EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -- Making frequent use of its ability to go to the basket, East Brunswick built a double-digit lead by the second quarter and went on to a 54-41 boys basketball victory over Bridgewater-Raritan Saturday afternoon.
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for East Brunswick (4-8). Bridgewater-Raritan (3-9) has been dealing with growing pains, as an entirely different starting five from last year's team continues to work at gelling together as a new unit. Bridgewater is breaking this new lineup in while dealing with one of the toughest schedules in this part of the state, including two games apiece against state powers Gill-St. Bernard's, Hunterdon Central and Watchung Hills.
East Brunswick, playing the last several games without skilled junior forward Issac Holmes, who is out with an achilles injury, opened an early 13-4 lead, with senior point guard Travis Cumber's playmaking ability as a penetrator and a ballhawk playing big keys in the early spurt. Cumber, who finished with 14 points and five assists, scored off a steal and on a drive and assisted teammates Christian Kuan and Utkarsh Swathsi on baskets in the early going.
Swasthi also finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, to tie Cumber for the team lead in scoring on Saturday.
The Bears led, 15-9, after one quarter, built a 10-point lead at 20-10 and were ahead, 31-18, at the break. Cumber was able to drive through the Panthers' 2-3 and 1-2-2 zones to hit four of six shots in the opening half. When he drove into the teeth of Bridgewater's defense, it opened up shooting room for other East Brunswick players, and the Bears finished 13-for-26 from the floor in the first half.
At the other end, East Brunswick was hounding and pestering Bridgewater-Raritan into nine turnovers before the break. Cumber finished with four steals.
Senior guard John Sibiga led Bridgewater-Raritan with 14 points. He was 5-for-11 from the field. Although saddled with foul trouble, promising sophomore forward Alec Whelan finished with 10 points (3-4 FG, 4-4 FT) and three rebounds for the Panthers, who fell behind by as many as 19, 41-22, before outscoring East Brunswick, 19-13, the rest of the way.
Kelvin Chen led East Brunswick in rebounds with seven. Jeffrey Mao and Jaylen Rodgers each had five rebounds for Bridgewater-Raritan.
Bridgewater-Raritan (3-9) 9 9 12 11 -- 41
East Brunswick (4-8) 15 16 15 8 -- 54