With it being year three of Art Tooles’ head coaching regime, the Middlesex boys basketball team is looking to take that next step upward this season.
Coming off a loss on Monday at Wall, the Blue Jays got back on the winning track with a 73-20 win over Manville on Thursday night in the first round of the Mike Shello Holiday Tournament at the Faber School in Dunellen.
“Coming back from the game on Monday, I thought we played very well there — it was probably one of our best games of my career here and the kids hung tough down there, but coming here and get this win, it’s a good bounce back game for us going forward,” Tooles said.
Jarrett Bogus led Middlesex (2-1) on Thursday with 17 points and six assists in the lopsided win.
“We really wanted it against Wall, but this is a good bounce back to get everyone going, feeling good around the holidays,” Bogus said.
Tooles said he likes what he sees and that he feels this team has the potential to move up after a 10-15 season a year ago.
“I think we’re right on the cusp of taking that step,” Tooles said. “The game Monday was a good test for us. I think the next game after this is gonna be another test for us to see where we are — if we’re making that next step or if we’re going to wade in the water.”
Bogus is the go-to guy for the Blue Jays, as the 6-foot-5 senior is capable of scoring from both the perimeter and inside.
“Jarrett is a very smooth player,” Tooles said. “Sometimes you kind of forget about him out there and before you know it he has 20 points. He’s stepping up his game — he’s going away from more of just shooting jump shots and taking the ball to the hole, getting on the glass, which we’ve been trying to get him to do. So his game is rounding out into an all-around game.”
Marcus Evans-Little, another 6-5 forward gives the Blue Jays some added length, as both he and Emilio Gonzalez added 10 points in the win.
“We’ve got the size, we just gotta use it and get through everything,” Bogus said.
With a Blue Division that appears to be for the taking, Middlesex is looking to be one of those teams in the running for at the top of the standings come February.
“I think everybody wants to be there at the end,” Tooles said. “I think we’re all looking to compete for the championship and I think that we can be right there with everybody else. It just comes down to playing one game at a time and taking your opponent as serious as you take yourself.”