Third time not a charm

After beating Old Bridge twice, Vikes fall in GMCT semifinals

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   EDISON — It was final four and out the door for the South Brunswick High School girls basketball team in this year’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament.
   Seventh-seeded Old Bridge (17-8) knocked off the sixth-seeded Vikings, 49-37, in the first of two semifinal games at Middlesex County College Tuesday.
   The Lady Knights, which lost twice to South Brunswick during the regular season, became the lowest seeded team in tournament history to reach the finals and will play top-seeded J.P. Stevens tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m.
   Boehmer said she put no stock in the theory that it’s always difficult to beat a team three times in a season, noting that, "We had just beaten East Brunswick three times in 10 days. I try not to think about that stuff. I think there’s too much emphasis on it. I just don’t think we played well. No one had a very fluid shooting night."
   The Vikings, a team that relies on balanced scoring, struggled all night to put points on the board. They fought back from a 14-6 first quarter deficit to take a slim 24-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
   Senior Heather Domotor, who entered the game needing eight points to reach 1,000 for her high school career, led the Vikings with 13, but that was low compared to the 20 points she netted in a 65-61 quarterfinal victory over Middlesex. Domotor’s 1,000th came on a coast-to-coast lay-up that gave her team a five point cushion with 4:36 left in the third quarter.
   After Domotor’s contribution, there were four Vikings who tossed in four points apiece, not the team’s usual output.
   "Heather didn’t really have the kind of game she normally has," Viking head coach Jaymee Boehmer said. "And I don’t think anyone else stepped up and really made some big shots. That definitely hurt us."
   Old Bridge relied on seniors Cathy Rutter and Jaime Capra who scored 19 and 16 points, respectively. That’s 35 out of the team’s total of 49.
   "Their two best players (Rutter and Capra) both stepped up on the same day," Boehmer said. "They’re good players and when they both play well, it’s going to make them tough."
   Neither side built up an insurmountable lead during the first three quarters. The Knights eight-point cushion going into the second was quickly erased by a 12 point South Brunswick run. A three-pointer by Domotor got things going. During the run, Sam Rene hit a free throw and a lay-up, and Pan Weiss scored inside on a pass from Domotor. Jess Harbison converted two offensive rebounds. Altogether, the Vikings outscored the Knights 18-7 in the second quarter.
   Old Bridge came back on the Vikings to forge a 35-35 tie going into the last stanza, then went on to outscore South 14-2 down the home stretch. The Knights used a six-point run to give themselves some breathing room, while the Vikings only collected fouls. With the bonus light lit for Old Bridge, the Knights went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final minute to seal the victory. Two Viking players picked up their fifth fouls during that same time.
   "We played extremely poorly tonight," Boehmer said. "We entered the fourth quarter 35-35, and we had two points and two rebounds. You can’t win any game doing that.
   "I certainly don’t think that fourth quarter defines our season – we’ve had a great season. It was a tough game, and I just feel like we were unfocused today. We couldn’t score, and that cost us the game."
   After a first round ‘bye, South Brunswick advanced to the semis by beating East Brunswick 53-50 in the second round, and upsetting third-seeded Middlesex 65-61 in the quarterfinals. This year’s run is the furthest South Brunswick has gone in the GMCT since moving up into the Red Division several years ago.
   Now that the Vikings are out of the county tournament, their attention will turn to preparing for the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV contest. After a first round ‘bye, South will join the action this Wednesday with a home game against Trenton. The Vikings earned the fourth seed in their flight.
   Boehmer hopes to pick up a scrimmage between now and Wednesday, but is happy to have the time off before the states begin.
   "This is decompression time," the coach said. "You kind of sit and think about (the GMCT loss) for a while, and get it out of your system. I’m glad we don’t have to come right back on Monday."
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   Domotor became the third player in SBHS history to score 1,000 points, joining her aunt, Sandy Domotor, who did it in the mid 1970’s, and Katie Tracy, who did it in 1999.
   "That was a very big deal for her," Boehmer said. "Especially since her aunt was the first one to do it. I know that was a goal she set for herself as a freshman, so it was nice that she could accomplish it."
   Sports editor Rich Fisher contributed to this story.