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Bears Hope to Make a 'State'-ment Tonight

The Boys basketball team opens state tournament play 7 p.m. tonight at East Brunswick High School

Coach Bo Henning and his boys’ basketball team are hoping to stay home for the next week.

As the first seed in the Central Jersey Group 4 NJSIAA Championship tournament, the East Brunswick Bears will have home court advantage throughout the tournament, provided they win every game beginning with tonight’s match up against 16th seed Monroe.

Despite a disappointing, double overtime loss to St. Joseph’s in the County Championship Friday, Coach Henning likes the team’s chances this week.

“Obviously we’re disappointed in the outcome the other day, but we’re certainly not disappointed in the output and the play,” he said. “We just came up a little bit short. We had a couple chances that we didn’t take advantage of.”

Even with the loss, the team is upbeat and ready to go,  said Coach Henning, who said the squad looked good during a Sunday practice.

“I love the mindset of the kids,” he said. “They’ve been very resilient all year, and they’re resilient again, and we’re looking forward to the state tournament.”

When the Bears lost to St. Joseph’s last week, it was the third time the two teams met this season. Fortunately  familiarity won't be the case in the states, where Coach Henning says he hopes to see some teams that don't know about the Bears' style of play.

“When you get to the states you don’t really see many teams that you’ve seen throughout the year, so rather than make adjustments for each team, we’re seeing them for the first time. We just have to refine what we’ve done, make sure the kids’ legs are fresh for the game and make sure they’re mentally sharp, which the kids were on Sunday.”

The Bears open the tournament 7 p.m. tonight (Monday, Feb. 25) vs. Monroe at the East Brunswick High School. If they win, the squad's next game will be at EBHS, 7 p.m., Wednesday. The following game will be Friday, at 7 p.m. and the finals are scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m.

Are you going to the game? Submit your photos to Patch! Send them to john.saccenti@patch.com, or jennifer.bradshaw@patch.com.

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