HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The unsung component of the East Brunswick High School boys basketball team rose up and shined at the most important moment of their season Thursday night, as the Bears rode their outstanding team defense and the 3-point shooting of Garry Baumer to hold off Somerset County champion Hillsborough High School, 38-35, in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 state tournament in a game played at Hillsborough.
This was arguably the fiercest defensive battle that the Bears had played in all season, as both teams packed in their zone defense and tried to force the other into outside shots. The first-half scoring reflected it, as neither team could break double-digit scoring in either quarter. The halftime score of 13-11 reflected the scoring difficulties of both teams, with Hillsborough having slightly the better of the play, especially holding Bears star Amir Bell in check.
However, Bears Coach Mark Motusesky sent the team out in a man-to-man defense in the second half, and the change got the Bears to play far more aggressively. That, coupled with Baumer's 3-point shooting moved the Bears in front in the third quarter, the session ending with the Bears in front, 26-25.
The back and forth continued in the final quarter, and a fierce dunk by Hillsborough's Jalen Parham gave them the lead with about three minutes to play. Shortly afterwards, Baumer hit the last of his five three pointers (four in the second half) to give the Bears a lead that they never relinquished. Hillsborough had numerous chances to tie the game in the last minute and a half, but missed three times on three point attempts, the last of which settled into Bell's waiting arms as the buzzer sounded.
The Bears move on to the Group 4 semifinals on Saturday against the top-seeded Cougars of Montgomery High School this Saturday at 3 p.m.