MONROE: No surprises for Falcon hoop foes

Monroe boys return strong core

By Ken Weingartner, Special Writer
   Fans won’t see an ‘X’ on the jerseys of the Monroe Township High boys’ basketball team, but it is there.
   The Falcons, with a solid core of returnees coming off a 21-7 season, are not going to take anyone by surprise.
   ”For the past four years we’ve been trying to build the program and get respect,” Monroe coach Bob Turco said. “The respect is now there. We’ve gone from trying to earn respect to keeping it. It’s something different. We’ve never played with the ‘X’ on our backs. We’ve always been the underdog trying to prove we belong.”
   Monroe won its first two games of the season in dramatic fashion. The Falcons rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final 3:10 to defeat Colonia, 60-57, in their opener and then knocked off Sayreville, 68-62, in overtime Monday.
   Danny Brix, a sophomore, scored 22 points in the win over Colonia while Kenny Pace added 10 points. Brix had 19 points in the victory over Sayreville while his brother, Timmy, contributed 16.
   ”I never had a (win) at Colonia and I’m almost positive Monroe has never won there,” Turco said. “That’s the program we’re trying to become; that’s the one I wanted to mirror when I started this whole thing. It’s a huge win for the program. It’s a huge win for the seniors.
   ”I believe it’s a special start for a special season.”
   Monroe’s roster features five seniors in Blake Bascom, Zach Batchelor, Timmy Brix, Travis Dufner, and Pace.
   ”They’ve been through it all,” Turco said. “They’re the reason this respect is out there for us.”
   Pace averaged 10.8 points per game last season while Timmy Brix averaged 9.8 and Danny Brix 8.1. Ahmid Williams, a sophomore, dished out 5.3 assists per contest and had 2.1 steals per game.
   ”There are a lot of expectations put upon us and we put a lot of expectations upon ourselves,” Turco said. “We used to go out to compete, that was our goal, and now we go out and expect to win every night no matter who is across from us.
   ”In four years we’ve been building this house. We built the foundation, we built the walls, and now it’s time to decorate it. We’ve got to get some championships now.”
   Interestingly, the Falcons’ roster features six players who were on Monroe’s sectional state championship football team: Bascom, Williams, Alex Vizcaino, Ryan Genevieve, Mike Walp, and Kashaun Stroughn.
   ”It’s a great thing for our program as well,” Turco said. “Winning breeds winning, we all know that. People think it’s a hindrance, but it’s a blessing. Come the middle of January when you’re looking for that little bit extra, you can look down that bench and see six state champions; you know you’re going to get a little extra out of them.”
   Monroe played against Barnegat Tuesday in the WOBM Christmas Classic. With a victory, the Falcons play again in the tourney Saturday at the Ritacco Center in Toms River.
   The Falcons are the 16-team tourney’s No. 1 seed.
   ”I don’t know if they did it to try to make us nervous, or if they did it because they think we deserve it,” Turco said, laughing. “Whatever the reason, we’re No. 1 and we look forward to the challenge.”
   It comes with the X.