OLD BRIDGE, NJ — Many teams, when faced with a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, would turn to their 3-point offense to try to come back.
The East Brunswick boys basketball team did precisely the opposite of that. Trailing by 11 points with seven minutes left in the game, the Bears repeatedly pounded the ball inside, scoring all of their fourth-quarter points in the paint to rally for a 53-51 victory over Old Bridge Monday night.
The Bears (5-3) were down, 42-35, after three quarters, then Old Bridge (1-5) scored the first four points of the final period to open an 11-point lead. From there, East Brunswick went on a 14-0 run.
Senior center Devin Kennedy scored eight of his 22 points and sophomore forward Jalen Pichardo scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter for East Brunswick, which embarked on its comeback when Pichardo stuck back an offensive rebound to cut Old Bridge's lead to nine.
Kennedy took a pass down low from Jordan Williams and scored on a layup. With 5:28 left, Kennedy went up strong for two to bring EB within five, 46-41. Pichardo sank a pair of foul shots, Kennedy scored inside on a pass from Zach Zebro with 4:08 left, Pichardo gave the Bears a 47-46 lead on a layup off a pass from Williams with 3:35 left, then Williams converted a pass from Zebro into a fastbreak layup for a 49-46 Bears lead with 3:05 left.
Old Bridge tied the game, 49-49, on a 3-pointer. Then Zebro, a guard more accustomed to the perimeter, went in the lane, posted up and hit a turnaround bank shot with 2:35 to go for what proved to be the game-winner, giving EB a 51-49 lead.
Kennedy's rebound basket with 1:59 left extended the East Brunswick lead to four, 53-49. Old Bridge's final points came on a driving basket with 1:05 left. Old Bridge missed two foul shots with 1.9 seconds left that would have tied the game.