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Mustafa Lawrence (1) and the Newark Tech Terriers will have to almost literally soar in February if they want to overcome another sub-.500 first two months and make yet another late-season run to cop fourth straight Group 2 title. (Photos by Bob Thomas)
Coach Joe Jordan is proud of fact Terriers have won three straight Group 2 titles
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“Mustata is a great kid and an honor roll student who wears he game on his sleeve,” said Jordan. “He is an emotional player who is fully vested in every game.”
Lawrence, who averages 23.7 points per game, is surrounded by 5-10 junior point guard Walter Byrd, who just recently returned to the active lineup after sitting out the season’s first 13 games to concentrate on his academics. Adonis Ridley (5.7 ppg), a 6-0 junior, and Tarae Merritt (6. 2 ppg) are other key backcourt performers, while the frontcourt is led by 6-4 junior Javon Brown (7.3 ppg, 5.2 rebounds per game) and 6-5 junior Luquan Davis (6.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
Brown is the talented starting quarterback on the Irvington football team during the fall since Newark Tech does not offer the gridiron game in its athletic programs.
“We beginning to show that extra energy you need to be successful against the type of schedule we face both in the Super Essex Conference (American Division) and in our independent games as well,” said Jordan. “You have to match the energy level that teams like Seton Hall (Prep) and East Side bring every day, and we’re starting to have a better grasp as a group on what it’s going to take to turn this season around and have that great stretch run once again.”
Playing against a formidable schedule is simply part and parcel of the mosaic for Newark Tech’s basketball program, which has already faced such state powers as undefeated St. Augustine in addition to solid teams such as Paterson Kennedy and Allentown. Add in home-and-home matchups with the likes of SHP and East Side in the SEC-American and wins can sometimes be difficult to come by.
And, although the current Terriers may have a tougher mountain to climb without the experience it had on the floor to accompany Lawrence last winter, there are still enough talented players to come together and form a solid team unit down the stretch of this season.
“I never look at rankings nor do I care about won-loss records at this point of the season,” said Jordan, whose team was 11 th in N2G2 power point figures released on Feb. 4. “We’ve been something like 5-12 or 5-10 at this stage of the year for the last few seasons and we have still gone out and won the Group 2 state championship (defeating Medford in 2013 and Camden the last two years), and my goal with this team remains the same, to make it a ‘4-Peat’ while winning the Group 2 title.”
Power Points Standings In North 2 Group 2 (Feb. 4): Hackettstown (13-4) 377; Hanover Park (12-5) 365; West Side (12-6) 359; Newark Central (11-5) 343; Rutherford (11-6) 339; Dover (10-6) 317; Whippany Park (11-5) 291; North 13th Street Tech (10-4) 270; Lodi (9-6) 248; Ridgefield Park (6-10) 239; Newark Tech (4-10) 194; Harrison (6-9) 178; McNair (8-11) 175; Parsippany (5-12) 168; Lyndhurst (5-11) 154; Morris Tech (4-10) 153; Madison (2-12) 139; Fort Lee (1-18) 129; Science Park (1-15) 125; Leonia (2-13-1) 115; Parsippany Hills (0-17) 93; Caldwell (1-13) 92.
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Joe Jordan fully realizes he must wrap a great deal of his team's hopes around his star senior guard Mustafa Lawrence who averages 23.7 ppg. for the Newark Tech Terriers.
Newark Tech has made a habit out of capturing Group 2 state titles, winning their third in a row last March with a victory over Camden in the final at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
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