South Brunswick plays fast and storms into boys’ basketball sectional semifinals

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South Brunswick High School boys' basketball player Devin Strickland leads the fast break during the team's game against Hightstown High School in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament on March 5. Strickland scored 16 points in South Brunswick's 84-41 victory over Hightstown to advance to the sectional semifinals.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School boys' basketball player Justin Carbone dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against Hightstown High School in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament on March 5. Carbone scored a game-high 26 points in the victory.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School boys' basketball player Yathmin Vemula tries to steal the ball from Hightstown High School's Daron Pierre during the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament on March 5. South Brunswick defeated Hightstown, 84-41.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School boys' basketball player Devin Strickland leads the fast break during the team's game against Hightstown High School in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament on March 5. Strickland scored 16 points in South Brunswick's 84-41 victory over Hightstown to advance to the sectional semifinals.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School boys' basketball player Justin Carbone dribbles the ball up the court during the team's game against Hightstown High School in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament on March 5. Carbone scored a game-high 26 points in the victory.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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South Brunswick High School boys' basketball player Yathmin Vemula tries to steal the ball from Hightstown High School's Daron Pierre during the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament on March 5. South Brunswick defeated Hightstown, 84-41.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

The South Brunswick High School boys’ basketball team’s magical season moved on into the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 Tournament.

On March 7, the fourth-seeded Vikings will square off against the No. 1 seed, Middletown High School South, in what should be a great semifinal contest with a spot in the state sectional final on the line.

There was no slowing down South Brunswick in advancing to the semifinals of Central Jersey, Group 4 on March 5 in South Brunswick against the No. 5 seed, Hightstown High School.

Facing the team that handed them their first loss off the season back on Dec. 23, the Vikings showed the Hightstown how much better of a team they have become in the second half of the season with an impressive 84-41 victory to improve to 23-5 on the season.

“Hightstown did a great job running its set plays in our first meetings and we wanted to come out and disrupt that the best we could,” said South Brunswick coach Joe Hoehman. “When we’re flying around getting deflections and getting on the fast break, we are tough to stop.”

South Brunswick forced four turnovers during the first five possessions of the contest and saw senior Devin Strickland lead them on a 6-0 run to begin the contest.

From there, senior Justin Carbone took over for the Vikings.

Showing off his entire arsenal from driving to the basket and pulling up from three-point range, Carbone recorded 13 points in the quarter and led South Brunswick to a 21-15 lead going into the season quarter.

Carbone scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the first as he continued to put up monster numbers for the Vikings during the final stretch of the season.

The senior is averaging 22.8 points in the last nine games for the Vikings.

“I come to the gym the night before and put a lot of shots up, so I can be prepared for the game,” Carbone said. “The ball was just going through the basket in the first half. My teammates kept giving me the ball in the right spots and I just knocked down my shots.”

Strickland knocked in a layup off a nice dish by teammate Yathmin Vemula on a set play during the final seconds of the first half to give South Brunswick a 39-24 halftime lead.

The senior connected on 10 of his 16 points in the first half.

Both Strickland and Carbone are averaging just under 20 point per game this season.

“Playing with (Carbone) is the best thing for me,” Strickland said. “If he gets rolling, I know I have his back and he will have confidence to keep it going the rest of the game and make my life easier.”

South Brunswick came out on fire in the second half to secure its spot in the semifinals, starting the third quarter on a 21-0 run.

Vemula began the third quarter with a steal and a layup. The sophomore finished with eight points in the victory.

Junior Ty Murchison anchored the strong start by the Vikings, knocking in back-to-back three pointers and scoring eight points during the run.

Murchison’s two straight knock downs from three came after senior Akhil Edekar banged home his first three-pointer of the night.

South Brunswick knocked in a total of 10 three-pointers in the victory and outscored Hightstown 29-11 in the third quarter.

Murchison finished with 11 points to give South Brunswick three players in double figures.

The Vikings are now 11-1 in their last 11 games and are averaging 77.4 per contest during that stretch.

South Brunswick knows that it needs to continue to play hard and play its fast style of pace to get by Middletown South and make it to the sectional final.

“We gotta make sure that we play hard every time we get on the court and play our pace,” Strickland said. “Most teams are not used to the tempo we play at. It tires them out and we are then able to capitalize on it.”

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