SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ — The South Brunswick boys basketball team was one of the last ones still standing at the end of an aborted 2020 season.
The Vikings' thrill ride of a season, which included a trip to the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship game, ended with Yathin Vemula's buzzer-beating basket to beat Marlboro, 72-71, in the Central Jersey, Group 4 championship game.
At the time, South Brunswick had no idea that would be its final game. The Vikings were preparing for a state Group 4 semifinal game two days later that was never played--that was the day that the NJSIAA pulled the plug on the 2020 post-season, a day after the worldwide pandemic was declared.
There won't be any state tournament this season, as the fallout from the COVID crisis continues, but there will be a shortened season, and three big contributors to that championship team remain this winter.
Senior guard Tyrell Murchison averaged 12.6 points and sank 42 3-pointers. He'll be counted on for even more offense in head coach Joe Hoehman's uptempo attack this season. Vemula averaged 7.8 points, hit 26 3-pointers and was an integral part of the team's fastbreak offense as its playmaker as a sophomore. Senior guard Andrew Tesser is a dangerous 3-point shooter who'll fortify South Brunswick's standout backcourt with even more minutes this season.
Jason Asonye (sr. F), Rafael Estevez (Sr. G), Christian Mangrum (Sr. G), Damien Downes (Jr. G), Shyhiem Davis (Jr. PG), Saumit Kale (Jr. G) and Harmehar Chhabra (Soph. G/F) all are battling for playing time after serving as reserved and/or practice players on last year's landmark team.
"We expect to continue our competitive ways as we embark on the new season," Hoehman said. "We return three of our top seven from a year ago and have a host of reserves that are ready to step up and fulfill new roles in the 2021 campaign."
Also figuring to fight for playing time are Nicholas Geary (Sr. F), Olusegun Osinowo (Sr. G), Matthew Nurse (Jr. G), Brian Rawls (Jr. G) and Kalani Antoine (Soph, G).
"We will rely on defense and a fast pace of play to allow us to compete in the tough GMC Red Division," Hoehman said.
South Brunswick is scheduled to open its season at home Tuesday against J.P. Stevens, followed by a Saturday morning game at Edison High School on Jan. 30.