– Feeding off the emotions from a pregame Senior Night ceremony, the Carteret High School boys basketball team came out in lock-down mode behind its five senior starters in its Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament round of 16 game against North Brunswick.
Led by a game-high 27 points from Jaquan Robertson along with 17 from Brandon Gilder, the seventh-seeded Ramblers led the entire game as they cruised to a 64-47 victory over the seventh-seeded Raiders, including holding them to just 12 first half points, on Thursday night.
Carteret will face second-seeded Colonia in the quarterfinals on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at New Brunswick High School.
“That was probably one of the better defensive halves we’ve played all season,” Carteret coach Herman “Mugsy” White said. “I thought our effort was there. I thought our communication was there.”
Carteret hosts North Brunswick boys basketball, Thursday, February 19, 2015, in Carteret, NJ.
Robertson himself outscored North Brunswick (9-10) in each of the first two quarters, netting eight in the first and seven in the second as he had 15 points at the break with Carteret (16-5) leading 26-12.
“It was an emotional night because it was senior night,” said Robertson, a 6-foot-5 guard who also pulled down 10 rebounds and is being recruited by Delaware State and NJIT. “It was my last home game ever. Four years. Real emotional.”
Despite 14 turnovers in the first half Carteret maintained control and tempo as their zone, mixed in with some man-to-man at times, forced a North Brunswick team that struggled to get many good looks at the basket.
The Ramblers put together an 11-0 run between the end of the first and early part of the second quarter that gave them a 20-9 lead — North Brunswick would never get within single digits after that as Carteret led by as many as 20 in the second half.
“That’s what our coach told us to do. We’re always looking to run as soon as we get the outlet,” said Gilder, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half and also contributed 10 rebounds and six assists. “We make one dribble and we just try to go. That’s our DNA. A fast running game. Defense is our DNA, that’s how we learn. We don’t know anything else but that.”
Amir Alford added 10 points and Vincent Montgomery had eight for Carteret while North Brunswick was led by 14 points from L.J. Williams and 11 from Joe Castellanos.
Carteret this season has had its moments of falling just short against the good teams that they’ve played — of the seven other teams playing in the quarterfinals on Sunday, they’re a combined 1-4 against them with all four losses coming by six points as they’ll look to revers that trend against a Colonia team that hasn’t lost to a GMC opponent all season.
“The bottom line is we have to make game-winning plays,” White said. “There’s like two or three possessions out there that we don’t take advantage of our opportunities. If we can make some game-winning plays, get some key stops, make some key buckets then I think we should be alright.”
The Ramblers will be looking to their five senior starters, as their time is now.
“This is where they should step up,” White said. “This is the reason why we’ve played them for four years so hopefully we just let them carry us.”
Staff writer Mike Becker: email@example.com