South Brunswick finally runs out of comebacks

By: Redd E. Patrick
   A strange thing happened to the South Brunswick High School boys basketball team in its quest for an 11th straight victory on Monday night.
   Falling behind in the fourth quarter just like they always do, the Vikings could not complete the comeback this time in falling to East Brunswick 57-45.
   South Brunswick took a 12-1 record into East Brunswick, which was 5-7 and riding a three-game losing streak, including the previous two in overtime.
   In their 12 victories coming in, the Vikings had trailed in the fourth quarter in nine of those contests. So, when the Bears claimed a 37-31 lead early in the final session, the Vikings just figured it was another day at the office.
   "You have to credit East Brunswick," South Brunswick coach Dave Turco said. "They answered all of our runs. In our past games in the fourth quarter, we were able to make a run, then stop the other team defensively. But we weren’t able to stop them defensively. Every time we made a charge, they had an answer. That was the first time someone answered us like that."
   South Brunswick, which was led by Darryl Pratt’s 15 points, Mike Sexton’s 10 Dan Stonkus’ nine points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, trailed 38-35 and had a chance to draw closer, but a missed layup off a steal proved costly.
   The Vikings, who have problems shooting the ball sometimes, missed several other opportunities down the stretch.
   "We missed six foul shots in the fourth quarter and we missed eight chippies for the game," Turco said. "We held them to 18 points at the half, but only had a one-point lead. Our low-percentage shooting finally caught up with us."
   Turco realized his team’s winning streak would come to an end. And, since his team gave a 100 percent effort, it was not a devastating loss.
   "As long as the kids can learn from it, it’s not a terrible loss," Turco said. "They know they let one go, they know it was a game they could have won. But the kids played hard, we’re still in control of the Red Division and I’m hoping we can learn something from the game. Their coach (Bo Henning) said to me after the game that he needed that game for the states more than we did."
   With Wednesday night’s game with Old Bridge postponed, the Vikings stand at 12-2 overall and 7-1 in the GMC’s Red Division with six to go. Perth Amboy and St. Joseph’s, two teams South Brunswick has beaten, each have two division losses.
   The Vikings have a tough road ahead as they play at Piscataway on Thursday, then host St. Joseph’s on Tuesday before hosting Burlington City in the Prime Time Shootout on Thursday.
   Before moving to the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton for a series of games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Prime Time event will be held at South Brunswick with a four-game card on Thursday.
   South Brunswick will play Burlington City at 4:30 p.m., followed by Blair Academy vs. Paterson Catholic at 6:00, St. Patrick’s of Elizabeth vs. Cranford at 7:30 and St. Benedict’s vs. Eastern Commerce of Canada at 9:00.
   "This is a big week for us," Turco said. "Reality Week."