Flash back to three seasons ago when the East Brunswick High School girls’ basketball team finished with a 3-17 record and a sixth consecutive losing season.
Following that dismal campaign, Keith Lane, a longtime coach of boys teams in the district, was chosen to revive the once formidable program, and the result his first season was remarkable. Calling on tried and true coaching methods, Lane guided East Brunswick to a 16-7 record and, most important, restored respectability to a once proud team. Among the many changes, the highly organized coach implemented a series of team-building exercises designed to imprint a winning attitude in the players’ minds that contributed mightily to the turnaround. Following another outstanding record last year (21-6), the Bears are off to a 3-0 start this season and hope to contend for the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division title.
The most recent victory was a 32-30 decision against West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North — the team that knocked the Bears out of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament two seasons ago. East Brunswick was scheduled to meet West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South Dec. 30.
“Much of what we try to do is built around four elements: team chemistry, defense, playing hard and rebounding,” Lane said. “If we stick to those basics in that order, the rest will take care of itself.”
Lane points out that offense is not included in the core four as they are described, but scoring has certainly not been a problem since his philosophy has been implemented with his teams averaging over 50 points a game.
The Bears are led by a pair of capable senior captains, forwards Sydney Greenspan and Allie Warren. In addition to being complete players, each possesses outstanding leadership skills and has taken the point in helping nurture younger players.
The rest of the deep rotation includes sophomores Nicole Johnson, Shanelle Colmon and Sabria Glasgow, all of whom possess good speed and ball-handling skills. Other contributors are seniors Kim Anderson, Abbie Auerbach and Ariana Perez; juniors Dhariti Patel, Bella Petrone, Angini Ragumar and Dormi Valentina; and freshmen Anna Curreri and Alyssa Bondi.
“One of the things we do to build team chemistry is nominating players following practice who demonstrate the most hustle and vote on the top two,” Lane said. “They each receive a bright yellow t-shirt, which they get to wear until the next election. It’s kind of badge of honor.
“Our athletic director, Chris Yannazzo, also gets involved by sitting down with players on an individual basis. He’ll pose different scenarios and asks each how they would handle a potentially disruptive situation. Everything we do is related somehow or another to making those core elements real.”