Long Time Raiders Head Coach Picked Up Milestone Victory Over EB in Holiday Tourney
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ—Entering the 2019-20 season with just four victories shy of 400, it was just a matter of time before Ed Breheney would accomplish his milestone. And with an improved Raiders squad led by Jahbri Fitzpatrick, Corey Smith, and Donovan Crawford, it wouldn’t take long at all.
With North Brunswick off to its best start in several years, Breheney was able to notch his 400th career win in a game versus East Brunswick, and former assistant coach, Mark Motusesky, over the holidays on the final day of the 2019 Brunswick Classic in New Brunswick on December 28th.
Led by Smith, who scored a game high.17 points including 8 from the foul line, and with some help from Fitzpatrick, who chipped in with 10 points including a couple threes in the first half, North Brunswick was able to fend off an East Brunswick squad that has still managed to play quite competitively despite losing several key players from last year’s team.
Jaquil Boyd added 11 points including four from the foul line while Crawford, a transfer from Highland Park, who has already made a significant impact on the team in his short time in North Brunswick, also scored in double figures with 10 points including two huge buckets down the stretch in the fourth quarter that helped the Raiders pull away for the 50-40 win.
Breheney, who took over the North Brunswick boys basketball program when previous head coach, Pete Clark decided to coach at his alma mater of St. Peter’s in New Brunswick back in the early 1990s. Breheney has never left as he has become the longest tenured active coach in the GMC by entering his 30th season at the helm in North Brunswick.
Along the way to his 400th win, there were the solid North Brunswick team’s he coached in the mid to late 1990s with the likes of 1,000 point scorer, Frank DeLuca, who went to play at Solebury Prep, and eventually got into high school coaching by being an assistant to former Piscataway and New Brunswick head coach, Tony DiGiovanni at Union Township for several years towards the end of the 2000s.
In addition to DeLuca, there was also the nucleus to the 1997 GMCT Boys Championship team, which defeated St. Joseph’s led by a sophomore named Jay Williams at Rutgers. The nucleus consisted of Raheem Byrom, the point guard, who is now an assistant on Breheney’s staff at NBTHS, John Cipot, the brother of current Raiders football coach, Mike Cipot, and nephew of legendary Highland Park head coach, Frank Cipot, Tim Howard, who went on to have a pretty good career as goalie for several United States World Cup soccer teams, Corey Stringer, the son of Rutgers women’s basketball coach, Vivian Stringer, Steve Bridgemohan, who went on to play on a Monmouth University team that competed in the NCAA tournament, and Eric Turner, a sharpshooting guard.
Turner is probably the one that many outside of North Brunswick may not remember as well as the others, but he played a pivotal role in setting the tone for that magical 1996-97 season with a noteworthy performance against St. Peter’s on opening night. The Cardinals, one of the contenders for the GMCT crown from 1993 to 1999, and consisting of the trio of Mars Mellish, Tony Lee, and Rodney White, who later played at UNC Charlotte and was 9th overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, was a strong favorite to win the 1997 GMCT in the pre-season.
In the season opener at North Brunswick, Turner lit it up to the tune of 25 points and five three pointers to spark the Raiders to a decisive victory over the Cardinals. St. Peter’s would avenge that opening night loss with a win over the Raiders at the Red Tile Palace in New Brunswick later that season, but North Brunswick won the rubber match in the 1997 GMCT Semifinals played at Middlesex County College before going on to defeat St. Joseph’s for the title at the RAC.
North Brunswick and St. Peter’s were not the only solid teams in the GMC White that year. South Plainfield, led by 1,100 point scorer, Mike Thompson, the nephew of Tiger hoops great, Joe Thompson, also had a solid team that endured some growing pains during a 1995-96 season that finished 4-14. With a team that also included seniors Nick Prybella, Mike Powell, Jeff Puterbaugh, Juan Arias, Julian Forde, Kevin Campana, and juniors Keith Palmer and Mike Francis, South Plainfield shook off a tough start that included some single digit losses to go 17-9 overall including an upset win over North Brunswick that season.
Colonia and Bishop Ahr (now St. Thomas Aquinas) also had solid teams that year, and yes, the Trojans were in the White Division back then. South Brunswick was rebuilding after losing to Piscataway in the 1996 GMCT Semis, and with a new head coach in Marc Babich, but the Vikes were still quite competitive, and yes, SBHS was also in the GMC White at that time. South Plainfield played St. Peter’s twice, and lost both times including a 77-72 defeat at Cotoia Gymnasium in Tiger Country despite Thompson scoring a career high 35 points.
It was really not much of a surprise that a White Division team won the GMCT that year since the division itself was quite strong from top to bottom in 1996-97. North Brunswick won the GMC White and returned to the GMCT Final Four in 1998, but fell short as St. Joe’s won the first of back to back titles with the team of Williams, Brian Wilson, Kevin Uszenski, and Paul Bocage. The Raiders were seeded 3rd in the 1999 GMCT, but was upset in the Round of 16 by 14th seeded Perth Amboy. The Raiders would return to dominance in the early to middle part of this past decade.
With the likes of Dion Rogers, Iverson Fleming, and Chance Gadsden leading the way, North Brunswick returned to the GMCT Championship in 2012, but lost to a St. Joseph’s team that consisted of the likes of Quenton DeCosey, Danny Brix, and a freshman named Karl Anthony Towns. Those Falcons went on to win the Non-Public A State Title, and become the third GMC team ever to play in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.
The 2011-12 team was the zenith of a four year run by the Raiders that included a GMCT Elite Eight and Central Jersey Group 4 Championship Game berth in 2010, and GMC White titles in 2011, 2012, and 2013. North Brunswick also reached the CJ Graup 4 semis in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Some memorable games from that four year period included the Quarterfinal come from behind win over New Brunswick, and semifinal victory over East Brunswick in 2012, a wild come from behind double overtime win against Old Bridge in the 2013 Central Jersey Group 4 opening round, and division clinching wins over Cardinal McCarrick in 2011 and 2012.
Breheney has also coached his share of 1,000 point scorers along the way including DeLuca, Cipot, Rogers, Fleming, Shaheid Williams, Derek Scott, and Tait Pirkle. Breheney has his Raiders off to a 5-1 start this season including a 3-0 mark in the GMC White. The start has catapulted North Brunswick into the GMC Hoops Top Ten at No. 9 this week after only going 6-16 overall and 4-8 in divisional play last season. The only loss suffered by NBTHS this season came at the hands of 6th ranked South Brunswick by only eight points, 55-48 in the first round of the 2019 Brunswick Classic in New Brunswick on December 27th.
Congratulations Coach Breheney on becoming the fifth coach in the history of the Greater Middlesex Conference to reach 400 career wins.