Goetz boys on verge of third straight title

BY MIKE WHITE Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JACKSON — The Goetz Middle School boys basketball team chases its third consecutive Ocean County Intermediate School Athletic League Red Division championship this afternoon when it squares off against rival Toms River East.

The Cougars, who knocked off TRE earlier in the season, are depending on solid play in the post from big men Bryan Solomon, Josiah Williams and Savon Huggins.

“We’re most effective when we get the ball down low to those guys,” Goetz coach Steve Bado said. “We’ve got good size and strength at the center and forward positions. We need to take advantage of that. That is going to be the key to this game.”

Indeed, stellar play down low has spearheaded Goetz to a gaudy 12-0 overall mark. Solomon is the squad’s leading scorer with 17 points per game. Williams is averaging 15, while Huggins contributes eight.

In addition, all three are monsters on the boards.

“Rebounding is an area where we have played very well,” Bado said. “We do a good job of holding teams to one shot each time down the floor. At the other end we pick up a lot of easy points on put backs.”

Goetz’s most recent victory was a 54-27 thrashing of Toms River South. Solomon paced the Cougars with 16 points and 12 boards, while Williams netted 14. Lead guard Andrew Pappas scored eight points and dished out 13 assists as Goetz won its 12th straight.

“We took advantage of our size against them,” Bado said. “We remained composed against their full-court pressure and picked up a lot of easy baskets. They pressed early, and we handled it well.”

Huggins had eight points, while Eric Kelly chipped in with six.

“We got a lot of people involved at the offensive end,” Bado said. “A lot of times this season, teams will double one of our big guys in the post, and that leaves people open. We need to make sure we deliver the ball to the open man.”

Bado credits his team’s experience for putting them in a position to win its third consecutive divisional crown.

“There is a lot of parity in the division this year, but we have avoided getting knocked off so far,” Bado said. “I think our guys are a little more battle-tested then the rest of the teams. We have guys who have been through it before. I think that is the main difference.”

In a 47-33 victory over Southern Regional, Goetz overcame early foul trouble to rally for the win. Both Williams and Solomon went to the bench with three fouls in the second quarter.

“Without our big guys in the game, they made a run on us,” Bado said.

Despite limited minutes, Williams still managed to score a game-high 16 points. Solomon had 12, while Pappas and Huggins combined for 14.

Southern Regional came into the contest with a 4-1 mark and took a 24-21 lead at the half. But the Goetz defense stiffened in the third quarter, allowing Southern Regional just two points in the quarter.

The Cougars took a 37-26 lead into the fourth quarter.

“They are a tough team,” Bado said. “They did a good job on us in the first half. But we some adjustments at the half and our defense really stepped up in the third quarter.”

The Goetz full-court pressure proved troublesome for Southern Regional.

“They’re big but they don’t have guards,” Bado said. “Once we put the press on, they began turning the ball over. We got a lot of easy points.”

Bado cited the fine play off the bench of reserves Matt Ferro, Jim McDonnell and Garrett Dorsey.

“Those guys have filled in and done what has been asked,” Bado said. “They have given the starters plenty of support.”