Nine in a row.
The South Plainfield High School varsity boys basketball continued its historic season with a 65-58 victory over Middlesex at home at Senior Night.
Destiny Nwankwo, Josh Liberato, Josh Bradley, Jayden Gimes, Troy O’Connor, Moshood Adebule, Ace Price, and Mitchell Dudak as well as student managers and cheerleaders walked out with their parents and were honored prior to tip-off.
And for fourth-year head coach John Greco, this senior class is special to him.
“I was an assistant for four years before I became the head coach, and we never had a young class that had this potential,” Greco said. “We had some guys that got better as they went along. Four years ago, I remember a lot of kids showed up in the summer that were on the eighth grade team. And I even remember seeing Moshood, and I was thinking 'who is that'? The middle school coach said he was their 10th guy. He was raw, but you could see his potential. And I said all right, that's gonna be the group. We had to fight through a couple of years. Last year we started out 2-5 and won 14 games. This season with COVID, I never saw the guys get down about it. It's just a great class, and every single one of them brings something different.”
South Plainfield (11-1) found itself down by seven in the third quarter, but it was the presence of Bradley who helped right the ship.
“Josh Bradley's our captain. He wasn't in the game that much, but I can't emphasize enough how he leads our team in practice and during games,” Greco said. “Matter of fact, today, when we got down by seven, I put him in and our intensity level changed. He knows he's not the best basketball player out there, but he has his strengths. The rest of the guys feed off his emotion.”
Adebule struggled with foul trouble early, but he ended up netting a team-high 26 points, a new career best. Adebule used his size inside to his advantage.
“In the beginning, it hurt when Moshood got two fouls in the first two minutes. Luckily we have enough depth where we can replace him, and he sat out for at least a full quarter,” Greco said. “The biggest thing was Moshood offensively. He's strong, and he can score on anybody inside. He had a mismatch, and he let the game come to him. To be in foul trouble and score 26, that's big.”
Once South Plainfield got down by seven after the break, it started doing what’s allowed it to be successful as year long -- it’s defense. The Tigers found it hard to contain the fast-paced Blue Jays offense at first, but they settled down.
“Middlesex runs very fast, and they can put up points,” Greco said. “We hang our hat on defense, and the first half, it wasn't there. They were running all over us, they were skip passing, they were doing things to us off the dribble, and our help wasn't there. They actually went on a 14 to run and took a seven-point lead. I think they had 48 points in 20 minutes, and then the last 12 minutes they scored 10. Once we got smacked in the face, we woke up defensively and that changed the game right there.”
Up next, South Plainfield rounds out the regular season at Old Bridge at 4:00 p.m. on Monday. It then will play a pair of GMC pod games against opponents to be named later. South Plainfield and Old Bridge have only played three times since 2011 with the Knights winning in 2018 and 2017 and the Tigers coming out on top in 2011 in the play-in round of the GMCT.
South Plainfield won 14 games a year ago and reached double-digit victories for the first time in a decade. If all things go right, it has a chance to surpass that number in half the amount of games.
For the full schedule of events, click here.
To watch the live streams at home, click here.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.