EDISON, NJ -- It isn't easy for opponents to wear down the East Brunswick boys basketball team.
The Bears' depth enables them to retain their game legs down the stretch, and also to play the kind of defense that head coach Mark Motusesky wants to implement for 32 minutes each game.
Strong efforts from the bench again buttressed solid performances by the starters as East Brunswick took control of the game with a big second quarter and went on to a 54-42 victory over J.P. Stevens Tuesday evening.
Freshman forward Jalen Pichardo scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and junior center Devin Kennedy had a good game on the blocks with 12 points for the Bears (7-7), who unleashed an 18-2 run bridging the first two quarters to take a 15-point lead with 2:22 left in the first half.
They did it in waves, too, as a group of second-unit (and even third-unit) players came in during the course of the opening half with absolutely no fall-off from what the starters were providing.
"We have great depth," Kennedy said. "Everbody here trusts each other. We love each other on this team. We don't need to play the whole game. Everyone who is on the court is on the court for a reason."
Pichardo scored eight points and Kennedy and reserve guard Dylan McCann four each in the 18-2 spree that was marked by ballhawking defense, uptempo transition, crisp passing and aggressive drives to the basket. All of those things are made possible, no matter which combination of five players is on the floor, by the team's depth and interchangeability.
"Our depth helps us the way we want to defend by keeping everybody fresh," Motusesky said. "The players who are coming off the bench deserve playing time. They've earned it."
Starting point guard Justin Black scored eight points and handed out four assists, but McCann, a lefty with a good handle, turned in a solid effort spelling Black at the point. In addition to two free throws and a driving bucket in the 18-2 spurt, McCann finished with four assists in less than 16 minutes, and he took care of the ball, something Motusesky says has earned McCann more minutes.
"Dylan stays poised out there," Motusesky said. "We are able to run our stuff with him, and he does not turn the ball over much, which had been an issue in our backcourt earlier this season."
Rico Gomez and Desola Awoyode each had six points for East Brunswick, which is now just two victories away from matching the team's win total a year ago, when the Bears went 9-15.