Bears boys look to prove themselves in postseason



The East Brunswick High School boys basketball team is 12-6 with two regular season games remaining, but the Bears believe they are better than what their record reflects.

They’ll have a chance to prove that in two upcoming postseason tournaments. The first is the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament, which begins with play-in games on Feb. 14. The tournament continues for the next two weeks and concludes with the title game at Rutgers University on Feb. 26. The GMCs are followed by the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV sectionals starting on March 2.

A year ago, East Brunswick reached the GMC championship game for the second consecutive season — losing to St. Joseph High School of Metuchen — and made the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals after winning the title the previous year.

This year’s team has had to overcome the graduation of Amir Bell (now playing for Princeton University), Garry Baumer, Owen Summerer and Carl Taylor. Last year’s team finished 19-7.

East Brunswick can take heart that many of its losses were to quality teams by slim margins. The last two illustrate this point. On Feb. 3, the Bears lost, 61-57, to St. Joe’s, and on Feb. 7, they fell to South Brunswick High School in triple overtime, 64-62. Either game could have gone East Brunswick’s way.

According to second-year head coach Mark Motusesky, the Bears’ success moving forward depends on how effectively they play defense — always a trademark of the team. He also believes leadership will be a key.

“My senior captains — Tyler McNamara, Alex Fitzgerald and John McHenry — have been instrumental in keeping the team motivated and together throughout the season,” he said. “John averages 7.4 points per game; Tyler averages seven rebounds; and Alex, in my mind, is the best defender in the conference.”

What might determine how far East Brunswick advances in the tournaments is the effectiveness of three juniors, all of whom Motusesky believes can play at the next level. Matt Ross is the leading scorer (17.5 points per game), and is a deadly longrange shooter. Point guard Mike Vick (10.9 ppg) is extremely athletic and can score inside and from the perimeter. And center Addis Ralph (9.6 ppg) adds a presence in the paint with his shot-blocking and rebounding capability.

Not to be forgotten is the contribution of players who don’t always see quality minutes.

“[They] have competed at a high level all year long in practice and have pushed the starters every day,” he said. “[Each] plays so hard, and that has made our team better. That’s why I credit everybody for what we’ve accomplished.”

Of course, whether all of this translates into the Bears mounting another run in the GMCs and sectional playoffs remains to be seen. Unlike last year, when East Brunswick and St. Joe’s were clearly the GMC’s best, a number of teams are capable of winning the title. In addition to St. Joe’s and East Brunswick, a renewed Cardinal McCarrick High School, Colonia High School and South Brunswick hope to be contenders.

As the regular season winds down, the Bears hosted Piscataway Township High School on Feb. 10 and Elizabeth High School on Feb. 12. The GMC Tournament selection committee will announce its seeds on Feb. 13.

Bears sign Letters of Intent

On Feb. 4, East Brunswick honored four athletes who signed National Letters of Intent to continue playing sports in college with a ceremony in the high school media center.

They are soccer players Carla LaRocca (William Paterson University) and Margaret Lee (University of Rochester) and lacrosse players Tom Perzok (Clark University) and Seth D’Ver (Marywood University).

Chris Yannazzo, recently appointed supervisor of physical education and athletics, commented on the four student-athletes and their accomplishments.

“These individuals are headed to Division III colleges and are examples of the excellence that occurs every day at East Brunswick schools,” he said.