NOTEBOOK: East Brunswick gains momentum

For the East Brunswick High School girls basketball team, every game has been a chance to improve.

After getting off to a 2-1 start with a loss to South Brunswick in the All-Brunswick Holiday Tournament thrown in, the Bears have rolled off four straight victories due in large part to growing as a team.

“Honestly, we’ve got good team chemistry, and that’s a big thing for us,” head coach Keith Lane said. “Collectively we’re getting better with good, aggressive practices. This is my first year, so a lot of what we’re doing is new. In the first couple of games, we were struggling to execute the little things, but in each game since, we have gotten better.”

With victories over Perth Amboy, Millburn, South Plainfield and Woodbridge, the Bears have clamped down on defense and stayed out of foul trouble, according to Lane. He said that early on, his squad was making a lot of mistakes and getting key players into foul trouble and out of rhythm.

“We just have more confidence in what we’re doing right now,” Lane said. “We’ve gotten better in playing defense; that’s one of the things I preached early in the season. I like to play man-to-man defense and I tell the girls that half of the game is defense. We still have a long way to go, dealing with screens and cuts.”

In its four-game winning streak, East Brunswick (6-1) has allowed just 38 points per game, but Lane says he refuses to look ahead to more than one game at a time.

“We’re not good enough yet to look ahead; we’re all about us and the next opponent on the schedule,” Lane said. “We haven’t played Piscataway yet and we lost to South Brunswick, so we don’t talk about the schedule too far ahead. We take it one game at a time.”

But East Brunswick will get its shot at Piscataway next Tuesday in a Red Division showdown.

Freeman reaches milestone

Last Saturday against Mother Seton, J.F. Kennedy High School star Taylor Freeman went over 1,000 career points in the Mustangs’ 53-34 victory. With a layup off a pass from classmate Jolie Tang, Freeman got the milestone point en route to finishing with a game-high 26 points.

“It’s been amazing coaching Taylor in her career and scoring 1,000 points is a tremendous milestone to achieve,” J.F. Kennedy head coach Heidi Hodnett said. “Taylor has been a great leader, a two-year captain, and I look forward to her finishing out her senior year as strong as it’s started.”

Freeman has averaged 17.3 points per game this year as the Mustangs have raced out to an unbeaten start. But J.F. Kennedy has been successful this season due in large part to having offensive balance, with Tang and Rachel Andrejcak contributing 13.3 and 13.4 points respectively. Andrejcak has also averaged 13 rebounds per game, with five double-doubles in seven games.

“Taylor has been surrounded by successful teams and players, with high-scoring potential, has allowed our team to spread out the offense and not let defenders key in on one player,” Hodnett said.

South River off to strong start

In the Gold Division, South River is also off to a perfect start, winning all seven of its games by double-digits. The Rams are one of three unbeaten teams in the GMC, led by sophomore Gabrielle Harris, who leads the team with 15.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In December, South River won the Henry Hudson Holiday Tournament, and after beating defending Gold Division champ Timothy Christian on opening night, the Rams have kept the pedal to the metal.

Edison to go pink

Thursday night, Edison High School will host its Pink Night, with proceeds going to The Cancer Center of St. Peter’s. According to head coach Amy Hansen, the Eagles will wear pink warm up shirts, socks, and pink laces in their sneakers. The basketball to be used in the game against Woodbridge will also be pink and Hansen said that she has pink nets as well.

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