BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Coming off of a road loss at Ridge two nights prior, Bridgewater-Raritan got off to a rough start at home against East Brunswick Feb. 8.
It did not help that every shot seemed to fall for the visitors as well.
East Brunswick (10-9) scored the game’s first seven points and never looked back at Bridgewater-Raritan (4-17). While the Panthers clawed back to within seven points with 5:45 to go, an 18-8 game-ending run by the Bears capped off a 65-48 victory for East Brunswick on an afternoon where the visitors made ten shots from behind the arc and saw four starters reach double figures.
This included Bears center Devin Kennedy, who scored the first two of his 12 points in the post to open the contest. East Brunswick guard Jackson Bayuk then hit the first of his three triples on the way to 13 total points before Kennedy showed his range from just inside the arc, as the Bears center hit a long jumper to put the Bears up 7-0 just under three minutes into the game.
Bridgewater-Raritan finally got on the board with 5:02 left in the opening period when Zach Letts found Alec Whelan for a layup and one. Trailing by four at this point, the Panthers came up empty on their next two possessions despite good looks on their shot attempts. East Brunswick starting forward Jalen Pichardo, who led all scorers with 17 points, then capitalized on these missed Panthers shots by scoring on a contested jumper and a putback to double the Bears’ lead to eight. While Alvin Cheng and Joey Callari each scored two points in the first frame for the Panthers shortly afterwards, Bears guard Ricardo Gomez answered with a pair of buckets in the final two minutes for East Brunswick for the first four of his 13 points on the afternoon.
With these two field goals, the Bears took a 15-7 lead after one period. But it appeared Bridgewater-Raritan then settled in despite being held to only two field goals in the first quarter.
Callari, who led the Panthers with 14 points, intercepted a pass on the first East Brunswick possession of the second quarter, eventually leading to a bucket from Mickey Wasko at the other end. Callari then came up with a big rebound on the next Bears possession, and this led to a pair of free throws from Whelan to cut East Brunswick’s lead to four with 6:10 left in the half.
But with Bridgewater-Raritan only trailing 15-11 at that point, East Brunswick then went on a 15-6 run in the next five minutes, which included a pair of shots from downtown by Bayuk and one more three-pointer from Bears guard Desola Awoyode off the bench. In the final minute of the second quarter, Bridgewater-Raritan closed out the half with a pair of free throws from Callari and a buzzer-beating layup by Brandyn Vaughn. While the Panthers shot a perfect 9-for-9 at the free throw line in the first half, they trailed 30-19 as a result of thirteen field goals by East Brunswick, who did not make a free throw in the first two periods.
Coming out of the locker room, East Brunswick found itself in trouble when Kennedy picked up back-to-back fouls in the first minute of the third quarter. This put the Bears starting center, who had been dominant on both ends of the floor up to that point, at four fouls and off of the floor as a result.
However, his teammates continued to hits shots for East Brunswick in his absence.
Gomez hit a quick pair of three-pointers for the Bears with a triple by Letts in between for the Panthers, extending East Brunswick’s lead to 36-26 with 6:40 left in the third quarter. The Panthers had their best period from under the basket, as Bridgewater-Raritan scored four field goals in the paint. But 12 of the Bears’ 15 points in the third quarter came on two triples each from Gomez and Pichardo to give East Brunswick a 45-33 lead heading into the game’s final eight minutes.
A quick 7-2 run by Bridgewater-Raritan, which included two three-pointers from Letts, got the Panthers to within 47-40 with 5:45 to play and appeared to give the home team late momentum. But while Bridgewater-Raritan seemed to find its rhythm on offense in the final period, East Brunswick seemed to have an answer for every Panthers bucket. This included the Bears’ tenth and final made shot of the day from downtown on a long-range bucket by Brendan Devlin.
Leading 57-46 at this point with 3:15 to go at this point, East Brunswick held Bridgewater-Raritan without a field goal the rest of the way and scored eight of the game’s final ten points, giving the visitors a 65-48 Saturday afternoon victory over the Panthers.
Bridgewater-Raritan shot 15-for-19 (79 percent) at the free throw line in what ended up being their sixth straight loss. East Brunswick only shot 3-for-6 (50 percent) at the charity stripe but made 26 field goals: 10 from downtown and 16 from inside the arc.
East Brunswick 65, Bridgewater-Raritan 48
East Brunswick: Q1- 15; Q2- 15; Q3- 15; Q4- 20; TOTAL- 65
- Jalen Pichardo- 17 points
- Jackson Bayuk- 13 points
- Ricardo Gomez- 13 points
- Devin Kennedy- 12 points
- Brendan Devlin- 5 points
- Desola Awoyode- 3 points
- Dylan McCann- 2 points
Bridgewater-Raritan: Q1- 7; Q2- 14; Q3- 12; Q4- 15; TOTAL- 48
- Joey Callari- 14 points
- Zach Letts- 9 points
- Alec Whelan- 8 points
- Alvin Cheng- 5 points
- Brandyn Vaughn- 4 points
- Mickey Wasko- 4 points
- Rishi Mudduluru- 3 points
- Mike Pastor- 1 point
REMAINING REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:
Two more home games remain for Bridgewater-Raritan (4-17) before their regular-season finale at Bound Brook on Feb. 27. Next up will be a Tuesday evening crosstown matchup against Immaculuta, with tip against the Spartans taking place at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
Going into their matchup, Immaculata has a 7-1 record against common opponents of Bridgewater-Raritan both teams have already played this season, with an average margin of victory of just over 12 points in these games. The Spartans’ only setback in these eight games was a 51-46 loss at Ridge Jan. 21, in which the Red Devils avenged a 57-54 defeat at the hands of the Spartans a month earlier.
Bridgewater-Raritan currently has a 2-6 record against these common opponents, including a home win over Phillipsburg, a split of their regular-season series with Hillsborough, but most recently falling 62-46 at Ridge Feb. 6.
For detailed Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers Athletics schedules and game locations, please see https://bridgewaterraritanhighschool.bigteams.com/.
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