and Carteret as statement games to show how good of a team they are in the Greater Middlesex Conference.

“This season is a major improvement from last year,” Smith said. “We expected this, but a lot of people doubted us, so it feels good to come out and show them how good we are. I believe we can win the conference this season.”

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports.