Old Bridge High School finished 21-5 in boys’ basketball this year. For the fourth consecutive season, the Knights posted the best record in program history.
That is a credit to the team’s core four of seniors in Julius Belton, Jared Meyer, Mike Oliva and Robert Benites. They were all multi year contributors. And they all built Old Bridge into a Greater Middlesex Conference contender.
“It’s definitely a huge accomplishment,” Meyer said.
“I’m proud of my guys,” said Old Bridge coach Jim Macomber. “Everybody knew their roles and played to the best of their abilities.”
Belton and Meyer were the creators and scorers. Belton scored 16.2 points per game and made the All-GMC First Team this winter. Meyer made the All-GMC Red Division squad.
“Julius was probably the best player in our conference,” Macomber said.
Oliva orbited the creators and sank three pointers. He led the GMC in threes with 81 last winter. He drilled 51 more treys this season.
Benites was the big man. The 6-9 behemoth controlled the boards and clogged the lane on defense during his junior and senior campaigns. He really came into his own this winter.
“He just made things difficult for the other team,” Macomber said.
Behind these core seniors, the Knights earned the No. 1 seed in the GMC Tournament and the No. 2 seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament. The players talked all season about having postseason ambitions, too.
But Old Bridge lost in the quarterfinals of both tournaments to lower seeds. It fell to ninth-seeded New Brunswick High School, 50-49, in the GMC quarters and to seventh-seeded Monroe Township High School, 52-50, in the state sectional quarters.
“It’s unfortunate that it ended the way it did,” Macomber said. “But the old saying is only one team will win it.”
“This group still stepped up,” Macomber added.
These Knights did not catch lightning in a bottle. They just gradually improved each year. Their records in their first three seasons were 18-9, 19-9 and 19-8.
Belton, Meyer, Oliva and Benites built something at Old Bridge.
“It was a good four years,” Oliva said.
“This whole season in particular was so fun,” he added. “I enjoyed going to practice every day.”
Now, it will be on their teammates to carry on the winning tradition.
Rotation players Sean Williams, Ryan Delacuesta and Jaden Caban will be back next year. All three guys played big roles this year.
Williams started the season as a defensive stopper but ended it as a volume scorer. He even dropped in 22 points on Feb. 15, in a 69-42 GMC Tournament victory over North Brunswick Township High School.
Delacuesta nailed 45 threes this year. He buried seven, and scored 25 points, in a 65-55 victory over Woodbridge High School on Jan. 7.
Caban, a 6-4 athlete, did a little bit of everything for the Knights. Macomber thinks he can become a two way standout next season.
“Next year he’ll definitely be more comfortable with his role,” Macomber said. “We expect big things from him.”
The coach has high expectations for Williams and Delacuesta, too. Opponents need to game plan for all three guys. That’s why Macomber thinks they can form the core of a new Old Bridge contender.
The Knights also have a “big, talented sophomore group” coming up from junior varsity, Macomber said.
“Between those three and the sophomores, we definitely can be one of the better teams in the county next year,” he added.