EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Each season is a new season, and in each new season, teams must learn how to win. Especially how to win close games. In the case of the East Brunswick High School Bears, coming off a brutal one point buzzer beating loss to rival St. Joe's, the need to get over that hump became even more critical. After Friday night's 43-42 nail biting victory over North Brunswick in the first round of the Brunswick Classic Holiday Tournament, Head Coach Mark Motuesky's Bears may have accomplished what they needed to, and can now exhale and start to focus on playing the kind of basketball that is expected of them.
What made this even more impressive was that the Bears were able to win while playing the second half without their star guard Amir Bell. Bell was injured in the second quarter after hitting his head on the court and suffering from vision issues afterwards. In stepped Matt Ross, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half, and helped to steady a Bears team seemingly shaken by the loss of their star.
North Brunswick carried a 20-17 lead into the halftime locker room, and questions and concerns surely were beginning to appear as to whether the Bears had someone who could step up and take control. Ross steadied things, and after an even third quarter, the Bears finally regained the slim one point margin with just over a minute left to play. They then relied on a very tight defense that didn't allow North Brunswick to score in the final minute, as the defensive stand gave Motuesky his first victory as Bears Head Coach after many years as the assistant in East Brunswick.
The Bears now advance to meet South Brunswick in the Championship Game of the Brunswick Classic on Monday at 2:30 at East Brunswick High School.