Joshua Daniels is an old school two guard. The senior consistently, relentlessly drives to the basket.
Michael Kides and Andrew Turco are more new school guards. Both players can shoot and get to the basket.
All three players complement each other well, and they are leading Monroe Township High School to a successful boys’ basketball season, its first in years.
After beating John P. Stevens High School, 45-39, on Jan. 17, the Falcons stand at 9-4.
They are on their way to their first winning season since the spring of 2015. Monroe is also four victories of shy of topping its total, 12, from the last two seasons combined.
“We put in a lot of work this offseason and played well. We even won the New Brunswick Summer League,” said Monroe coach Jeff Warner. “It’s all coming together.”
Last winter, Daniels transferred to Monroe from Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington. His talent was evident from his first practice, and his teammates were happy to have him.
“He’s a leader on and off the floor. He’s one of the most unselfish guys I’ve coached,” Warner said. “It’s always, ‘Yes coach.’ He’s just easy to like, and his teammates love him.”
This winter, Daniels is Monroe’s best player. He guards the other team’s top scorer and leads the Falcons in scoring himself, averaging 19.6 points per game.
Not many players can defend the top scorer and be the top scorer. Daniels can because he has an endless reserve of energy.
“He’s very energetic,” Warner said. “His stamina is great.”
On Jan. 8, Daniels led Monroe to an electrifying victory, 53-49, over a strong Piscataway High School team. The senior dropped 24 points and held Piscataway’s best player, Antonio Chandler, to 13 points.
The home crowd was going wild. Warner estimated that Monroe had not beaten Piscataway in 15 years. He also called it the Falcons’ “biggest victory in many, many years.”
Kides drilled three three pointers and scored 13 points in that victory. The fourth year starter has been playing that role for his entire career. Growing up, Kides was always working on his shot, and it was elite by the time he got to high school.
But this past offseason, Kides hit the weight room, bulked up and became a capable penetrator. He is scoring 14.3 points per contest, and he has made almost as many two point field goals, 30, as three pointers, 36.
“He’s a gym rat. Whether I’m holding practice or not, he’s the first guy in, last to leave,” Warner said. “Mike wasn’t born the most athletic, the fastest or the strongest, but he’s put work in and it’s showing.”
Turco, the only junior in the trio, started playing on varsity last year, as a sophomore. The experience molded him into a well rounded scorer.
This winter, he is averaging 10.8 points per game, and his scoring splits are pretty even. Turco has nailed 28 threes, 25 free throws and 16 two pointers.
The junior helped the Falcons build confidence early in the season. On Dec. 18, he buried five threes and scored 17 points in a victory, 49-47, over South Brunswick High School. Then, on Dec. 22, he dropped four threes and 20 points in another victory, 83-64, over Hopewell Valley Central High School.
All three guards can take over the game on any given night. Daniels and Kides are a strong yin and yang, and Turco is a great third option.
They should make the Falcons formidable in the postseason, too.
“If we lock in defensively, we’ll be in the thick of things, whether it’s battling for the GMC (Tournament) crown or possibly an (NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament) run,” Warner said.