SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — Coming off a resurgent year in which Scotch Plains-Fanwood boys’ basketball matched its second-highest win total in school history (22) and appeared in the Union County quarterfinals -- a huge feat for a public school in Union County -- the Raiders hit the court with high aspirations in 2017-18.
Tipping-off the season at 7:00 p.m. Friday night in Colonia and returning 11 players and three starters back to the hardwood — four of whom have played varsity for the past two seasons — the Raiders posses a deadly combination of experience, depth, height and quickness.
The backcourt will be led by seniors Tommy Drubulis and Lamont Cruse, both entering their third varsity season. Drubulis, a true point guard, dropped 9.0 points-per-game and led the team with 239 total points and 34 three-pointers a year ago. He also took a leadership role that he will carry into this season. Cruse, a lockdown defender with strong shooting capabilities, averaged 8 points per game last year and scored the second most points on the team (218).
On the wings will stand sharpshooter Ryan Muench and power forward Jack Brady. Both athletic forwards, Muench and Brady combined for 283 points last season. Brady has been starting varsity since his sophomore year and netted a team-high 78 field goals in the 2016-17 season.
Dwight Laylor, an excellent overall athlete who starred at wide receiver for the football team this fall, will hold down the center position. Often throwing down breath-stopping dunks and crashing the rebounds, Laylor is capable of posting a double-double any night he steps onto the court. Fellow senior John Petris will get valuable time down low upon returning from injury later in the year. Sophomore Justin Guy will also figure to get minutes at the five position, as he can step into a massive role in just his first season on varsity.
In addition to their five likely starters, Scotch Plains-Fanwood will carry 19 players on its opening night roster and possess a wealth of depth. Seniors Nick Jackson, Brogan Quigley, and Shon Williams; juniors Jon Ramos, Anthony Porter and Danny Wright; and sophomore Jay Williams will all be in the mix for playing time in the backcourt. In the front court, Eric Berkins, Brendan Beriont, and Miles Owens add valuable size and strong post play.
Just one year removed from winning only three games, the Raiders stunned New Jersey basketball by posting a 22-6 record with a state quarterfinal appearance during the 2016-17 season. With this improvement comes exposure, hype, and premier regular season out-of-conference games.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s schedule features various marquee matchups. The Raiders will play in showcases at Kean University twice in January -- against Woodbridge in the Eric LeGrande Classic on the 14th and powerhouse Hunterdon Central on the 20th. On Jan. 25, the Raiders will host crosstown foe and perennial power Union Catholic, and they visit archival Westfield on Feb. 12. Union County Conference (UCC) Valley Division matchups with defending champion Rahway on Jan. 16 and Feb. 6 will also be can’t-miss games.
The Raiders will also compete Cranford, Gov. Livingston, Summit, Roselle, and Hillside in the UCC Valley Division for the second consecutive season.