Versatile SBHS on a roll in boys hoops

By: Redd E. Patrick
   If it’s not Cliff Breese knocking down a 3-pointer or slam dunking the basketball, it’s Darryl Pratt or Mike Sexton making a steal leading to an easy hoop. If it’s not Dan Stonkus smacking another shot against the backboard or piling up another rebound, it’s Alex Persaud breaking your back with a 3-pointer. Or maybe it’s Tommy Hill feeding Amin Gillespie with a no-look pass for two points.
   The South Brunswick Vikings have been driving opponents crazy on both ends of the floor with different lineups of different sizes. The balanced attack for the Vikings has led to a four-game winning streak and a 6-1 record following Tuesday night’s 62-55 overtime victory over Piscataway (South Brunswick took on St. Joseph’s Thursday night).
   "The 6-1 record is a surprise, but a very pleasant surprise," South Brunswick coach Dave Turco said.
   The Vikings are coming off four impressive victories — 56-48 vs. West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 51-45 over Union, 74-43 over a quality Old Bridge team and the OT win over Piscataway, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. In each victory, Turco has had many contributors.
   "We haven’t had one set lineup at the end of any game," Turco said. "We can use different lineups for different matchups and we use different lineups for offensive and defensive purposes. One thing I knew before the season was that we had depth and would be able to use different combinations."
   Three constants for the Vikings have been the play of Stonkus, Breese and Hill.
   Stonkus, a 6-9 senior, is coming off three monster games in which he is averaging a triple-double with 39 points (13.0), 47 rebounds (15.6) and 32 blocked shots (10.6).
   "Danny’s been playing outstanding," Turco said. "Our defense has picked up and one of the main reasons is that we’re able to pressure the ball because if get beat, Danny’s back there either blocking shots or altering them. Sometimes we forget to box out because we just assume he’s going to get the rebound.’
   Breese, the versatile 6-4 senior wingman, is averaging 13.8 points per game, while Hill, a sophomore, is averaging close to 10 assists per game over his three in running the show.
   "Cliff has been very consistent for us and Tommy has really stepped up," Turco said. "He was coming off football and we’re running him out there for 32 minutes, so it took him a while to get into basketball shape. But he’s been great running the team. I’m very confident in him."
   Turco can’t say enough about his entire rotation.
   "Mike Sexton has been doing it defensively, Darryl Pratt was our high-scorer one night, Alex Persaud came up big another night, kids like Coron Short and Amin Gillespie come in and perform," Turco said. "The kids are working hard and everyone is contributing."
   Against Piscataway, the Vikings were trailing 28-24 at the half and 37-33 after three quarters, but two foul shots by Stonkus gave them a two-point lead with 31 seconds left in regulation. Piscataway’s Manny Perrotte then sent the contest into OT with two foul shots with 15 seconds left. In the OT, Persaud hit a baseline jumper to give the Vikes a one-point lead, but that was the start of a 10-0 run, which sealed it.
   Stonkus finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocks and was 6-for-7 from the foul line. Persaud added 19 points and Breese 16, while Hill had six points, nine assists and six steals, including three steals in overtime.
   "We need 10 wins to make the state tournament," Turco said. "That’s our first goal. That’s what we’re concentrating on now."
   If recent developments mean much, it should be attainable.