Underclassmen surging North Brunswick up in the GMC

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North Brunswick Township High School girls' basketball player Zaniyah Boykins drives to the hoop during the team's game against Colonia High School on Feb. 11. North Brunswick is 13-7 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township girls' basketball player Megan Farrell dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against Colonia High School on Feb. 11. North Brunswick defeated Colonia, 45-29.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School girls' basketball player Ava Gianni knocks down a free-throw attempt during the team's game against Colonia High School on Feb. 11.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School girls' basketball player Zaniyah Boykins drives to the hoop during the team's game against Colonia High School on Feb. 11. North Brunswick is 13-7 on the season.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township girls' basketball player Megan Farrell dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against Colonia High School on Feb. 11. North Brunswick defeated Colonia, 45-29.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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North Brunswick Township High School girls' basketball player Ava Gianni knocks down a free-throw attempt during the team's game against Colonia High School on Feb. 11.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The North Brunswick Township High School girls’ basketball team has caught the eye of the Greater Middlesex Conference this season with its strong play.

The Raiders roared to a 45-29 victory over Colonia High School on Feb. 11, a victory that improved their record on the season to 13-7. The team is in a position where many people around the conference did not expect from the Raiders coming into the winter.

Now, with being the host to a conference preliminary round game to start the GMC tournament, North Brunswick has put themselves into a spot to make a successful run in the tournament.

“I don’t think many people would think we would have 13 wins at this point in this season,” said North Brunswick coach Mark Zielinski said. “We have surprised a lot of people around the county. We have a bunch of really good people on our team and they work very hard. It’s helped us a lot to have two freshmen come in, who can put the ball in the basket.”

North Brunswick’s underclassmen have been a big part of the team’s success this winter, starting with freshman Niyell McCargo.

McCargo has made a name for herself in the conference with her fantastic freshman campaign, averaging 16 points per contest this season, while also leading the Raiders in assists and steals.

The freshman had a huge second half in North Brunswick’s victory over Colonia. After hitting a running jumper with two seconds left in the first half to give North Brunswick a 24-16 lead going into halftime, McCargo surged to score 10 points in the second half to provide her a team-high 17 points in the victory.

Still in awe with her play as a freshman, McCargo has taken full advantage for opportunities this season and couldn’t be happier about it and helping the team have a lot of success this season.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” McCargo said. “To be a freshman and be averaging over 16 points a game is unbelievable.”

McCargo credits her great play this season to participating in a men’s basketball league in the summertime. 

The great underclassmen production for the Raiders continues with sophomore Megan Farrell and freshman Anne Marie Quagliata.

Farrell is the team’s top threat from behind the arc, drilling 22 three-pointers so far this season and stands as the team’s second leading scorer.

The duo of McCargo and Farrell are a great fit for North Brunswick, with McCargo’s great ability to attack the basket, and Farrell, being able to shoot well from the outside and in the mid-range.

“We’ve all been working well together and the chemistry is great on the team,” Farrell said, “It feels good to be having a good year.”

Quagliata is the team’s third leading scorer and like McCargo, has been a great addition to the squad in the eyes of Zielinski.

Sophomore Kelly DeGaetano is another underclassmen who has provided a nice impact to North Brunswick on the court this season.

Down in the frontcourt, upperclassmen lead the way for North Brunswick in junior Adrianna Barnes and senior Zaniyah Boykins.

Barnes is averaging 5.2 points a contest and scored nine points in the team’s victory over Colonia. Boykins leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots.

Juniors Anishka Jain and Tianna Strachan have both contributed to the team’s success this season.

North Brunswick’s depth is something Zielinski is very happy and believes it will be a big strength for the team going into the postseason tournaments.

“I really like our depth,” Zielinski said. “It’s awesome to have depth. We can go eight or nine deep and put people on the court that can do positive things for us. It’ll help us when we’re in foul trouble and in matchups against different teams.”

The Raiders received the No. 10 seed in the conference tournament and will be the host to either Mother Seton Regional High School or The Timothy Christian School in the preliminary round on Feb. 17.

Making it to the conference quarterfinals would be a big accomplishment for North Brunswick, said Zielinski.

“We really need to defend our home-court and the hopefully have a chance at playing for a shot at making it to the quarterfinals,” Zielinski said. “Playing in the quarterfinals would be an incredible accomplishment for us and something many people at the beginning of the season wouldn’t expect of us.”

Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports