An optimistic girls team hosts East Brunswick in GMCT

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   People shouldn’t be surprised if the sound of whistling is heard coming from the girls’ locker room at South Brunswick High School this week. That would be the sound of optimism permeating the atmosphere around the Lady Viking basketball team.
   And that’s because South Brunswick garnered the sixth seed in this year’s Greater Middlesex Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament which got under way this week.
   "We have a great seed," Viking head coach Jaymee Boehmer said. "I don’t think I could have asked for a better seed. We’re not in the number one bracket. If we do well, we’ll end up playing the winner of Old Bridge/Woodbridge in the semis. First, we have to get past East Brunswick, and then I’m assuming, Middlesex would be the next game. I haven’t seen them play and I really have to find out what they do, because they’ve had a really good season."
   South Brunswick had a first round bye, but Boehmer’s prediction as to the Vikings’ opponent for round two proved accurate. East Brunswick, seeded 11th, will be at South for the second round tomorrow (Friday), as the 49-36 victor over 22nd ranked Sayreville.
   The Vikings expect to be ready for the Lady Bears, but no one is predicting an easy game. Because of a snow-delay, these two Red Division rivals ended up playing both of their regular season games just a few days apart last week. South won both, but the second game was harder than the first, and the Vikings will be trying to avoid the third-game jinx.
   "I just think we have to play better defense," Boehmer said. "We only beat them by two the other day, but we had a very tough night scoring. I think just having practice the next few days will help us re-focus for the entire tournament."
   In addition to a solid season in the GMC’s toughest division behind them (15-6), the Vikings will have two other things going for them in the next few weeks. First of all, the players are all healthy and in good shape. And the second secret weapon in the Viking arsenal is the players who come off the bench. Boehmer is never hesitant to substitute, since each of her subs has something to offer, depending on the situation.
   "Courtney Breese had nine points for us at East Brunswick," Boehmer said. "And Janelle Payne’s actually been coming up big in the last few games. She was my high scorer the other day with 10. She had 17 in Tuesday’s game against East Brunswick, so she’s really coming on strong. Anyone on our team can score, so it’s just a matter of what we need. If I need a 3-point shooter, it’ll be Breese. If I need a big kid, it will probably be Janelle or Sam Rene."
   If the seedings in this bracket hold up, South Brunswick should end up playing third seeded Middlesex High School in the quarterfinals at Middlesex County College on Feb. 22. The Lady Blue Jays (18-1) are this year’s Blue Division Champions. The Blue is the third of four flights in the GMC, behind the Red and White Divisions.
   "They have one kid who has a Division I scholarship, so we’ll have to see how we match up," Boehmer said. "I think (a game between us) will be a good test for them as well. We’re used to playing the tougher teams. That’s why I like being in the Red, because at tournament time, we’re not afraid to play anybody. I really think we have a great chance in this tournament, and I hope my kids think that, too. We’ve really had a great season, and hopefully that’s going to carry us through this tournament."